By RENEE WEBB
The Diocese of Sioux City will offer a webinar later this month to explore ways Catholics can become formed in the faith on-demand through a new digital platform.
According to Fred Shellabarger, director of evangelization, catechesis and family life, the webinar to be held from 3 to 4 p.m. on June 21 will provide an introduction and overview of the website formed.org that is offered by the Augustine Institute as resource for parish evangelization and faith formation.
Formed, he noted, is a tremendous resource, especially when used to its fullest.
“We have found that many are not aware of what Formed is, or that such a resource is out there,” Shellabarger said. “We have also found that some may dismiss it, simply because they do not know enough about it, to see its full potential and value. This is why we wanted to offer the webinar for clergy and parish leaders.”
Dan Donaldson, director of diocesan and strategic partnerships for the Augustine Institute, will facilitate the webinar “to provide an overview of how parishes are utilizing the website as a tool and a resource for various ministries throughout the parish life.”
Knowing that the Diocese of Sioux City is going through pastoral planning, he said Formed could be beneficial in helping parishes with those transitions.
“Formed is a great tool engagement and what it will allow is for people that may not have been together in the past to have a reason to do so now – to grow in their new parish life together,” said Donaldson, who stressed the benefit of having a digital resource that could be used in multiple locations, even in homes.
The subscription-based website was launched in September of 2015 and since that time more than 3,000 parishes around the world have subscribed to it. He said there are now 350,000 registered users from the parish subscriptions.
There is content on Formed for adult faith formation, family faith formation, RCIA, youth ministry, marriage and family life. The website contains Bible studies, materials to help with sacramental preparation, information for parent-led youth discipleship, plus it has documentaries, Catholic movies, talks and more. There are even many resources available in Spanish.
“We hope parishes utilize Formed to encourage their families to form their faith at home when they are not at church,” said Donaldson, who noted content can help with religious education programs and even some Catholic schools are using some content in classrooms or for faculty formation. “We have hundreds and hundreds of hours of content for every use imaginable in Catholic life.”
Shellabarger said while some refer to it as the “Catholic Netflix,” he stressed that term does not do the website justice.
“It so much more than that and can be used in so many more ways, especially with its broad application from parish faith formation, to small groups, to parish gatherings, to family movie nights and edification in the home,” he said. “Not to mention the great children’s content they have been adding.”
Formed, added Shellabarger, can be used to help build community through small group study, whole parish faith formation, youth ministry rooted in discipleship, sacramental preparation and a whole host of other applications.
“We would love to see it available in as many parishes as possible,” he said. “I would recommend parishes prayerfully consider using our Bishop’s Education Grant for Parishes to help cover the costs.”
Content on the website can be used not only for formation, but many of the books, talks and movies are inspirational.
“It’s also for evangelization. When a parish gets a subscription to Formed, they can share that access to every human being in their parish boundaries – not just the registered Catholics,” stressed Donaldson. “In fact some parishes have even sent out postcards with their parish code to Formed to all households in their parish boundaries.”
There is no cost to participate in the webinar and a free month trial is included.
Shellabarger pointed out the diocese is still determining how Formed may be used.
To sign up for the webinar go to: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4311504333792038401.