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Fostering faith formation with joy


A new document aimed at fostering the faith of all the people of God in the Archdiocese of Adelaide was launched at the Marion Hotel last month.

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Developed in response to the recommendations and decrees of the 2021 and 2022 Diocesan assemblies and the Fifth Australian Plenary Council, Drawn into the Joy of the Gospel presents a vision for formation in the Archdiocese.

At the launch, Vicar General Fr Dean Marin said it was important to make sure that everyone in the Archdiocese was made aware of the document and stressed that it was for all Catholics, “not just a select few”.

“We’re all part of this, we’re all in this, this is a vision for all of us, no matter what perspective we may come from,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that everyone in the Archdiocese knows this is for them, not just a select few. Let’s get that message across.”

Adelaide theologian Fr James McEvoy, the main architect of the document, said “as people of faith, people for whom the love of God is the foundation of our lives, we share in the evangelising mission of the Church”.

“We endeavour to allow the love of God to transform the world through our lives. So, faith in the love of God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit is both what brings us together and what moves us into the future.

“In that context, then, Drawn in the Joy of the Gospel aims to foster the faith of the People of God in the Archdiocese of Adelaide.”

Fr McEvoy said the primary purpose of Drawn into the Joy of the Gospel was to assist every parish and community to think about the formation of all of their members, in every dimension of their community life.

“To think about how every parish committee and group and, indeed, every parishioner can be ‘drawn further into the joy of the gospel’, of how the gospel can be the ‘soul’ of parish life,” he said.

To this end, Fr McEvoy said workbooks had been prepared to guide parishes and communities.

The latter half of the document reflects on the pastoral ministry of the Archdiocese and the formation of lay leaders – from teachers and principals to pastoral associates, consecrated religious, deacons and priests.

Beautifully illustrated by US artist Lisa Bierer and designed by the Pastoral Services Team, the document begins with a letter from Archbishop Patrick O’Regan in which he acknowledges that there are “significant challenges in passing on our faith”.

This made it all the more important to heed the call of Pope Francis to “become ever more vivid signs and instruments of God’s mercy, and to live the joy of the gospel,” he wrote.

Peter Bierer, assistant director, Pastoral Life and Mission, shared some examples of formation in his life at the launch event.

“I have had many experiences of elements of formation, some formal, most informal; some self-guided, some directed; but along the entire journey of formation in my life, I have found myself in relationships of accompaniment,” he said.

“I grew up in a household of formation. My mum, an artist, and my dad, a musician and school teacher, created environments for my siblings and I to experience the love and joy of God firsthand.

“My parents were both very open about their personal encounters with Christ and the centrality of faith in their lives. They were never forceful, but rather it was their joy-filled witness, even in the darkest times, that provided the invitation to seek after God on our own.”

Mr Bierer referred to other experiences such as catechesis, religious education, sacramental preparation, youth ministry, mission trips and involvement in music ministry.

“Through it all my hope is that I am an expression of the joy of the gospel.”

View the document here.


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