Announcing “Foundations of Faith” – Adult Faith Formation in Jefferson City

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Have you ever found yourself during Mass wondering what something means as you listen to the Scriptures? Perhaps something the priest mentioned in a homily was unclear? Maybe you know you’re Catholic but you’re not sure why the Church teaches what she does on a number of pressing and important issues? Perhaps you want to be better able to explain to your friends what you and the Church believe? Or maybe you’re just curious.

Thankfully there is a solution arriving here in Jefferson City, Mo. Beginning on October 15, 2018, I will be offering an adult education, faith formation, catechesis, class, seminar, whatever you want to call it, and you are most welcome to attend. The classes will begin at 6:30 PM and will be held in Kertz Hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The course will be geared towards adults, that is anyone 18 & older.

I am titling the course, “The Church in the Modern World.” That is both a reference to Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, as well as something broad enough for us to cover a wide variety of topics across different sessions.

I will be offering a six week session this fall. In the future, I plan to offer more 6-10 week sessions. Each of the sessions will be based on a particular theme as requested by those attending the class. Click here to see some potential future topics.

For this initial session I consulted our parish education commission and came up with the theme, “Foundations of Faith.” Our class topics will be:

October 15: Faith & Reason

October 22: Faith & Science

October 29: Revelation

November 12: Origins of Sacred Scripture

November 19: Scripture & Tradition

November 26: Jesus

December 7: Mary (N.B. – This is on a Friday as a part of the parish Advent Soup Supper)

It will not be a linear course in the sense it will not be necessary to attend every week, you can come and go as you please. I will also post readings and resources on this web site, though it will not be necessary to review them beforehand. Even if you can’t make it a given week, you’ll still have access to all of the resources found at this hub.

I look forward to seeing you on October 15th, let me know if you have any questions. Please help me spread the word. Below is a printable flyer you can print.

If you already know you want more information, click here, to send me an e-mail, and I’ll add you to the e-mail list.

On Beginning the School Year

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on

The other day I was having coffee with a former Totus Tuus missionary from when I was director of the Totus Tuus program for the diocese. He’s currently studying theology in college. Both of us share a passion for teaching theology. So naturally, when I mentioned that school was starting this week here at I.C., our conversation turned towards how to teach religion effectively. I won’t bore you with the philosophical details and turn this into a professional development seminar, but I would like to share two of basic principles we discussed that I believe will help as we begin the new school year.

Two Principles for Learning & Teaching the Faith

The first is that there must be a balance between teaching that the faith both a content to be learned, but also a relationship to be lived. Religion class shouldn’t be like the other subjects per se, in that it’s just something you learn and move on. It’s meant to affect every aspect of our lives. At the same time there must be a balance with good content so that it doesn’t just become a relationship without substance or meaning. In other words there must be balance between both the head and the heart, not one or the other.

The second principle I’d like to share is that our teaching of the faith should always be geared towards deepening and growing. In other words we shouldn’t be content with memorization of various lists, such as the commandments, beatitudes, sacraments etc. etc. Yes we should learn those things, but because they help us to grow in our understanding of the faith.

Our three readings today speak to these two principles as well. For in the Gospel we hear Jesus say, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink,” and, “whoever eats this bread will live forever.” This speaks to the need for us to have balance. That in order to achieve the growth in our faith, it is not just words or ideas, but also God’s grace received in the sacraments. St. Paul urges us to, “Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” To forsake foolishness is to allow our faith to impact our entire lives, not just our heads. Similarly, the book of Proverbs tells us,  “Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.” This reminds us of the need to progress in our understanding of the faith, even if it is a mystery.

How do we accomplish these tasks? It takes everyone working together. Just because you send you’re kids to Immaculate Conception School, does not mean you get a pass in raising your kids in the faith. Sending you’re kids to Catholic school doesn’t rid you of that responsibility. It’s not merely the responsibility of the teachers, or the priests, or the parents. It’s everyone working together, school, parents, and the students.

“You’re smart, but you don’t know anything yet”

So to the students here whether you’re in kindergarten, or a senior at Helias, I’d like to share with you the best advice I received as a student. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear it until my first year in graduate school. The professor said, “You’re smart, but you don’t know anything yet.” What does that mean? Obviously we knew something, as do all of you. But it’s meant to be an attitude. That every day you show up to class, every time you pick up a pencil to write, or do a homework sheet, or pick up a book to read, tell yourself, “you’re smart, but you don’t know anything yet.” You’re smart, God has given you the ability to do the work. Don’t sell yourself short, think you’re not good enough or you can’t do it. But you don’t know anything yet, that means never be satisfied. Never think you know it all, the second you think you already know it all, you stop learning. Always be open to entering deeper into the mystery and learning more.

Home : School :: Dinner Table : Classroom

As for the parents, at the baptism of your children you took on the responsibility of being the primary educators of your children in the faith. There’s no asterisk at the bottom of the page in the book that says, “If you send them to Catholic school, you’re done.” The home is the first and primary school. The Book of Proverbs uses an image at the beginning of the reading today, setting the table. My suggestion or challenge for you as parents would to be to literally do just that. Set the table. If the home is the school, the dinner table is the classroom. Make an effort this year to sit down as a family at the dinner table. With no cell phones. Do this as often as possible. If you are already starting to make excuses for the different nights of the week. Don’t. Eat earlier or later. Make it a priority.

Then when you do sit down at the table, don’t just ask your kids, “How did you day go?” If you ask a teenager that question, you’ll get some sort of grunt, “meh,” “boh.” “fine.” Growing up, it feels like my parents rarely asked that question, instead it was always, “What did you learn today?” And you have better have had a good answer to that question. At the time I didn’t always appreciate the question, or the subsequent lecture explaining some bizarre piece of knowledge. However, now I see how it was helping me to advance in understanding, pushing me deeper every day. So when you sit down at the table, help your kids to grow by asking them, “What did you learn today?”

Learning as a Lifelong Pursuit

The other reason my father always asked that question was his belief that we always keep learning something new, every day, our whole lives. Growing in our faith does not end when we graduate high school or get confirmed. It’s a lifelong adventure. So for those of you here who don’t have children in school, for the “grown-ups,” we all have more room to figure out the balance of knowledge of our faith and living it out. We have room to grow and go deeper.

That’s why the parish is offering a program like Alpha, to help give space to ask questions so that one can grow deeper in their faith. Later, in October, I will be starting an adult education class where each week we’ll look at various topics which affect our Church and world.

Wisdom has prepared the table for us. Here we come to the Altar to be nourished by the food and drink of truth for eternal life. God’s grace affects not just our hearts but also our minds. With this new school year beginning it’s an opportunity for all of us to keep growing deeper in the knowledge of our faith.

Immaculate Conception Church
August 19, 2018 A.D. – 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B

*As always these homily texts are representative, as I deliver my homilies without text or notes, and naturally there are variations from Mass to Mass.

March 23, 2017 Presentation Slides – Faith & Science

Another night and another great conversation about our Catholic faith and how we as a Church need to understand our philosophical foundations and then apply them as we engage with the world.

The key to last night’s conversation between can be summed up by one of the attendees in the struggle between perceived and real differences. That is to say that we must work to break down and get past perceived differences while also at the same time finding a way to not deny the real differences and seek a way to work together for the benefit of theology, science and the entire world.

Here are the presentation slides from last night:

March 23, 2017 Presentation Slides

For the readings provided for this week’s class click here.

All resources for previous weeks and topics can be found here.

March 9, 2017 Presentation Slides – Faith & Reason

Last night my new Catholic adult education course, “The Church in the Modern World” gathered for a second time. This time the numbers grew significantly. There were over 60 people in attendance. Once again a good mixture of college students, working professionals and retirees.

With all the ballots in both on paper and on-line, next week we will start a new topic. Stay tuned until Monday for the new resources and topic announcement.

For now, I wanted to provide my PowerPoint slides from last night. There are essentially a highlighted selection from the magisterial texts previously provided here.

March 9, 2017 Presentation Slides

March 2, 2017 Presentation Slides – Introduction and Faith & Reason

Last night I was so grateful to see 40 people show up to the first session of my new Catholic adult education series. The best part for me was to see college students, adult professionals and retirees all sitting side by side, learning and sharing together.

Since it was the first night, I dedicated the first half to explaining my background in fundamental theology and what exactly I was hoping for everyone to get out of the class.

From there we started to talk about the first topic, Faith & Reason. We had a good discussion as a group, I was particularly impressed with some of the examples brought in from the different professional and scientific fields. The variety of ages and professional/education background should prove to be enriching for all.

Next week we will do a full treatment of sorts on the topic of Faith & Reason. This week we only talked about the issues without making our way to the magisterial texts.

If you couldn’t make it this week, you’re more than welcome in future weeks. Also be sure to vote on-line for future topics.

Lastly, here are the slides from last night’s presentation, given the introductory nature of the class, the slides are equally lacking in substance, but if anyone is interested, I wanted to make them available.

March 2, 2017 Presentation Slides

Faith & Reason: Adult Ed Resources – 2 & 9 March 2017

Given that this is the first week of the class, the first part of the session will be dedicated towards setting the stage for the entire course. That is for me to gather information about what it is all of you want to learn and get out of the class, as well as time for me to share my expectations or vision.

However, I don’t want to leave anyone empty handed that first night. So I will spend some time with our first topic, Faith & Reason. That way everyone who comes the first night will at least get a little “taste” of what’s to come in future weeks.

We will continue with the same topic the second week in order to give it a more robust and proper treatment.

Every week on Monday I hope to write a short post such as this introducing the topic and providing a .pdf with some readings to look at in advance if you are so inclined. Though certainly, it will not be necessary at all. If you can’t make it a given week, or you want to browse through other topics they all we available at this hub.

Faith & Reason: Reading Packet

Each of these packets will contain excerpts from various Church documents. All of them should be available in their entirety at the Vatican’s web site:

This week’s excerpts come from the following documents:

  • Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Vatican I, Dei Filius (1870)
  • Vatican II, Dei Verbum (1965)
  • St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
  • Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (2013)

In future weeks I may also post other videos or articles on this page as well.

Lastly a few quick housekeeping notes as they are questions I’ve been asked a lot:

  1. The class is FREE
  2. You DO NOT need to register

See you on Thursday!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.