Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In 2014, the Diocese of Bridgeport held a Diocesan Synod, a one-year process of reflection, discernment, and preparation for the future. Among many important initiatives to come from the Synod were two that impact St. Pius X in particular. The first was a Diocesan Catechetical Task Force, charged with examining faith formation (especially for children and youth) around the Diocese. The second was a diocesan-wide process of parochial strategic planning.
At St. Pius X, our strategic planning process included a parish survey and a dedicated team of parishioners who, based on data from the survey and other demographic information, set a series of goals for the parish. Those goals were published for the parish and are available on the parish website (www.st-pius.org/strategic-planning/). One of the priorities identified in the strategic planning process was Catechesis and Education. Our parish goal for faith formation is focused on increasing involvement in faith formation at all age-levels, making resources more available to parishioners, and expanding our parish-wide understanding of the Catholic faith.
In the Fall of 2017, the Diocesan Catechetical Task Force issued its report (www.formationreimagined.org/document/). While there are many reasons to be hopeful in the Diocese, it is also clear that there is tremendous room for improvement in our catechetical endeavors. Adult faith formation has, in many cases, been lacking in the Diocese. A comprehensive view of faith formation as a life-long task and need has frequently been absent. Therefore, the Diocesan Catechetical Task Force has recommended that the Diocese reimagine faith formation.
With the Diocesan recommendation and our own parish goals in mind, we, the clergy and staff of St. Pius X Parish, have been critically evaluating our religious education programs. While we have made some changes in the last three years, we see a need for further modification in order to best respond to the real circumstances of our parishioners.
Catechesis in parishes across the United States has followed the same basic model for several decades. Meanwhile, our culture and the demands placed on Catholic families have changed in significant ways. Statistics show that within two years of receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, only about 20% of young people are still attending Mass. Our own analysis of our parish population suggests that only about 20% of the children attending religious education attend Mass with any regularity. There are many factors that cause this, including schedule conflicts, cultural pressure pushing religious practice to the margins, and a general sense of being disconnected from the parish community. This new vision for faith formation at St. Pius X is an attempt to meet Catholic families in their concrete circumstances, accompany them as they seek to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, and creatively respond to the needs of our culture. It has been a long-time coming, and the need to shift our methodology is critical.
After prayerful discernment and a thorough review of the findings of the Catechetical Task Force with the parish staff and with the parish strategic planning team, we are pleased to announce that we will embrace the Diocesan invitation to completely reimagine faith formation at St. Pius X. Please take a moment to read the description of this new vision for our parish on pages 4-6 of the Bulletin. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
P.S. You may also download a PDF copy of New Faith Formation Vision