Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - St. Michael Parish in Lincoln is one of several in the Diocese of Lincoln that are using a new adult faith formation series called “Symbolon” to instruct those who are interested in the Catholic faith, as well as other adults.
North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln and St. Cecilia Parish in Hastings are also launching the program, and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Seward started using the program in February.
Created by the Denver-based Augustine Institute, “Symbolon: the Catholic Faith Explained” is a 20-video series that efficiently introduces adults to the powerful truths of the Catholic Church.
Dr. Edward Sri, Symbolon program director, told Catholic News Agency recently, “The Symbolon video series proclaims the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith in a way that meets people where they are at, captivates their hearts and minds for Christ and His Church and forms them with a Catholic worldview that prepares them to engage the many cultural influences today that undermine Christian living.”
Bishop James D. Conley informed priests throughout the diocese of this new program last spring. The St. Michael team that administers RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) was immediately interested.
“Our parish, headed by our pastors, has been really prayerfully discerning how to embrace the New Evangelism and what that means for our parish… for the sake of forming intentional disciples for Christ,” explained Joy Martin, RCIA coordinator. “We see Symbolon as a way to facilitate that.”
Last spring, a group of couples from the parish did a field study for Symbolon. After two weeks of previewing the videos, evaluating the content and comparing it to the previously used RCIA materials. as well as the Catechism, the group was impressed.
“We really liked what we saw,” Mrs. Martin reported.
The parish’s RCIA team, including Father Kenneth Borowiak, pastor; Father Eric Clark, assistant pastor; Sister Mildred Bush, O.S.B.; Mrs. Martin and two other parishioners, Doug Curry and Jill Jensen, traveled to Kansas City a few weeks later for a weekend training session. They came back to Nebraska even more convinced that Symbolon was the ideal program to use for both RCIA and adult faith formation at their parish.
“What the team from Symbolon presented was the foundational elements that a parish wants to include in developing RCIA and adult faith formation in relationship to the New Evangelism,” said Mrs. Martin.
“Symbolon is really well structured,” she continued. “It incorporates theology, doctrine, faith formation, morality, prayer and interweaves them all, and yet at the same time it’s logical in its progression.”
Each video features various professors from the Augustine Institute, as well as highly respected Catholic speakers and authors such as Patrick Coffin, Teresa Tomeo, Jim Beckman, Leah Darrow, Curtis Martin, and Father Leo Patalinghug.
The first 10 Symbolon videos were released last March. Each of the videos focuses on helping viewers know the Catholic faith by teaching important concepts such as the Trinity, redemption in Christ, the Church, the Bible, Mary and the Saints, and creation.
The second half of the series was just recently made available. These videos cover topics about living out the Catholic faith, such as the sacraments, marriage and lasting love, a Catholic moral vision and Catholic social teaching.
One of the interesting features about the Symbolon program is that parishes can subscribe to the series digitally. This allows any given parishioner the opportunity to watch Symbolon videos online from their home computers, tablets or smart phones at their own convenience.
“It’s not a cheap program and yet, our team decided it’s worth the cost,” Mrs. Martin said. “It worked out to about $1.50 per parishioner… It’s money well spent.”
She and the rest of the RCIA team are ready to facilitate Symbolon for their RCIA program, which launches Sept. 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is also open to any Catholic adult who wishes to learn more about the faith.
Mrs. Martin is confident that Symbolon will have a positive impact on St. Michael Parish. Based on the number of parishioners who came to the informational meetings held in August, she anticipates between 40 and 50 people will be attending the Sunday evening sessions.
The RCIA team has also matched a sponsor to each non-Catholic who has signed up for the class, and they have lined up a team of “prayer warriors” to pray for each person attending as well as the facilitators. Mrs. Martin said they are also planning to provide free childcare during the sessions.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a theology degree already or if you are completely new to any faith background, everyone that experiences this program can anticipate being edified in some way,” she assured. “We are so excited.
“Contact us at the parish or just come on that night (Sept. 7),” she encouraged.
To register in advance for the St. Michael class, call the parish office at 402-488-1313. To sign up at North American Martyrs, call 402-476-8088 (child care is provided). St. Cecilia Parish is also incorporating the program for the first time this year. To enroll, call 402-463-1023.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Seward began a Symbolon study in February, and still uses the program for ongoing faith formation. For more information, call 402-643-3421.
For more information about Symbolon, visit www.symboloncatholic.org.