Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 2004
Strive for a faith-filled culture
Fr. Jack Gallagher urges Formation for Pastoral Service grads to make an impact on public life
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Now is the time to take steps to change the public's perception of faith, declares Father Jack Gallagher.
Speaking to a standing room only gathering in the Newman Theological College chapel June 13, Gallagher, president of Newman Theological College, told the 21 graduates of the Formation for Pastoral Service program and their guests that more people must discern their religious responsibilities.
"In our society, we live in two different cultures. There is the domestic culture, involving your homes, neighbourhoods and personal relationships, and there is a public, or popular culture which is largely a product of the mass media."
The two-year Formation for Pastoral Service program allows people from parishes across the Edmonton Archdiocese to study the faith and its foundations. It also provides an experience of service that enhances the ability of the graduates to serve in their parishes.
"This affects the preaching of the Gospel a great deal," Gallagher explained, "because there is an interaction between the two cultures. By the time something has bubbled up into the public culture, it has already been sifted through many different sieves."
At this point in time, public culture does not give much support to the faith, he said. To help change that, the graduates should continue what they have been doing the last two years.
"You have taken in the Gospel and reflected upon it in a communal way, not only to enrich your domestic culture, but also to be able to go out and have an impact upon the public who are constantly forming us whether we like it or not," he said.
Tom Adamyk, from St. Michael within the cluster of parishes out of Our Lady of Angels Parish in Fort Saskatchewan, says what he has gained from the program might not change the world, but he might be able to convince others to commit themselves to the Church.
"What this gives me is more knowledge of the Church. It has given me more theological studies and more understanding of Church history and where it is going in the future," Adamyk said.
"I know how important this program is to enhance the laity's perspective of the Church and how important it is for us to have some education to better serve within our communities."
Adamyk said he enrolled in the program because of a strong desire for more instruction in the Catholic faith, and he sees that same need in rural communities. "I am doing this because I feel we have almost been let down by the Church for 40 years," he said.
A light in the tunnel
"For two generations, we have had little after the nuns disappeared. This is a small light at the end of a long tunnel to get the laity involved in catechism programs. With the marriage, baptismal and Confirmation preparations, having an educated laity will be more of an asset to your faith communities."
Michelle Poitras has been involved with St. Francis of Assisi Parish for several years. "Prior to starting the program, I was on the liturgy committee and I was a Eucharistic minister," Poitras said. "Since I enrolled, I have now been helping with the sacramental preparation sessions offered in our parish. The single most significant benefit I received from this program is an absolute desire to continue learning about my faith and continuing my religious education."
St. Theresa Parish council member Stephen Dufresne agrees much can be done to let all sectors of society know that God is life.
"I have always believed we have to do parish work differently," Dufresne said. "We are not getting the results. We need to empower members of our faith communities to step up to the mark and be challenged to share their stewardship with other members of their community.
"We must be more in touch with what our time, talents and treasures really are. I hope to do this by having taken this program and I hope to encourage others to take this program.
"We have to step up to the responsibility of what is going on in our parishes."
Archbishop emeritus Joseph MacNeil prayed that the graduates have a blessed life of service.
"May God bless you and make you always aware of his saving wisdom. May he expand your faith and the fruits of his love so you will persevere in good work," MacNeil said. "And may he direct your steps to himself and show you how to walk in charity and peace."