This track will help new and veteran ministers consider the role of a parish initiation team. It will also help them reflect on the principles of ministry, recruiting, and maintenance of a team, on the role of the parish community, and on the role formation plays in developing a team.
W1. The Practice of Ministry
This foundational session will present a basic rationale for ministry. In addition to addressing the vocational call to service found in Scripture and Church documents, the presenters will examine the universal call to holiness, discipleship, and discernment. It will also review the four aspects of ministry formation: spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral, which when well integrated lead to the fruitful practice of initiation ministry.
W2. Formation of the Parish Community, Leaders and Staff
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults takes the role of the parish seriously: “The community must always be fully prepared in the pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ. …Hence, the entire community must help the candidates and catechumens throughout the process of initiation…” (RCIA, 9). The initiation team ministers on behalf of the parish community. During this session, presenters will expand on the role of the initiation team in relationship to the parish community and its leadership.
W3. Developing the Initiation Team
This session will look at the role of the coordinator of Christian initiation and the role of the initiation team. It will explore both how to develop and form a new team and how to work to further develop and form an existing team. It will also look at the importance of collaboration and the development of a relational model for ministry with priests, deacons, musicians, and other leaders of ministry in helping them establish a parish vision for initiation. In addition, it will look at the team’s role as witnesses of their own faith, the importance of knowledge of the rite, and their own understanding and appreciation for prayer, liturgy, the liturgical year, and the sacraments of initiation.
W4. Training the Initiation Team
The initiation team, including catechists, “have an important office for the progress of the catechumens and for the growth of the community” (RCIA, 16). Furthermore, the RCIA states that the instruction they provide “is filled with the spirit of the Gospel.” This session will address best practices for training effective initiation ministers. It will look at the formation of sponsors, hospitality ministers, catechists for extended catechesis, leaders of prayer, and facilitators for dismissal catechesis. It will address the importance of helping the team develop particular skills—for example, radical hospitality, accompaniment, and holy listening.
W5. Holding Regular Team Meetings
Holding regular team meetings is an essential part of good implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. This session will provide practical ideas for best practices for creating team meeting agendas and activities to enhance the human, spiritual, and intellectual development of the team.
W6. Recruitment of New Initiation Ministers
The ideal vision for implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a year-round catechumenate. This session will focus on ongoing recruitment of initiation ministers, which will not only help avoid ministry burnout, but will further the vision that a catechumenate needs everybody. In addition, it will focus on understanding the parish’s needs in regard to demographics and cultural diversity. It will reflect on the ideal of stewardship in helping potential ministers discover their gifts and strengths for initiation ministry.