Know Him more, Trust Him more: Diocese expands adult faith formation class availability
FORT WORTH — How do you make a good thing even better?
Offer more of it.
Last year, the Diocese of Fort Worth revised its adult faith formation curriculum and enrolled more than 500 in the program.
Based on that success and a growth in demand, this year the diocese will offer 24 courses, including online in English and Spanish, up from 16 last fall.
Increasing availability is a priority for Diocesan Director of Evangelization and Catechesis Jason Whitehead. “The intention is to ensure that everyone who wants to be properly catechized in the faith throughout the entire diocese has relatively easy access to it,” regardless of where you live, he said.
Know Him, trust Him
Robin Harris, director of faith formation at St. Michael Parish in Bedford, said the classes “convey the richness of the faith through the beautiful material of the liturgy, Scripture, and the Catechism … delivering the consistent message of God’s gracious love for us through Jesus and through the Church God has given us.”
Knowledge of God and love of God are intertwined. Whitehead said, “God created us first to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in heaven. That begins with knowing Him so that we can learn to trust Him, which is the essential element to divine faith. All of us could stand to trust God more. To trust God more, you need to know Him more.”
Too many Catholics cease learning about their faith when they are 15, Whitehead added, which leaves them hesitant to explain their faith to others or teach religious education.
The classes are targeted towards those who simply want to know more about their faith, as well as those who teach the faith to children, youth, or adults interested in joining the Church.
Harris, who teaches the course at St. Michael, said, “This affords people who are actively involved in parish ministry or those who want a richer understanding of the faith to experience [instruction] from the perspective of a participant / learner.”
She noted that last year’s classes sparked “great discussions that ignite the faith.”
In 2022, the Diocese of Fort Worth simplified its two programs of adult education — the St. Junipero Serra Institute and the St. Francis de Sales program —to focus on the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The difference between the St. Junipero Serra Institute classes and the St. Francis de Sales program boils down to frequency. Classes in the St. Junipero Serra Institute are held weekly, and the St. Francis de Sales program offers monthly classes.
Both programs allow participants to take them for a certification credit, which will require a final open-book exam, or to audit the classes without a test. Whitehead said the audit option proved quite popular.
First-year classes in both programs cover topics including revelation, sacred Scripture, the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, and the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. The weekly format of the St. Junipero Serra Institute allows those topics to be explored in more depth.
The courses, which begin in September, are being offered in English and Spanish at multiple times and locations, including at parishes in Wichita Falls, Weatherford, Keller, Arlington, Bedford, and Fort Worth. Online classes in both languages allow the flexibility of asynchronous learning.
Currently, two years of a three-year plan of study are available. The third year, to be offered in the future, will allow concentrations according to the ministry, such as youth, RCIA, or marriage and family life.
The cost for the St. Francis de Sales program is $50 annually. The St. Junipero Serra Institute divides its curriculum each year into four courses for level 1 and six courses for level 2. The cost is $25 for a six-week course. Whitehead emphasized, “If people have financial difficulty, please contact us, and we’ll work it out.”