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Meeting the demand for formation

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Professor Renée Köhler-Ryan, National Head of the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Photo: CNS photo/Lola Gomez
Professor Renée Köhler-Ryan, National Head of the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Photo: CNS photo/Lola Gomez

By Helen Wagner

The demand and request for opportunities for the lay faithful to have access to ongoing formation is ever-present.

Formation helps the faithful to grow in faith, and be equipped to share the person and message of Jesus with others, becoming theologically literate and spiritually well-formed disciples.

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Responding to this need, the Didasko Adult Faith Formation short courses were established, by the Parish Renewal Team, as a way to provide sound Catholic formation, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Didasko, from the Greek word “to teach” is a series of short online courses delivered by world class lecturers via Zoom, covering foundational courses in philosophy and theology.

Professor Renée Köhler-Ryan, National Head of the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia, recognises the place of faith formation in nurturing our relationship with Jesus, and for effectively witnessing to him in the world.

“Philosophy and theology open up a world of wonder, enabling believers to go deeper into their faith” she said.

“Above all, these disciplines form us into Christians inspired to bring the Gospel into our daily lives.”

The series commenced in October with a short course on “Goodness, Beauty, Truth: An Introduction to Themes and Thinkers in Philosophy,” presented by Dr Catherine Wesselinoff.

While the study of philosophy was completely new to many of the participants, it was well received and provided a great foundation for studying the subsequent courses in theology.

In addition to the 40 individuals who participated over three consecutive Thursday evenings, two parish groups also participated with great enthusiasm.

For Fr Pawel, parish priest at St Kevin’s in Eastwood, Didasko was a valuable formation opportunity for his parishioners that was too good to refuse.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive spiritual and intellectual nourishment on a level they would, otherwise, not have access to. These are high-profile minds coming from Notre Dame!” Fr Pawel said.

The series continued in November with a short course on “The Scriptures: A Conversation with God Every Day,” presented by Dr Peter Holmes.

With a break over summer, the formation will recommence next year in March, with a new course each month for three months, covering topics on theology, Christology and moral theology.

Didasko is for those who may not have any prior study in philosophy or theology, or those who would benefit from a refresher.

If you are interested in participating in Didasko, register online for courses in the new year at https://gomakedisciples.org.au/didasko/.

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