Discipleship Formation leads believers to a deeper knowledge and love of Jesus Christ and the Church, and a firm commitment to follow him.
“To follow Jesus is to be in a constant process of growth, like the seed that fell on rich soil. We seek to be more like Jesus, to treat others as he did, to pray as he prayed, to love as he loved, and to honor God in every area of our lives, including marriage, family life, finances, work and leisure activities. Growing as his disciple demands a daily surrender to the one who loved us and gave his life for us: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Unleash the Gospel, Marker 9.2
Discipleship Formation is comprised of the following areas:
- Adult Faith Formation Ministry
- Catechist Formation & Certification
- Children’s Faith Formation
- Sacramental Preparation
- Small Group Ministry
- Youth Ministry
Adult Faith Formation
“The Church's catechetical mission aims to help the faithful of all ages to grow in both human and Christian maturity, enriching the whole of life with the leaven of the Gospel. Consequently, appropriate goals and content will embrace all the faith dimensions of an adult life—for example, understanding and communicating the faith, skills needed for personal growth, the experience of family life, relationships, public service, and concern for the common good.” - Adult Faith Formation | USCCB
The USCCB goes on to identify three major goals to guide and direct efforts in adult faith formation:
- Invite and Enable Ongoing Conversion to Jesus in Holiness of Life.
- Promote and Support Active Membership in the Christian Community.
- Call and Prepare Adults to Act as Disciples in Mission to the World.
These goals are illustrative of the Encounter/Grow/Witness paradigm of Unleash the Gospel in which “every person in the Archdiocese is called to encounter Jesus anew, to grow daily as his disciple, and to give witness to the power of his mercy.”
Adult Faith Formation calls for a culture shift from programming to “communities that form faithful adults.” In order to accomplish this, here are some things to consider:
- Assess the adult community: age, culture, and demographics. In planning, target the specific needs of specific demographics.
- Design formation in light of “mission:” Help adults to encounter Jesus, to grow as His disciples, and to witness to His love and mercy.
- Form leaders as part of your leadership team, as leaders of different aspects of formation, and as small group facilitators.
- Build relationships and celebrate graces received through personal witness, sharing of life moments, and accompaniment on the lifelong journey of discipleship.
For ministry with young adults, it is important to consider their specific needs: the desire for authentic community, guidance in the early years of marriage and raising children, an understanding of apologetics and how to defend their faith, and dealing with human struggles such as anxiety, depression, finances, etc. To meet these needs, consider the following:
- Stage of life: for example, young married couples may be in the same age range but will be different with or without kids.
- The importance of listening – learning from young adults what they need and how they would like to get involved.
- Involvement of young adults in parish leadership roles.
- Communication is important – make sure the website is up-to-date and use multiple methods of communication.
- Programming and events need to be attractive – think hospitality, beauty, comfort, etc. For example, one parish is hosting a young women’s night with the goal of providing information about NFP, but it is designed as a nice women’s night out with ambiance, food, drinks, and fellowship.
- Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States
- SPARK Knowledgebase
Catechist Formation and Certification
On Fire for the Faith
On Fire for the Faith is the new catechist formation process which includes an orientation course and 20 modules organized into 4 mini-courses based on the pillars of the Catechism. This course will satisfy the theological component of the catechist certification process. Other requirements include an Encounter Retreat, internship, and discussion with your DRE or principal.
On Fire for the Faith is replacing the 27-topic system, although the 27-topic system will be honored until June 30, 2022. There are a few options approved for catechist certification in the AOD:
- The 27 Topic System will be available until June 30, 2022. For those who are well along in this process, there is a list of equivalent workshops offered through Franciscan University Catechetical Institute online.
- Franciscan University Catechetical Institute:
- If a catechist chooses to use this delivery system in its entirety, 22 workshops, discussion with the facilitator, and the internship are required for certification.
- If someone has completed initial catechist certification by completing the 8 required workshops and internship, 14 additional workshops are identified to complete the theological component. These along with discussion with the facilitator and the internship are required for certification.
- Echoes of Faith Emmaus is an approved delivery system. This system is offered online interspersed with completion of reflection questions and discussion with a local facilitator.
- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Catechist Training is another approved system. This is geared specifically to those who will teach in the CGS atria.
Registration information for Catechist Formation:
- On Fire for the Faith
- Franciscan University Catechetical Institute
- Echoes of Faith - Contact [email protected] for a code.
- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level I
- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level II
Reporting Forms for Catechist Certification:
- AOD 27-Topic System (available until June 30,2022)
- On Fire for the Faith
- Franciscan University Catechetical Institute
- Echoes of Faith PLUS and Emmaus
Children's Faith Formation
The Nature of Catechesis
Catechesis is an ecclesial act, arising from the missionary mandate of the Lord (Mt 28:19-20) and aimed, as its very name indicates, at making the proclamation of his passion, death and resurrection continually resound in the heart of every person, so that his life may be transformed. NDC 55
At the center of every catechetical process is the personal encounter with Jesus Christ. The ideal is for this encounter to be brought to life in the person. The aim of catechesis is to go beyond the first encounter and to bring a person into communion, into intimacy – with Jesus Christ. Thus, forming a person into a missionary disciple. There are several objectives of catechesis, and still, its greatest purpose is evangelization.
Five Tasks of Catechesis: New Directory for Catechesis
- Leading to the Knowledge of the Faith - To foster the knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom.
- Initiating into the Celebration of the Mystery - Catechesis promotes the knowledge, comprehension, and the experience of our liturgical celebrations. Literally, we are fostering and nurturing the meaning of the sacraments.
- Forming for Life in Christ - Catechesis imparts into each person, a moral formation in Jesus Christ
- Teaching Prayer - Catechesis uses this task to educate a person for prayer, and in prayer. It is meant to teach a person to pray with Jesus and to pray like Jesus.
- Introduction to Community Life - Catechesis prepares a person to live in community and to actively participate in the life of the Church. Catechesis teaches to profess one’s faith, to celebrate one’s faith, to express one’s faith, and live their faith above all in community.
Overview of the Directory for Catechesis:
- USCCB Directory for Catechesis Video Series
- Loyola Press Overview of the New Directory for Catechesis
AOD Religion Curriculum
The Preschool – Grade 8 Religion Curriculum embraces the vision and mission of the evangelization initiative of the Archdiocese of Detroit to unleash the Gospel. This initiative strives to build a band of joyful missionary disciples who will bring the joy of the Gospel to every corner of Southeast Michigan. By embracing this vision, the curriculum will raise up students who are well-formed and have zeal for sharing their faith in the family, parish, workplace, and greater community. Evangelization and discipleship are integrated throughout the curriculum. It emphasizes God’s invitation to a loving relationship with Him through encounter with His Son Jesus Christ and the student’s free response to His invitation as appropriate for each grade level. Knowing Jesus in a personal way opens the mind and heart of the student to want to grow in knowledge about God and the Catholic Church and adherence to magisterial teaching – to live as a joyful missionary disciple of Jesus Christ.
Sacraments are defining moments in the path of lifelong discipleship. Sacramental preparation should therefore be designed to help all of those involved in the process to understand that this sacred time is one that helps children and families to live out their baptismal vocation by acting as leaven in their communities and in the world.
Sacramental preparation can indeed be an opportunity for transformation of the hearts and minds of all. Some things to consider:
- Model sacramental preparation on the catechumenate by building relationships, developing an understanding of the baptismal vocation, and what it means to live as a joyful missionary disciple. Just as in RCIA, meet people where they are, connect them with the parish community, and help them to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the sacrament and of the Faith as they move through the process.
- Base sacramental preparation on formation in discipleship. The process should model the Unleash the Gospel paradigm of Encounter, Grow, Witness – helping candidates and their families to encounter Jesus, to grow as His disciples, and to witness to His love and mercy at home and in the community.
- Develop the sacramental preparation process with consideration of the importance of accompanying parents and connecting parents with one another and with the parish community.
- Sacraments are celebrated in community, not as isolated events. It takes a village – Involve the parish community in prayer, celebration of the sacraments, and in welcoming the candidates and their families as an integral part of the life of the parish.
- First Reconciliation Resources for Parents and Families
- First Eucharist Resources for Parents and Families
- AOD Confirmation Process Webinar 2020
- Confirmation Virtual Retreats
Small Group Ministry
Jesus modeled small group ministry for us. Small groups play a key role in the Grow stage of the Detroit Model of Evangelization. Just like Jesus and His apostles, small groups cultivate meaningful relationships, engagement with God’s Word and growth in spiritual maturity. Together, they deepen their lives of discipleship, serve alongside each other in ministry, and grow in their zeal to share the love of Christ.
A small group is a gathering of six to ten people who meet regularly to connect with each other and grow in faith together. There is usually a leader who facilitates conversation and ensures that the group runs smoothly. Small groups can be composed of a like demographic such as all men, all women, couples, families, and youth, or they can be a mix of men and women in different age groups and stages of life. Members of a small group are often in similar phases in their faith journey or are in particular life circumstances. Small groups can be an integral component of each person’s faith formation, young or old, as they continue along a path of discipleship throughout their lives. Small groups provide real, lived community within the larger faith community.
- SPARK Knowledgebase
- Four Resources to Get Started in a Small Group | Unleash the Gospel
- Launching Small Groups in a Parish
- Nuts and Bolts of Small Group Coaching
- Making a Case for Small Groups
Youth Ministry throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit is guided by Unleash the Gospel and accompanies and engages adolescents as they encounter Jesus Christ, grow closer to Him, and share their witness through word and action. “The youth and young adults of our local Church have a particular call, which the Church wholeheartedly supports, to bring the light of the Gospel into southeast Michigan. They have a unique ability to reach the people of their own generation, and they can help us think in new ways. We must make every effort to encourage, challenge, mentor, and raise up the young to take up their rightful roles in the mission of the Church, entrusting responsibility to them as appropriate.” - Unleash the Gospel
It takes a whole church to minister to adolescents! This comprehensive approach is not a single program or recipe for ministry. The comprehensive approach uses all our resources as a faith community-- people, ministries, programs-- in a common effort to promote the goals of the Church's ministry with adolescents:
Goal 1: To empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today.
Goal 2: To draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community.
Goal 3: To foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person.
(Adapted from Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry from the USCCB)
- Pope Francis's 2019 Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit
- 10 Things in Christus Vivit Addressed to All of Us Who Work with Young People
- Living Unleash the Gospel: A Study Guide for Teens
- Volunteer Code of Conduct
- Youth Ministry Forms for Leaders
Get Connected as a Leader
As a Leader in Discipleship Formation, you are encouraged to stay connected to the Office of Discipleship Formation and to one another. There is a weekly Discipleship Formation email to help you unleash the Gospel. If you would like to sign up to receive this email, or have any questions or good resources to share, contact us at [email protected].
Also, the Discipleship Formation Mighty Network is a platform that fosters authentic community and collaboration among Catholic Lay Ecclesial Ministers according to Archbishop Vigneron's Unleash the Gospel letter as a result from Synod 16. Join now and share any resources and ideas with other leaders. You can add events offered at your parish or share resources with other ministry leaders.
The Office of Discipleship Formation
Sr. Kathleen Matz CDP - Associate Director of Discipleship Formation
Tom Clark - Coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation
Katy Frederick - Coordinator of Small Group Ministry and Youth Ministry
Laura Piccone-Hanchon - Coordinator of Youth Ministry
Freeda Marable - Administrative Assistant for the Office of Discipleship Formation