New format design for upcoming Faith Formation Ministry Convention

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By Becky Aubut
Anchor Staff

FALL RIVER, Mass. — The Diocese of Fall River’s Office of Faith Formation is hosting its annual Faith Formation Ministry Convention on November from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.  This year’s convention, themed, “Building the Domestic Church,” will be held at the Resort & Conference Center of Hyannis and is open to anyone in parish ministry and adults who will benefit from the topics regarding family life. 

“After the pope came out with his last encyclical, Amoris Laetitia, we knew we would use the Domestic Church as the centerpiece of our convention,” said Claire McManus, director of the Diocese of Fall River’s Office of Faith Formation. “We brainstormed — and by we, we have our advisory committee who meets about three times a year — and we came up with the theme. They’ll brainstorm workshops that are either needed by various ministries in the parishes, or something that fits the theme.”

However, even though the convention and its workshops seem to lean towards those who work in his or her parish as a catechist or director of Faith Formation: “It’s open to all adults in the diocese,” said McManus.

Workshops are being offered on various topics, along with offerings in Spanish as well. Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., will not only be celebrating Mass but also is that morning’s keynote speaker. Having the keynote speak right after Mass, then allowing attendees to experience the workshops in the afternoon is a new format; gone are the general sessions that were broken up throughout the day. 

“What we did differently is we used to have the keynote speaker during lunch,” said McManus, however they found serving lunch too much of a distraction from the speaker’s message. Bishop da Cunha, she added, “will use this as a vehicle for telling the diocese what his vision of the Domestic Church is.”

There will also be headphones made available for those Spanish-speaking attendees for on-the-spot translations of Bishop da Cunha’s keynote presentation.

John Collins always draws a crowd and “that we always have to be mindful of the fact that parishes use [the convention] to help form their catechists. We always have something that pertains to them,” said McManus.

Collins will be presenting, “Home is Where Their Story Begins: As Catechists, We Continue the Story,” for the first afternoon session. He will focus on how children first learn about “family” in the home, and how they also first learn about God and the Church in their home. Collins will offer ideas and strategies for supporting and engaging family Faith Formation. His second afternoon presentation, “Engaging Students and Families with Creative Games and Activities,” will have participants leave with a list of easy, doable games to engage families in Faith Formation.

“John Roberto has been around for a very long time and he’s always on the cutting edge of alternative models for Faith Formation,” said McManus. “He was the person who originated the Generations of Faith model, which is a total community catechesis, where the adults come with the children. He has since built on that ministry. He is a perfect fit for our theme.”

Roberto is the president of Lifelong Faith Associates (, and has spent his entire life engaged in catechetical ministry at all levels. He will present the same workshop for both afternoon sessions, “Families at the Center of Faith Formation.” Guided by the conviction that families are at the center of Christian Faith Formation, that parents and the family are the most powerful influence of the social and religious lives of children, the presentation will offer a family-at-the-center approach to Faith Formation and eight strategies for bringing it to life.

As registrations come in, said McManus, the workshop being presented by Debbie and Doug Sousa, “Divorce and Remarriage in the Catholic Church,” has garnered quite a few reservation spots. Offered only in the first afternoon session, the couple, already firmly established in Marriage Prep and Remarriage Prep ministries in the Fall River Diocese, will be addressing the difficulties and perceptions of divorce and remarriage in the Catholic Church, as well as the issues surrounding cohabitation, civil marriage and the formation of children in the faith who come from these backgrounds.

Elizabeth Cotrupi, a member of the Archdiocese of Boston as an evangelization consultant, will present, “The Mercy Challenge — Engaging Youth in The New Evangelization. Cotrupi will help you think “outside of the box” when it comes to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

There are also two workshops being offered in Spanish, “Formando Generaciones de Fe en la Comunidad Parroquial,” (Forming Generations of Faith in the Church Community), and “Una Conversion Ecologica: Implementando Laudato Si’ en el Hogar y en la Parroquia,” (An Ecological Conversation: Carrying Out Laudato Si’ in the Home and the Parish Community). 

The registration deadline is October 28. The fee is $35 per person ($30 for groups of five or more), which includes lunch. The Resort & Conference Center is offering a discounted room rate for anyone wishing to stay overnight. To download the registration form and a complete description of workshops and presenters, visit the Office of Faith Formation’s website at or follow the link and register online.

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