Formation Day focuses on period of purification

by Matthew Smith

North Texas Catholic

February 6, 2020

Steven Greene, MA, gives a keynote presentation during Diocesan Formation Day at St. Andrew parish February 1, 2020. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)
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FORT WORTH — Each year, ministers, directors of religious education, and RCIA instructors across the diocese come together for a day highlighting the importance of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and an opportunity for continued learning and renewal.

“The purpose overall is to strengthen a person’s understanding of RCIA and what it really is,” diocesan Director of Evangelization and Catechesis Marlon De La Torre said of the Feb. 1 Diocesan Formation Day held at St. Andrew Church in Fort Worth. “It’s not a class; it’s a journey, and we want people to understand that.

“This is the Church’s rhythm of bringing someone closer to Christ. It’s a process.”

The diocese began scheduling annual formation days more than a decade ago. This year’s edition focused on the period of purification — the Lenten period of reflection and examination of motivation for those preparing to enter the Church.

It’s a period during which RCIA instructors become less teacher to their candidates and catechumens and more brothers and sisters in their journey, said Steven Greene, the Director of Kino Catechetical Institute for the Diocese of Phoenix.

Dozens of RCIA and other volunteers from at least as many parishes attended the Feb. 1 event, which included several speakers.

Sister Mary Catherine Do, of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province, reads a prayer response during Diocesan Formation Day at St. Andrew Parish. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)Sister Mary Catherine Do, of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province, reads a prayer response during Diocesan Formation Day at St. Andrew Parish. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)
Sister Mary Catherine Do, of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province, reads a prayer response during Diocesan Formation Day at St. Andrew Parish. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)

“When we asked how many were new here this year, over 80 percent were,” De La Torre said. “We get that every year because the ones we train carry it forward and pass it on and bring in new people. To see it working every year gives me goosebumps and I’m just overjoyed.

“And each year is different because it’s always an ongoing journey and developing. In this diocese in particular, all our mechanisms, everything around them, is based on the RCIA.”

Greene delivered the keynote focusing on how to help candidates prepare, through the period of purification, to receive the sacraments.

Greene spoke of his formerly agnostic, now Catholic wife who, because of an unexpected family death, went through the period of purification twice.

“Unwelcomed and unlooked for as that was, it became a purification of motives for her,” Greene said. “‘Who am I coming to the Catholic Church for? Is it Steve or is it Jesus, and why am I becoming Catholic?’”

The period of purification, Greene said, exists to benefit RCIA instructors as well as those they instruct.

“The period of purification is meant to be a period of deep solidarity between those of us who are fully initiated members of the mystical body of Christ and those candidates and elect who are still journeying toward full communion within the Church,” Greene said. “It’s a bit like purgatory, a time of sacrifice and suffering intended to perfect us and so fit us for union with Jesus Christ, and to deal honestly and uncompromisingly with our own sin.”

Mary Ann Wiesinger, MA, gives a keynote presentation during Diocesan Formation Day at St. Andrew Parish February 1. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)


Greene discussed the Three Scrutinies of the Church and the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to further illustrate his points.

Timothy Brennan, director of religious education at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller, discussed the history of penance through the ages, adding that every confession is a conversion, and stressed the importance of RCIA instructors and groups supporting and holding each other accountable.

James Bitting, a theology professor at Bishop Carroll High School in Kansas, urged attendees to enhance the basic RCIA teachings.

“Give witness to the candidates of what Jesus Christ has done in your life,” Bitting said. “They need to know that. They need to hear it explicitly.”

Maria Carrera, catechist and parishioner of Lewisville’s St. Philip the Apostle Parish, praised the speakers and the information imparted throughout the day, information she says helps strengthen individual parishes.

“Also, it reminded me that this is an important job,” Carrera said. “It’s a vocation, not just filling a spot. It’s also a matter of you keep growing in your faith as well as helping others grow in theirs.”

FORT WORTH — Each year, ministers, directors of religious education, and RCIA instructors across the diocese come together for a day highlighting the importance of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and an opportunity for continued learning and renewal.

Published (until 12/5/2039)