By Claudia Mathis
The Syracuse Diocese is gearing up to celebrate the Year of Faith, which will begin on Oct. 11 and end on Nov. 24, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI announced the celebration last October through his apostolic letter “Porta Fidei.” Oct. 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“It will tie in nicely with what we have been called to do with the New Evangelization,” commented Danielle Cummings, Director of the Diocesan Communications Office and Assistant Chancellor.
The Year of Faith and the New Evangelization both summon Catholics to deepen their relationship with Christ and to share it with others.
The Year of Faith celebration will commence with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham on Oct. 11 at 12:10 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.
A committee of eight headed by Cummings is currently planning local sites of pilgrimages for the celebration.
Last week, Bishop Cunningham sent a letter to each parish and ministry in the diocese, informing them of the Mass. He also sent a booklet containing a list of resources that can be used in their ministries. “It’s what parishes and schools can do to encourage individuals, families and young people to rekindle their faith,” said Cummings.
Included in the booklet of resources was a list of “Spiritual and Formational Afternoons of Reflections For All Priests and Deacons.” The events will be held once each month, except for December and January, at Christ the King Retreat House in Syracuse.
The list of resources for parishes includes many websites that offer ways to enrich one’s faith. Other suggestions include attending adult faith formation presentations sponsored by the diocesan Office of Faith Formation and becoming a member of a book club where people meet for discussion, prayer and community.
The Journey With Jesus program was also suggested as a resource for parishes. In an attempt to help them become physically and spiritually fit, parishioners are given reflection questions on the Sunday scriptures. They are encouraged to discuss them as they exercise. When they come to Mass, they check in with the person who is keeping track of the miles accumulated by the parish. Miles could also be given for attending Mass, saying the rosary or whatever else the parish would like to add.
One suggested activitiy for families is learning the meaning of some of the monthly devotions and then celebrating them. Another suggestion is to celebrate the Week of Witness on Jan. 20-27 by encouraging families to find ways of being of service to others.
A number of websites are also listed as resources for schools.
A resource for youth and youth groups is YOUCAT, a new youth catechism based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The book is written for and by young people who want to better understand what they believe. The corresponding website, www.youcat.org, is one on which young Catholics from all over the world can come together and share creatively on their faith.
Cummings mentioned that additional resources would be added to the diocesan website throughout the year. In addition, parishes will be asked to share their best practices on the website and on Facebook.
Pastors were also sent a suggested liturgy for their Mass on the weekend of Oct. 13-14 to kick off the Year of Faith in their parishes.
Cummings said that Bishop Cunningham would write a pastoral letter on the Year of Faith.
Pope Benedict XVI believes that the Year of Faith offers an opportunity to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He also suggested praying the Nicene Creed.