Diocese of Joliet

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Whole Parish (Intergenerational) Faith Formation

What is Whole Parish Faith Formation?
Whole Parish Faith Formation, or WPFF, is the name the Religious Education Office has given models that form people in faith with the whole community gathered at the same time. Examples include Generations of Faith and Whole Community Catechesis. 
It is important to note that instruction is just as much a part of this model as it is in the classroom model. In WPFF, think of instruction as an anchor for the rest of the learning process. The learning process in WPFF is very different than traditional models because it is built upon different values. The WPFF model embraces the following values:

1. Lifelong WPFF recognizes first and foremost that faith formation is a life-long process. It is not an age-group-specific program with a definitive enrollment and exit time. While most catechetical leaders agree wholeheartedly with the value of lifelong faith formation, many traditional models do not have a high success rate in retaining learners beyond eighth grade.

2. Intergenerational As a lifelong process, WPFF values all learners at every stage of the life cycle and the relationships that form between them. In a culture where multiple generations of family typically do not live in the same location, these intergenerational relationships are extremely important to the learning process and, thus, highly valued. This value also emphasizes the critical importance of forming adults in their faith. By including adults of all ages in the learning process, WPFF actively seeks to engage adults in continuing faith formation. The working assumption is that adults more fully formed in their faith will be better equipped to pass that faith on to the younger generations. Finally, this value recognizes the diverse set of circumstances facing people today. Using a term such as households to describe those who participate reinforces that all are welcome, from the traditional family, to the senior citizen, to the single young adult, etc.

3. Gathered This learning process relies on having the faith community gathered at the same time to experience the same formation, as opposed to separating the age groups across the year for independent learning. Learning with the community that worships together is an extremely high value in WPFF which could not happen in the same way if age groups always met for independent learning. In parishes where space will not allow the entire faith community to gather at one time, multiple gathering times should be offered, similar in concept to a parish having multiple worship times to accommodate their parishioners.

4. Core Curriculum Imagine having the ability to teach all of the learners in a parish the same concepts at the same time. This is the value of a Core Curriculum. When the intergenerational faith community of lifelong learners is gathered together as a learning community, they learn and grow in faith together. The topic for a given week or month is THE catechetical topic for the faith community and parish leadership can count on that as they develop programming in other areas. An example of this might be the priests incorporating this topic in their homilies in some way.

5. Participation WPFF seeks to help form the faithful in such a way that they will be better able to participate in the life of their faith community. Through growing in understanding about the topic, by forming relationships with other people, and sharing faith in new ways, the participants of the learning sessions will be better prepared to participate in the faith life of the parish. Not only will they understand what is going on in their faith communities more fully, they will be able to experience it with people with whom they have built faith relationships.

6. Whole Parish WPFF is the primary catechetical program for the entire parish. No ministries run programs that conflict with it and every ministry participates in it. Deviation from this value, however slight, undermines the success of WPFF. In fact, not adhering to this value is why so many parishes have experienced difficulty implementing intergenerational approaches. It truly requires a paradigm shift in the parish.

7. Value Added Doing a WPFF model does not preclude the possibility of other age-group specific ministries or programming. These simply “spin off” ofthe WPFF dynamic. The key is that ministries do not recreate what WPFF has already done, but enhance it. Think of these ministries as ways for parishioners to live out what they are learning in WPFF. Each of the values named above work together to create the WPFF model. If a parish embraced one or two of these values (which many do), it would not automatically translate into a WPFF model. Just like the classroom instructional methodology was created to serve a specific set of values, so was WPFF.

Understanding the purpose of each of these values and seeing how they inter-relate with one another is the first step of assessing whether or not a WPFF model might be valuable for your parish


Recording of Leisa Anslinger's Diocese of Joliet presentation:
"Here Comes Everybody: Forming an Engaged Community"

Families Living Faith Event resources (March and May, 2017)
Intergenerational Assessment Tool
FashioningFaith.org (Center for Ministry Development)
Intergenerational Faith Formation
LifelongFaith.com (Lifelong Faith Associates - John Roberto)
Lifelong Faith Formation Center
Vibrant Faith@Home
Leif Kehrwald's presentaton

Growing Up Catholic (Parent coaching, intergnerational resources for general catechesis and sacrament preparation)
Loyola Press
OSV Curriculum Division
Question of the Week (English/Spanish)
Sadlier Intergenerational model
Sadlier Family-centered model
Sadlier Gather in My Name event plans
Gospel for All Ages
(Pflaum-Good Ground Press)
Intergenerational Safe Environment Sessions: Learning About L.I.F.E.

Anslinger, Leisa, Here Comes Everybody!  Whole Community Catechesis in the Parish.  Mystic, CT:  Twenty-third Publications, 2004.  Provides a practical approach to whole community catechesis by someone who is implementing the framework in her parish.  Includes Catechumenate as model, discipleship, households of faith, assemblies, catechetical options, team formation and suggestions for assemblies.  Publication includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter and could be used to explore possibilities of the whole community catechesis model in a parish.

Haas, David, Increase Our Faith – Year A:  Parish Prayer Services for Whole Community Catechesis.  Mystic, CT:  Twenty-third Publications, 2004.  Offers a comprehensive resource for intergenerational assemblies, community gatherings, parish meetings, and retreat days.  These prayer services, written in the spirit of whole community catechesis, provide a service for each week of the liturgical year.  Includes prayer, readings, question of the week for faith sharing and personal reflection, and litanies.  Includes music and refrains by this well-known composer.

Huebsch, Bill, Handbook for Success in Whole Community Catechesis.  Mystic, CT:  Twenty-third Publications, 2004.  A practical follow-up to Whole Community Catechesis in Plain English, this publication includes principles of whole community catechesis, suggestions based on the Adult Faith Formation Pastoral “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us,” scope and sequence, bulletin announcements and reproducible handouts.

Huebsch, Bill, A Pastor’s Guide to Whole Community Catechesis.  Mystic, CT:  Twenty-third Publications, 2004.  Using Church documents and recent movements in the Church, Huebsch points out how this form of catechetical renewal can make a difference in any parish.

Huebsch, Bill, Whole Community Catechesis in Plain English.  Mystic, CT: Twenty-third Publications, 2002.  Provides a basic framework for the Whole Community Catechesis model, including how to link liturgy and catechesis, how to make the household the focus of catechesis and the concept of catechesis assemblies.

Rotunno, Jo McClure, Heritage of Faith-A Framework for Whole Community Catechesis.  Mystic, CT:  Twenty-third Publications, 2004.  Builds on the whole community catechesis work of Bill Huebsch and the intergenerational approach of John Roberto and provides next steps for whole community catechesis.  Includes questions for adults and for children based on the Sunday Readings for Years A, B, and C.