Resources Faith Formation
Evangelization and catechesis for the mission of forming disciples of Jesus Christ.
Evangelization and catechesis for the mission of forming disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our Faith Formation & Missionary Discipleship team offers evangelization and faith formation workshops, retreats, consultation, and training primarily to parishes, communities, and institutions throughout the Archdiocese of Boston.
A native of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Michael Lavigne currently serves as Assistant Cabinet Secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship at the Archdiocese of Boston, which includes his work as Director of the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation & Parish Support. Additionally, Michael is the President of The Institute for the New Evangelization.
Previously he was the Senior Associate to the Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization in Boston and prior to that he was the Director of the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation for the Diocese of Portland, Maine.
For the past 29 years he has served in the Catholic Church in a variety of leadership roles for evangelization and faith formation in diocesan, parish, and Catholic school settings. On the side he has served as a member of the school committee of his hometown and coached middle/high school sports. He is a workshop presenter and retreat facilitator who covers a wide array of topics – from Evangelization to Chastity to Family Life to the Eucharist to the Dignity of Life and more.
Michael’s most important roles, outside of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, are that of husband and father. He is married to Lori and they are the proud parents of Michael Jr., Mariana, John Paul, Therese, Julia, Chiara, Celeste, and Timothy. The Lavigne’s reside in North Dighton, Massachusetts. Michael and Lori produce a podcast on the domestic church called Raising 8: A Couple of Sinners Trying to Raise Saints (raising8.net).
Michael has earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and communications from Rhode Island College, as well as a Master of Arts degree in theology from Providence College.
Patrick has worked for the archdiocese since 2014. He works in the areas of faith formation, ethnic communities, pastoral planning, evangelization, discipleship, and leadership. Patrick has worked previously in parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere as a Director for Evangelization, Director of Religious Education, and Coordinator of Youth Ministry. He and his wife have two sons.
Liz is first and foremost, a daughter of God. She is married to her best friend, Tony, and enjoys his help with preparing couples for marriage. She has three adult children and loves being “Nana” to her grandkids. Liz started serving in ministry when her children were small as many moms do. Eventually, her pastor asked her to run the high school faith formation program. Equipped with a bachelor’s degree in business from Worcester State College, she knew she needed more theology. After certificates in catechesis and youth ministry, she moved on to get her Master of Theological Studies from Saint John’s Seminary. Before coming to the Archdiocese of Boston in 2016, Liz was the director of youth and young adult ministry for the Worcester Diocese. She has been blessed to serve on team for Cursillo, lead pilgrimages to Marian sites, and mission trips locally and abroad.
Chris is originally from Caldwell, New Jersey and has lived in Massachusetts since 1991. He is a graduate of Boston College with degrees in both Theology and History. After college Chris began a 31-year career in the life insurance industry where he worked in sales, distribution, and account management for the estate planning and charitable giving market. Throughout his professional career Chris was also actively engaged in serving his parish in a variety of roles including working part-time as a parish youth minister, volunteering in faith formation for both children and adults, serving on the parish RCIA team as catechist and sponsor, and coordinating parish-wide evangelization efforts by running the ChristLife series.
In 2017 Chris left the corporate world and transitioned his passion for the gospel into a full-time position with the Archdiocese of Boston, where he seeks to support parishes in the mission of forming and equipping disciples for the work of evangelization.
Chris and his wife Krissy currently live in Attleboro, MA with their sons Brendan and Kolbe.
Rosemary is originally from Hingham and, after living in Minnesota and Florida, returned to the area to attend Boston College. After graduating with a degree in Marketing and Human Resources, Rosemary made Boston her home and enjoyed work in human resources roles within financial services for over a decade.
In response to the Lord’s call to use her leadership and organizational development experience coupled with her love for Christ to serve the Church directly in her daily work, Rosemary pursued a Master of Arts in Ministry from the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization, complemented with study through Loyola University in Rome and the Theology of the Body Institute in PA, and joined the Archdiocese of Boston.
In addition to an interest in igniting a love for Christ in others through the new evangelization, she has a particular interest in the Theology of the Body, the dignity of human life, the intersection of faith and business, and the intersection of faith and culture. She loves visiting with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration and meeting Him in each individual encounter until we see Him face to face!
Lorna DesRoses currently serves Black Catholics within the Archdiocese of Boston by supporting, assisting, and providing resources to assist in the work of evangelization within the Black Catholic community and assisting parishes and institutions to provide pastoral care in a culturally appropriate and culturally sensitive manner so that members of ethnic and cultural communities will feel welcomed, included, and valued as part of the life of the Archdiocese of Boston. Before serving in this capacity, she worked as a teacher of English as a Second Language in various educational settings. Lorna strives to joyfully give witness to the Good news of the love of Christ with everyone she meets. She lives in Boston with her husband Robert.
“We unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God’s healing, God’s unconditional love.” Sr. Thea Bowman
Sr. Elsa Narváez Rodríguez, was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. In 2004, Sr. Elsa joined the Missionary Servants of the Word, a community that allows young people to serve as a lay missionaries for a period of time. After two and a half years as a lay missionary she decided to pursue religious life in the religious branch of the same community. Her firs assignment as a religious sister was in Portsmouth NH and after that she was sent to serve the Hispanic community of St. Joseph Parish in Lynn MA. Since 2016 Sr. Elsa has served Hispanic Communities within the Archdiocese of Boston.
Below you will find information regarding some of the many excellent programs and resources available to assist adults in growing in their knowledge and practice of the faith. Please do not hesitate to contact our team for more information.
An ACTS Retreat is a parish-based event which offers parishioners an opportunity to experience the love of Jesus Christ. This in turn fosters a desire for intentional discipleship. ACTS Retreats are given by parishioners for parishioners, and serve to build Christian community at a parish.
The ACTS Retreat begins Thursday evening and ends with Sunday Mass in the parish. While utilizing prayer, service, and teaching, the ACTS Retreat meets people where they are in their spiritual journey and invites them to experience God in a manner that is both personal and communal. ACTS stands for “Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service.”
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith, typically over the course of eleven weeks. Each session is designed to create informal and honest conversation around questions people have about Christian faith. The format is very adaptable, but the three core elements are a meal, a talk or video presentation, and small group discussion.
Mary Queen of Apostles Salem and the Apple Valley Catholic Collaborative in Acton and Stow are using it in the Archdiocese of Boston, among others. Saint Benedict Parish in Halifax, Nova Scotia has had among the most success with Alpha of any Catholic parish in the world. Catholics who endorse the use of Alpha include Cardinal Seán and Archbishop Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
Ascension Press provides resources and study programs to facilitate small group discipleship. Program offerings include Bible studies, Church history, prayer, marriage enrichment, baptismal preparation, divorce support, and more for those in middle school through adults. Many resources are also available in Spanish.
Called & Gifted is a workshop which typically takes place in a parish over the course of one evening and the following full day. The workshop is actually only the first step in a three-step discernment process. The second step is a gifts discernment interview and the third step is a small group discernment process, a period of testing and evaluating one’s charisms and learning how best to use them in one’s life. This process has been designed to help Christians discern the presence of charisms, particular gifts of strengths given by God, in their lives.
St. Dominic Catholic Church in San Francisco CA and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Santa Clarita CA have both used this process extensively to transform the culture of discipleship in their parishes. They report that attendees consistently become more involved in the parish and more committed to bearing witness through their life and work outside the parish.
ChristLife is a three-part evangelization process that begins with a seven-week kerygmatic series titled “Discovering Christ,” followed by two more similar series entitled “Following Christ,” which addresses Catholic discipleship, and “Sharing Christ,” which addresses sharing Christ with others. There is a day-long retreat in week five.
The series is hosted at your parish and includes dinner, welcoming, prayer, a 30-minute video presentation, and small group discussion. The materials are available in English and Spanish. St. Andre Bessette in Laconia NH reports success with this program, as do a number of Archdiocese of Boston parishes.
Cursillo is three-day weekend retreat experience; a short course in Christianity. It helps its participants encounter Christ in a profound way so that they will be equipped to answer Christ’s call to “go out and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). There are talks by priests and lay people, small group discussions, prayer, reconciliation, and Mass. It is followed up by optional monthly group reunions called Ultreya as well as small faith sharing groups. The weekends serve men and women separately. Cursillo is offered in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Portuguese in the Archdiocese of Boston. For more information, contact the Cursillo community that works best for you:
Entertaining Angels is a one-day hospitality training seminar rooted in the mission of the Catholic Church to make disciples and geared toward those who are “first contact” staff and volunteers. Those who are the first to interact with parishioners and visitors have a crucial role in determining whether or not those parishioners and visitors will ever want to return regardless of their job or volunteer duties.
Participants will come away feeling greater confidence about sharing Christ with whoever might visit the parish. They will learn what to say even during brief interactions. Those who attend will benefit from a presentation including times for reflection, prayer, and chances to practice evangelizing conversations in a low-pressure setting.
Evangelical Catholic Reach More is a way of building a culture of community and discipleship formation in your parish through small groups. An on-line system supports the local coordinator in leading the establishment of the small groups and the training and ongoing support of the small group leaders. By design it is a flexible platform for small group discipleship. St. Matthew Parish Billerica has used Reach More, among others.
Light of the World (LOTW) is a parish-based weekend retreat experience designed to provide an encounter with Jesus Christ through the kerygma and a renewal of the Sacraments of Initiation over the course of the weekend, with small group follow-up. It involves parishioners coming to the parish days and evenings over the course of the weekend but does not involve an overnight stay. The program is also available in Spanish. St. Mary’s Uxbridge in the Diocese of Worcester is reporting tremendous success. St. Thomas the Apostle in Crystal Lake IL has been running Light of the World longer than any other parish.
St. Paul Street Evangelization offers in-person and virtual training to proclaim the Gospel in the public square using the method: Listen, Befriend, Proclaim, Invite.
Word on Fire offers a variety of podcasts, videos, blogs, study programs, and other resources on particular topics.
The Boston area is home to a high concentration of young adults, especially in and near the city itself. The Faith Formation & Missionary Disciples team supports parishes, apostolates, and other groups involved in young adult ministry in efforts to accompany young adults in evangelization and discipleship. The team also assists young adults in connecting to young adult ministry activities. For information on local young adult groups, connecting to other young adult leaders, or forming a new young adult group please contact Chris Donoghue. If you are currently a leader of a ministry to young adults, or are considering becoming one, you may find some of the resources below helpful to your efforts.
A ministry structured around a series of events centering on faith topics of interest to young adults. These events can be held in a restaurant, a parish hall, a coffeehouse, even in a bar—places where young adults already are comfortable and feel welcome. These events feature an engaging speaker presenting a theological topic, time for discussion, faith sharing, and community building.
The idea behind Nightfever is simple: to open the church during the night and invite everyone who walks by, especially young people, to a moment of tranquility and to an encounter with God. Whoever goes out on a Friday or Saturday night usually have other destinations like restaurants, pubs, dance clubs or cinemas on their mind. We want to address these people and invite them to pause for a moment and to come into the church, offering them a candle to light inside. The church is illuminated almost exclusively by candles, and there is quiet live music that goes on throughout the night with people available for conversations and prayer if desired.
A ministry initiative for young adults that creates monthly “Disciples’ Nights” to help deepen personal conversion, foster communion, and grow in an understanding of what it means to be a Catholic disciple in the world today. The meeting consists of Mass, dinner, and a compelling talk centered on discipleship. Every member is encouraged to join a Men’s or Women’s “Discipleship Group” to provide a smaller environment where effective material can be examined and applied, and to develop life-giving relationships where members can be encouraged, challenged, loved, and held accountable. Two video series, “Foundations of Discipleship” and “Our Deepest Identity”, comprise the foundation of each Discipleship Group session.
Invigorated by a community of peers and mentors, young, Catholic professionals are empowered to witness to their faith at work and through work, performing their professional vocations for the glory of God and seeing the workplace as a natural site for joyful evangelization. Central to YCP’s mission of engaging young Catholic leaders is the importance of connecting them with seasoned Catholic professionals who have already made the choice to live out their faith in all aspects of their life. Young Catholic Professionals offers its members an avenue to engage with prominent Catholic executives in a way that is unique among young adult ministries.
FOCUS is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students. Trained in Church teaching, prayer, sacred Scripture, evangelization and discipleship, FOCUS missionaries encounter students in friendship where they are, inviting them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and one-on-one discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up students in the faith, sending them out to spread the good news and to live out the Great Commission: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19). Many free resources for ministry to young adults beyond a college campus are also available.
A Discipleship Quad is a group of four people who journey together as disciples through weekly gatherings of fellowship, ongoing conversion, and learning. This 12-month path of accompaniment fosters growth through prayer, accountability, and authentic relationships. Here’s what makes Discipleship Quads different than anything else you’ll find: The size of the Quad is four, allowing for a greater intimacy among members. Choosing who to invite into a Quad is discerned through prayer. There is a rotation of leadership during the Quad’s time together. Fellowship is a meaningful part of the experience. This model has had over three decades of success. It is all free of charge, there’s no cost to you or your parish!
As the domestic church, the family home is “a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1666). Parents, therefore, are the “first preachers of the faith to their children” (Lumen Gentium, 11). In fact, their role in educating their children in the faith is “so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it” (Familiaris Consortio, 36).
Intergenerational faith formation supports parents in their role as “first preachers of the faith”, facilitates lifelong faith formation for all generations, encourages missionary discipleship in addition to catechesis, and engages the talents of the whole parish community.
Intergenerational faith formation programs often consist of monthly or bi-weekly gatherings of all families at the Church and some include weekly sessions in each individual family home. A combination of textbooks, videos, speakers, arts/crafts, home grown curricula with take home lessons is used to create dynamic content for learning. Successful programs incorporate check-in calls from catechists or other volunteers to families between the sessions to accompany them in the family faith journey, training and support for catechists between sessions, and prayer teams dedicated to praying for a fruitful program. If a parish community is introducing an intergenerational faith formation program for the first time it is prudent to host multiple informational sessions for parishioners and training sessions for catechists.
Parishes typically host families in the intergenerational faith formation program once a month, or bi-weekly, (often after Mass) for seven months. Each session typically covers a specific topic related to the chosen theme for the year (e.g. session topic: Baptism, theme for the year: Sacraments). Depending on the needs of the community, multiple sessions might be made available. It is helpful to host the sessions in a Church facility that can accommodate a large group session and small group breakout sessions.
Communities often host the monthly session after Mass. The morning or evening often starts in the large group with a meal (provided by the parish, parents, or volunteers), followed by prayer which can incorporate the theme for the session. Then participants break off into small groups (often by age, although some programs arrange groups including a diversity of ages to encourage mentorship) for a lesson on the same topic and an opportunity to grow in faith. If small groups consist of multiple ages, guidance on mentorship is crucial to ensure older children are having a fruitful experience and fully engaging as mentors. Adults meet separately to enjoy a session geared toward their level and learning style; curriculum for adults might include a miniseries like The Catholicism Series or live speakers and sessions focused on relationship building and evangelization. The groups then often come together for a group session, closing prayers and announcements.
In between these sessions, the faith is lived out and learned in the home, possibly through weekly sessions led by parents and daily within the context of family life. Parents lean on the take-away sheets they received at the last parish session to lead their children in easy-to-understand weekly sessions (about an hour each) that bring the whole family together for dynamic and prayerful sessions often using hands-on activities, videos, and prayer. Families are encouraged to live out these lessons daily as they grow closer with one another and with Christ. Catechists check in to offer prayerful support and accompaniment during this time in between sessions. Also during this time, parish teams typically host catechists for a preview of the next month’s session.
Communities that have embraced this model have seen great fruit in increased sense of community, strengthened families, heightened adult engagement, stronger Mass attendance, and growth individually in relationships with Christ.
USCCB Evangelization and Catechesis
Sophia Institute Family of Faith curriculum
Loyola Press: Christ Our Life; Loyola Press: Finding God
Our Sunday Visitor Take Home Sheets
If you are prayerfully considering implementing an intergenerational faith formation program in your parish, please reach out to Rosemary Maffei with any questions and to be connected to communities who have had success with this model of faith formation.
The Faith Formation & Missionary Discipleship team works to support youth ministry efforts throughout the Archdiocese.
Experienced youth minister and speaker Everett Fritz considers the challenge of encouraging youth engaged in youth ministry and large church events for young people to remain committed to lifelong discipleship.
Cultivation Ministries offers training, resources, and support to adult and student youth ministry leaders and grew out of Frank Mercadante’s successful parish youth ministry experience.
This post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis provides important insights regarding accompaniment and engagement of young people in the life of the Church today.
DFYM is an approach that focuses in on Discipleship and uses the fruits of Discipleship to make more disciples. This is the approach that Christ taught us. While having the vision to reach the entire world, He did so by investing in a few (His Disciples). Those Disciples then invested in others (Discipleship) in order to make more Disciples.
Life Teen is a movement within the Roman Catholic Church, Life Teen leads teenagers and their families into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.
Experienced youth minister and speaker Christopher Wesley offers youth ministry coaching and resources.
This groundbreaking, long-term, study directed by Christian Smith, Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, began in August 2001 and provides a wealth of information regarding the religious lives of American youth from adolescence into young adulthood.
ProjectYM exists to equip Catholic youth ministers for success.
Young Life doesn’t start with a program. It starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight — they take time, patience, trust and consistency. Simply put, the mission of Young Life is introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. Young Life is a Christian organization, not a Catholic one. Here is an article on why Catholic dioceses are teaming up with Young Life. Here is a blog post on Young Life’s attempts to build bridges with Catholic dioceses.
This book by experienced Evangelical Protestant Youth Minister Doug Fields is a helpful resource for new coordinators of youth ministry and parishes considering starting youth ministry or hiring a coordinator of youth ministry.
As you are prayerfully discerning the faith formation model that would work best for your community, check out the these descriptions of common models and the strengths and challenges of each.
Helping your children develop a relationship with God begins in the home.
“The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called ‘the domestic Church.’… [and] like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith…[for] future evangelization depends largely on the domestic Church.” (Familiaris Consortio, 21, 51, 65)
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a Montessori-based religious formation program for children ages 3 through 12 which focuses on the child’s relationship with God and assists the child as he or she learns to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was developed almost 75 years ago in Italy and now takes place throughout the world.
A typical session includes prayer, a presentation on Scripture or the liturgy, and time for the children to work with materials from the presentation and silently ponder the mysteries presented. CGS philosophy has the child first ponder God’s love for them and then teach them how to live out the Catholic faith. It is not a classroom style of teaching and allows for more flexibility to teach at the child’s own pace. For this reason, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is also very effective for children with learning disabilities.
If you have questions or would like to see if it is possible to bring Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to your parish, contact Melissa Kalpakgian.
Originally from Texas, Melissa brings to the Boston area her southern hospitality and her “y’all.” Melissa has worked in evangelization efforts for the Church in some way, shape, or form for 18 years in different areas of the country, the last 5 in the Archdiocese of Boston. Her fascination with St. John Paul II’s philosophical works led her to pursue a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and her M.A. in Thomistic Philosophy from the Center of Thomistic Studies. She is also certified in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Levels 1, 2, and 3. In her free time, she and her husband strive to discover the meaning of “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:9) in the various facets of life.
In 2017 a report on American Catholic Religious Parenting was published at the University of Notre Dame from which a key takeaway was that “Parents should be informed of their role and empowered, not intimidated.” We encourage you to find opportunities to remind parents of their indispensable and God given role to form their children in the faith.
The Archdiocese of Boston team is providing content to assist you as you inform and empower the parents in your parish. The provided messages, which includes quotes from the Notre Dame report, can be used in bulletins, websites, Mass announcements, and social media.
Project Nazareth is a tool created to help parents engage their children in conversations and activities that strengthen the domestic church. Project Nazareth is currently available to all parishes (and parents) in the Archdiocese of Boston at no cost. To learn more, visit projectnazareth.org.
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Week 1: Parents – Your children come to you first for everything. When they’re hurt. When they have a question. When they need something. They come to you first because they trust you. Your children also come to you first for faith. You show them the love and mercy of God in how you love them. Faith begins at home.
Week 2: Parents – Infants depend on their parents for everything. When they are hungry, tired, or just need to be held. You are their “first responders” and they trust you. Your children also come to you first for faith. You show them the love and mercy of God in how you love them. Faith begins at home.
Week 3: Parents – When your child falls and gets hurt during the day or wakes up frightened in the middle of the night, they call out for you first. “Mom!” “Dad!” You play a unique role in keeping them safe and healthy. Your children also come to you first for faith. You set an example and show them the love and mercy of God in how you love them. Faith begins at home.
Week 4: Parents – Teenagers are faced with many choices. Having to make decisions can be stressful but it is also part of growing up. Your children depend on you first for guidance as they navigate the stressful teenage years. As they make decisions about their faith they come to you first. You show them the love and mercy of God in how you love them. You model for them how a Christian lives. Faith begins at home!
“The crucial location where youth’s religious outcomes are largely decided is not the congregation or the parish, but the home.”
“Generally speaking, no religious influence besides mom and dad is positioned to demonstrate convincingly to children the desirability of practicing the Catholic faith.”
“If children do not “see” Catholicism in the “face” of their parents, they will likely never gain sufficient familiarity with it to commit to practicing the faith in the long run.”
“Rising above the everyday hubbub of domestic life, parents must consider how they wish to channel religious activity in the household purposefully in accord with their values and goals.”
‘“I am the religious formator of my children’ should be a primary point of parental self-identity and responsibility.”