Editor’s note: Between now and the Archdiocesan Synod, June 7-8, the Catholic Herald will publish summaries, prepared by the Synod Preparatory Commission, of each of the eight background papers that will be discussed at the synod. The complete text of each paper, along with an introduction to the papers, “Discipleship: Our fundamental Catholic Identity, written by Bishop Donald J. Hying, is available at tinyurl.com/synodbackground. 

Cultural realities

  • For many Catholics, “Catholic identity” has become a tradition or hoop rather than an interior disposition of discipleship. 
  • Our formation efforts are weakened by families who rarely pray or attend Mass. 
  • We lack trained catechetical leaders and the financial resources to pay them justly.
  • The chief and central task of adult formation is not a top priority in many parishes. 

Reflection question
In light of these cultural realities, how do we identify talented catechetical leaders, train them in professional skills, and generate the necessary funds to pay them justly?

Theological foundations

  • Jesus and the early church invited followers and formed them into intentional disciples within the context of community.
  • Forming intentional disciples is a spiritual process that unfolds across the life-cycle.
  • Formation affirms Gospel values in the culture and purifies values that are contrary.
  • Formed disciples generously share their time, talent and treasure in church, community, and society. They become fruitful agents of transformation in society.

Reflection question 
How can we foster formation for discipleship that is rooted in the church, spans the life-cycle, speaks to the culture and bears the fruits of evangelization and holiness?

Other issues and challenges

  • Formation for discipleship is an apprenticeship in the Catholic Christian way of life.
  • Formation for discipleship is the ongoing responsibility of the whole parish.
  • We need a renewed vision of parishes as centers of formation for discipleship.
  • A renewed vision forms intentional disciples in all six dimensions of catechesis (knowledge of the faith, liturgical life, moral formation, prayer, belonging to community, missionary spirit).

Reflection question
How do we help parishes fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus and become centers of formation for discipleship through apprenticeship and full catechesis?