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Formation:

Feeding the Spirit within

By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register

Editor’s Note: Promoting the four pillars of Stewardship -- formation, prayer, service and hospitality -- prepares us for, and is part of, our Commitment Sunday, Nov. 23. In this article, as in the bishop’s column, we are focusing on the first pillar, “Formation.”
It’s called “Commitment Sunday,” but it could be called, “Bring a Smile to Jesus Sunday,” or “Christ and Co. Job Fair Sunday.”
One step which leads into, and is part of, Commitment Sunday, is “Formation,” allowing Christ to mold us like a piece of clay.   As we near Nov. 23, Catholics across the diocese will be introduced to a variety of ways they can get involved in their parish. They will also be shown activities and programs designed to strengthen their faith and/or their knowledge of the Church. The first way:
Formation
With a little creativity, formation programs can build the faith life of adults and youth while not putting them to sleep.
“Theology on Tap,” for instance, is a gathering of young adults who meet at a local pub where they listen to a guest speaker, such as Father Wesley Schawe. Jennifer Mai introduced the program to the diocese in 2008. “It seems like the younger generation is looking for a home, a place where they can feel comfortable,” Mai said in an earlier article.
“And this provides that for them.  And it also serves that group of people who may not feel comfortable coming into a Wednesday night Bible study or a Sunday prayer group.”
Or, adults and youth alike might take part in an ITV (Interactive Television) presentation. For example, on Oct. 15, Father Terrance Klein will present a program on “Faith and Literature, An Evening With Harry Potter.”
This program is free and opened to the public. Other programs presented through ITV are designed for catechist formation, so that our teachers have a convenient place to go for their continuing formation.
Presented in cooperation with Newman University, ITV allows participants to take part in the discussion from sites in Dodge City,  Great Bend, Garden City, Liberal, Pratt, Ness City, Scott City, Sharon, Syracuse, and Ulysses (in other words, travelling distance is no excuse!).  
And there is the Pastoral Ministry Formation program, which is open to any adult with a desire to learn more about their faith. It is designed to help people become stronger witnesses and, if they choose, pastoral ministers for the Diocese of Dodge City. They can earn a college degree (through Newman University) in pastoral ministry, or a diocesan diploma (by completing 30 college credit hours.
Pratt resident Dave Borho took another path toward earning a Master’s of Theological Studies (MTS) degree. He simply turned on his home computer.
In 2009, Wichita-based Newman University has teamed with the Diocese of Dodge City to present the MTS degree curriculum through a new, Internet-based program, allowing students to take classes from the comfort of their home.
When asked in 2009 why he decided to commit the time to the class, he told the Register, “I just felt a need, a calling to learn more about Church, God and ministry.
“One thing has always struck me about this and why our bishops are visionary in presenting this program: they are offering the opportunity to lay people to not only know their faith, but to be leaders in their parishes and dioceses by educating them.”
The Heartland Center for Spirituality offers a wealth of formation programs, from Spirit-Life classes, to the simple and fun, “Movies With a Message.” For more information, go to heartlandspirituality.org.
Formation allows youth and adults to, as Pope Francis said, “...encounter our brothers and sisters, even those most distant from us in every way, to share with them the love, peace, and joy of the Risen Lord.”
In a 2013 homily, Bishop John Brungardt asked, “How do we spend our time: fruitfully, wasted, or sinfully? I encourage you to use God’s gift of time fruitfully by participating in the formation activities here at the parish and the diocese. There are many great print materials, resources on the Internet, etc., to assist us to grow in our Catholic faith. Let us be diligent students of Jesus.”
For more information, visit dcdiocese.org/adult-formation.

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