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Faith Formation at Holy Spirit Catholic Church


Whole Community Catechesis

We call it - ECHO -

Enriching Church and Home Opportunities (for faith)


ECHO is an umbrella term for our parish whole community catechesis faith endeavor.  It’s mission is Enriching Church and Home Opportunities (ECHO) for life long faith formation by connecting faith with real life . . . and that means there is something for everyone!  The General Directory for Catechesis tells us that catechesis is:  GDC #’s 85 & 86 promoting knowledge of the faith, which is what we call religious education;

  1. liturgical education, leading a true liturgical life;
  2. moral formation, learning the Way based on conversion to Jesus Christ;
  3. teaching to pray, which requires apprenticeship;
  4. education for community life, including the ecumenical dimension;
  5. development of households of faith;
  6. preparation to work in the vineyard as an active minister in an interfaith setting.

 Each of us is called to this multi-faceted life-long faith formation . . . challenging, isn’t it?  How can you and your household grow in faith this year?  The goal of whole community catechesis is to have all ages engaged in some type of formational learning about their faith. (All Children Pre-K – Grade 6 should be enrolled in religious formation/education at either St Joseph School or with ECHO.)  Participate in one or all of the ECHO events offered!  Within ECHO there are opportunities for all ages:


  • event-centered intergenerational occasions that include a meal and a catechetical component.  Great food, fine fellowship and lots of fun!  Ideally, all parishioners should attend ECHO Assemblies. There are 6 ECHO Assemblies per year.


  • conveniently scheduled walk-through displays that focus on a specific catechetical topic.  Appropriate for all ages.  Very informative! Displayed after weekend Masses as scheduled.


  • age appropriate classroom sessions for primary grades 1-6 held between Masses on the third and fourth weekends of the month, as scheduled. Children preparing for Sacraments are required to be enrolled in ECHO High and Senior High ministries are also available.  Be certain to pass on the faith!


  • resources available to reinforce catechetical themes in your household of faith (the DOMESTIC CHURCH). Distributed at ECHO ASSEMBLIES.  Watch for the new ECHO calendar for 2012-13 dates.

Frequently Asked Questions 



A.     The whole movement toward an approach to catechesis which involves the entire parish community comes from four main sources.  First, catechetical leaders in the church have given careful consideration to the way Jesus taught, as the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) suggests.  Second, catechetical leaders have all reflected seriously on the teachings of Vatican II for more than forty years.  Third, the direction provided by the GDC itself has been nothing other than revolutionary.  And fourth, there is an emerging consensus in the catechetical community that the present way in which we do our ministry, in what's known as the "schoolhouse" framework, just isn't working as well as we'd like it to.

Faith must be lived in everyday life.  It must be part and parcel of people's decisions, their hopes and dreams, their business and political activity, their contribution to the materially poor, their family life, and their supper table.  The goal of whole community catechesis is focused at the point where people actually live their lives.  It seeks to deepen and enrich people's faith so that the church is wherever they are.  The church is, indeed, the people of God living in their own homes and neighborhoods, attending their workplaces and schools, engaging in commerce in shopping malls, downtown, and corner stores, gathering in bars, clubs, restaurants, and fast food joints.  The challenge is to live your life while living your faith.

COPY PERMISSION GRANTED Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. Twenty-Third Publications, 800-321-0411


A.     Whole community catechesis is an approach to parish religious

education through which youth and adults as well as children are invited to participate in faith formation programs throughout the year. The entire community thus becomes the focus of all we do in catechesis.


In whole community catechesis, what happens in the Sunday assembly for Mass is closely connected to religious education.

        The liturgy of the Word from Sunday is the starting point.

        Catechesis or faith formation must flow from that Word

        and each learner is invited to "break open the Word,"

to share their faith about what they believe.


        Also in whole community catechesis,

                parents play a vital role

                alongside all the other members of the community.

        Catechesis is not just for children!

                It's for everyone.

        Every Catholic is invited to know and love the Church,

                to walk with Christ in his or her daily life,

                and to gather faithfully together on Sunday for the parish Mass.


        Added to that, whole community catechesis

                places great emphasis on developing households of faith.

        It's certainly true for a child,

                but also true for everyone,

                that no matter how effective

                our experience of faith might be at the parish level,

                what really counts is how we live that faith

                in our everyday lives at home!

        If our homes are not places where the faith is shared and lived,

then the work of catechesis is like sowing seed on rocky ground.


COPY PERMISSION GRANTED Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. Twenty-Third Publications, 800-321-0411.




Why can’t we continue calling it CCD or religious ed or religion class (or faith formation?)

A.   At Vatican II it was important for the bishops of the world, along with the pope, to refer to the Church using new language. In order for the reform envisioned by Pope John XXIII to become reality, we needed a new way of speaking about the Church.  So, the bishops began to refer to the Church under a new name; the people of God.  They knew that if the Church was called that, soon it would become that, and they were right. The pope and bishops knew that language affects our perception of reality and, in turn, our actions:

if we call something by a new but true name it becomes that thing!

The same is true for whole community catechesis.  How we name what we do is very important.  We will become what we call ourselves. If we continue calling our programs schools of religion, or religious education programs, or religion class (or CCD,) most people will see them as mainly for children.  However if we call what we do by a new name, whole community catechesis, people will soon see it as part and parcel of being Catholic. We don’t want to put new wine into old wineskins, after all.  As Dick Reichert said in the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (Update No. 7):  “the real challenge . . is to create a radical new paradigm of catechesis. . . . It cannot simply be a process of going back to the past or making surface modifications of the present models.”  In other words it isn’t sufficient . . . to shift the furniture in our present method so classrooms look different.  We need a radical new paradigm in order to achieve the goals of the General Directory for Catechesis.



  COPY PERMISSION GRANTED Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. Twenty-Third Publications, 800-321-0411.






A.     A congregation of learners creates a culture of learning.  In such a congregation, every activity of Church life, meetings, worship, service, and community events is viewed as an opportunity for learning.  Catechesis is seamlessly integrated with liturgy, justice and service, prayer and spirituality.  Catechesis prepares people for active, conscious, meaningful participation in liturgy and in the Church year.  It helps them reflect on the meaning and significance of their participation on their lives as Catholics.  Catechesis prepares people for the work of justice and acts of service, and helps individuals reflect on the connection between their actions and their faith.  This approach leads to a deepening of Catholic commitment and an increased Catholic practice.  It contributes to the creation of a strong sense of community and develops a community's capacity to be self-renewing.


COPY PERMISSION GRANTED Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. Twenty-Third Publications, 800-321-0411.