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Symbolon training to be held in diocese next month

By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
(Email Renee)

A diocesan-wide adult faith formation and RCIA leadership training conference will be held next month in Sioux City.

Slated for Aug. 8-10 at St. Michael Church, Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained is designed to open up the “big picture” of the Catholic faith in a way that helps them know it, live it and articulate it to others. The training, which is offered by the Augustine Institute in Denver, is sponsored by the diocese’s Office of New Evangelization.

Sean Martin, diocesan director of new evangelization, said the training will include prayer with Mass and adoration, keynote presentations as well as breakout sessions for the two tracks – RCIA and adult faith formation. For those with the adult formation track, a centerpiece of the training will be focused on the U.S. bishops’ document, Our Hearts Are Burning Within Us.

“After the weekend training, there will be monthly trainings to go a little deeper into the areas you are interested in,” he said. “There will be monthly webinars and participants will have access to various other online resources.”

In addition, a follow-up conference is set for Feb. 21.

He spoke of the importance that Bishop Walker Nickless places on adult faith formation and catechesis.

In Bishop Nickless’ pastoral letter, Ecclesia Semper Reformanda, he stated, “Youth and young adult catechesis cannot be healthy unless we have rigorously well-formed adults who witness the Catholic faith in their lives, in teaching their families, and in the church and the public square.”

The Symbolon training, Martin said, is support the work of the parishes in their adult faith formation efforts. He added that it is also a chance for parish leaders to receive RCIA training specifically on the rites and catechetical methodology.

“There is a stat that shows one in three people who come into the church through RCIA, leave the church within the first couple of years,” he said. “Having better catechesis, formation and doing the rites properly is very important.”

Ongoing formation, Martin added, is important for all Catholics – not just those new to the church.

“Our education and formation in the faith does not end with baptism, first Communion or confirmation – it’s a lifetime,” he said.

The Augustine Institute will provide a dynamic team of catechists and leaders from across the country to offer workshops for clergy and parish leaders involved in RCIA, adult faith formation, youth ministry and evangelization.

The diocese’s own Martin is among the trained facilitators. He will be one of four presenters for the upcoming conference in Sioux City. Joining him will be Martha Tonn, Scott Sollom and Michelle Nilsson.

Martin said not only is the training designed for people working in the parishes – clergy, RCIA directors, faith formation directors and DREs – but it can be helpful for parish catechists and various volunteers, such as those who may want to lead a Bible study.

“We’re actually going to go through and draft a plan of action for going back into the parish to do adult formation,” he said.

“While this is not required, I highly encourage people to attend,” Martin added. “Anyone who wants to learn more is welcome to join in on the training. I have yet to see anything as good as this training is. I would highly encourage it. It’s definitely quality.”

Cost of the year-long training – which includes the two conferences as well as online education and resources – is $280 per person. Sign up online at www.symbolonrcia.org/siouxcityconference. For more information call Kari Smith at (712) 233-7530.


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