Faith classes quench spiritual thirst

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Young people at Fairfield Catholic parish
Phoebe Lawrence at one of the adult faith formation sessions at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Fairfield this month. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

It was back to class for one group of spiritual seekers which has inspired a new adult faith formation initiative in Western Sydney.

Our Lady of the Rosary Fairfield assistant parish priest Fr Josh Miechels has led more than a dozen adults from university students to older parishioners through several weeks of studying the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

His knowledge-hungry ‘students’ loved their weekly revision tests and stayed well past finishing time to ask him questions about life and faith.

The priest of the Emmanuel Community said he began thinking of starting such a class when instructing a First Holy Communion group at which none of the children and most parents didn’t know how many sacraments there were in the Church.

“I realised there was a problem in the parish with regards to basic catechesis of the adults, particularly as parents are the primary educations for their children and if they are Catholic are called to educate them in the faith,” he said.

See related story: Education sparks adult faith

“Around the same time a parishioner asked me to start something on a weekly basis, and so I wanted to assist parents and parishioners generally.”

Sessions were held every Thursday evening during the school terms three and four, to give parents with school-aged children the opportunity to attend.

Campion College student Phoebe Lawrence said she joined the group because she had “undergone a period of doubt and mistrust of the Church and really wanted to be renewed in my love for her and for God”.

“I was also aware that that there was so much about our faith that I didn’t know,” she said.

“Fr Josh provided satisfying and deeply truthful nature of his answers to our questions and it was so evident that these sessions bore much fruit for everyone there.”

Fr Josh Miechels
Fairfield assistant parish priest Father Josh Miechels says an adult appreciation of the Catholic faith adds richness to life for the baptised. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

Parishioner at St Patrick’s Parish in Sutherland Joshua Fsadni said the course “has given me a deeper understanding of the Church’s teachings and how they can help me love more and better serve God”.

The hospital scientist said he thought it was important for every Catholic to seek to learn more about the content of their faith.

Fairfield parishioner and bank manager Manuel said he realised he did not know many things about his faith upon beginning the sessions.

“I had been wanting to grow in the faith and this only triggered me to want to learn more,” he said.

Next year Fr Josh will run an eight-week course based on The Bible Timeline, which is part of a Bible study series published by Ascension Press.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis blesses a synod observer before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican on 16 October. He has often called for ongoing faith formation for young adults. PHOTO: CNS/Vatican Media

It will begin on 14 February at Our Lady of the Rosary, followed by complementary courses in terms two, three, and four.

“My aim is that over one year parishioners will get a complete formation in doctrine, the Word of God and liturgy,” Fr Josh said.

“If people are formed that way, they have got everything they need to respond to the call of holiness in the Church.

“So many Catholics suffer from not knowing that what we are called live as Catholics is so simple, rich and so helpful for them in life and for their families.

“If they knew more about their Catholic faith they would find that it changes their whole outlook on life.”