God calls every Catholic Christian adult to ongoing and lifelong Faith Formation. Our Adult Faith Formation at Bellarmine seeks to form active disciples who experience God’s invitation and grace in the flow between prayer and action in their lives, how one informs and flows into the other. We use these excerpts from, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States to describe our goals for Formation at Bellarmine.
The three goals of Adult Faith Formation include:
- Invite and Enable Ongoing Conversion to Jesus in Holiness of Life. In response to God’s call to holiness, our faith and life as adult disciples are grounded in developing a personal relationship with Jesus, “the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:69, Mk 1:24). Accordingly, “‘at the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. . . .’ Catechesis aims at putting ‘people . . . in communion . . . with Jesus Christ.'” As its first goal, faith formation helps adults “to acquire an attitude of conversion to Christ.” This attitude fosters a baptismal spirituality for adults. It means putting on the mind of Christ, trusting in God’s love, seeking holiness of life, and growing in love for others. Deepening personal prayer is a significant means to grow holiness in daily life.
- Promote and Support Active Membership in the Christian Community. As adult believers, we learn and live our faith as active members of the Church. Our response to God’s call to community is “incarnated” and reveals itself by a visible entry into a community of believers. A community, itself, is a sign of transformation, a sign of newness of life: it is the Church.” People find this community of faith in the parish, in their families, small faith communities, personal relationships, faith-based associations, and in the communion of saints of all times and places.
- Call and Prepare Adults to Act as Active Disciples in Mission to the World. The Church and its adult faithful have a mission in and to the world. This mission involves sharing Christ’s message to renew and transform the social order. This dual calling to evangelization and justice is integral to the identity of the lay faithful. God calls all to evangelize from baptism. Accordingly, faith formation seeks to help each adult believer become “more willing and able to be a Christian disciple in the world.” Adult disciples give witness to God’s love so that, in the power of the Spirit, they renew the face of the earth.
Bellarmine has grown a “culture” of adults of all ages and walks of life who participate in our weekly Faith Formation sessions. These typically occur between the 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Masses, and before the 7 p.m. Mass on Sundays or on weekdays in Hailstones or Alter Halls. We offer bible study, praying The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as a retreat in everyday life, Catholic Social Teaching, parent groups, and more. Watch for the promotion of these ongoing opportunities in our bulletin and social media.
In addition to our ongoing Adult Formation on Sundays, the parish frequently sponsors workshops, lecture series, an annual parish leadership retreat in August, and an annual winter retreat in January. All of these opportunities deepen God’s life within us and increase our prayer and works of active discipleship. We develop these offerings through the lens of Ignatian spirituality in light of the spiritual needs of our parish community and the “signs of the times.” Look for information in the bulletin and the website for events and dates.
All members of Bellarmine Chapel are encouraged to engage in their ongoing formation into discipleship by reflecting on the upcoming Sunday Gospel before celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday.Reading and prayerful reflection on the Sunday Scriptures greatly enhances one’s experience of the presence of Christ in the Word, in the Eucharist, and in the community gathered.
Choose from among these great resources to guide you:
At Home with the Word
The Sunday Website at St. Louis University
Catholic Relief Services Gospel Reflection
National Catholic Reporter
Conversation starters: videos of current, engaging presentations
One of the elements of parish life to which Bellarmine is intentionally committed and contributes to our vitality is the formation and ongoing support of Small Faith Communities. These communities regularly meet at parishioners’ homes, on campus, or via Zoom. Through reflection and conversation the members deepen their life of prayer with God and their sense of social responsibility with their neighbor through the Sunday Scriptures, or The Spiritual Exercises, or other resources. The frequency, focus, and format of each Small Faith Community depend on the needs and desires of its members. One community may engage in faith-sharing, another may study Scripture together or discuss a film or a book. Some have read together recent documents of Pope Francis. The experience in the Small Faith Community is not to solve problems but to help its members live as authentic disciples in our world. These faith communities serve as constant reminders that the Church is not the building but the living community of disciples.
Currently, we have around 21 active Small Faith Communities–and new ones are continually forming. Parish members are always welcome to initiate new small communities. Resources and guidance will be provided. Usually, we invite parishioners to consider launching or joining a small group in the fall and winter. Or, after a small group has completed a shared experience of study or prayer, they are sometimes inclined to remain together.
The First Spiritual Exercises by Michael Hansen, S.J. includes four 4-week retreats described as “broad-based rather than a deep dive.” (Books and manuals are available for a facilitator to lead these accessible retreats.) Here are the titles:
Giving Inner Peace in Divine Love: The primary purpose of this retreat is to remember, experience, and express love. It is built around the Contemplation to Receive Divine Love or the “Contemplatio” which is the culmination of The Spiritual Exercises
Giving Inner Peace in Darkness and Light: The focus of this retreat is for one seeking forgiveness, healing, freedom from attachments, and unconditional love. The lack of love, mercy, or healing can feel like darkness. The purpose of this retreat is to bring light into one’s life.e
Giving Inner Peace in Friendship with Jesus: The purpose of this retreat is to bring one into a working relationship with Jesus, to deepen one’s friendship with him. The focus is on creation, incarnation, love, resurrection, and eternal life.
Giving Inner Peace in Service of God: This retreat helps discover meaning in one’s faith, move deeper into divine relationships, and find deeply personal ways to serve God and others through the Body of Christ.
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults Program (“RCIA”) guides and welcomes new members into the Catholic Church.
Bellarmine Chapel has a long-standing and active tradition of involvement in RCIA. The process offers a way to inquire about the Catholic faith, to be introduced to the Bellarmine community, and to be initiated over time into the Catholic Church. Learn more about the RCIA process at Bellarmine.