It is not possible to live and grow in the faith without the support of a group, of a Christian community. It is here that you will learn together to build a better world.
- St. John Paul II
WELCOME TO ADULT EDUCATION
Over 55 years ago, the Second Vatican Council issued a clarion call to the laity to move beyond what had become a “pray, pay, and obey” attitude. We were told that it was not simply the clergy who have a mission. We all have a mission in the world as the People of God, sanctified at our baptism as prophets, priests, and kings. To put it bluntly, we were asked to grow up and become adult disciples-to learn about our faith as adults, to study the Scriptures, to get to know Jesus-in order to be sent out into a world still reeling from World War II, the horrors of the Holocaust, and the dropping of atomic bombs, not to mention the Korean and Vietnam wars and countless other conflicts. We were asked to participate in the transformation of the world.
Recognizing that people need to be equipped for this mission, the bishops made Adult Faith Formation the number one priority. And with that came a flurry of books, bible study programs, etc. Our first Board of Education was “all in” and saw to it that an adult education person was hired immediately. After all, with a patron saint like St. Thomas Aquinas, we could do no less! We continue to provide more opportunities for adult faith formation than most parishes in the country.
If you’ve never participated in adult faith formation, you may be thinking like Sally Brown (Charlie Brown’s little sister) who asks, “How can I go to school if I don’t know any of the answers?” But Lucy, standing behind her desk with the “Madam Fullcharge” sign, says, “If life seems to have more questions than answers, try to be the one who asks the questions.”
Most of the people I know live in what the Germans call zerrissenheit-a “torn-to-pieces-hood” state. To be human is to feel at times divided, fractured, pulled in a dozen directions…and to yearn for serenity, for some healing of our “torn-to-pieces-hood”. But those who take the time to gather with other adults to talk about life and faith say that it heals their “torn-to-pieces-hood” state at deep, deep levels. All you need to participate in adult faith formation is a willingness to put your two cents in, a sense that you have something to contribute, an ability to see that adults view the world in more complicated ways than children do, a skeptical attitude towards what you thought when you were eight years old, and a sense of humor, even where religion is the topic. And there’s free coffee!
As you browse through this brochure you’ll find among the many offerings a class on The Universal Christ which clarifies what we mean when we talk about Jesus as the Christ, a bible study on The Book of Genesis which explores our roots as Judeo-Christians, a class called Unafraid which faces head on the anxiety so many are dealing with in these uncertain times, and a class called Everybody, Always, which explores ways to love even the difficult people in our lives. You’ll also find programs to help you work through grief or a broken marriage, and classes to help you to learn to listen to God in silent prayer.
I pray that you will be drawn to a class, a Small Faith Community, the RCIA-something that will not only inform you but also transform you into the disciples that the world needs. Becoming a smarter Christian is not the goal. Becoming a disciple is. The world needs healing as never before.
Faith is not primarily a set of propositions to be learned once for a lifetime, but a relationship with the living God, which, like all relationships, must constantly be nurtured if it is to thrive. As adults we change, the circumstances of our lives change, and the questions we bring to the Gospel and our Catholic Tradition are different in every season of our lives. Many years ago, St. Thomas Aquinas Church made a commitment to making the ongoing formation of adults a priority. A wide variety of classes is offered on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and on Wednesday evenings concurrent with the children’s program. Class topics range from Bible studies to parenting classes, classes on spirituality, social justice, world religions, Catholic doctrine and Christian living. Brochures listing course offerings are mailed to all parish households in the fall and winter. There is no fee for adult classes, nor is advanced registration required.