By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — Our Lady of Lourdes Parish has launched Faith & Fellowship Sundays to help parishioners of all ages become lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. The initiative provides an opportunity to bring parishioners together to grow in faith that builds community, engages people of all ages and is mindful of the burdens on the time and attention of families, said Brett Adams. He serves as the parish’s coordinator of youth ministry and evangelization.
Faith & Fellowship Sundays are whole family/parish gathering events, he said. Another component, Grow Groups, are peer-based faith learning groups for every grade level from K-8 with a group for high school students in the two-year confirmation program and a group for parents and other adults.
Religious education, previously held on Wednesdays, has been incorporated into Faith & Fellowship Sunday. Twice a month, the K-8 groups and confirmation students will meet with their peers to receive grade-specific instruction in a more traditional classroom format (Grow Group), Adams said. “At the same time there will be offerings for adult faith formation.” During non-classroom Fellowship Sundays, all ages will gather for shared learning and fellowship.
Faith & Fellowship Sundays take place from 9-10:15 a.m., between the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday Masses. “All members of the Lourdes parish and school community are invited and encouraged to attend. And when we say all, we mean all,” he emphasized.
Adams said a big challenge for families is finding time to grow in their faith. With work, sports, homework, extracurricular activities and different schedules, it is difficult to get together. “We’re simply adding an experience to the week that already falls in rhythm with many families’ habits to attend Mass on Sunday mornings. The whole family can benefit.”
Parish staff hope for an even more vibrant parish community with the new format. Faith & Fellowship Sundays can be an opportunity for increased community and fellowship between the church and school, Adams said.
Moving the faith formation program to Sundays also frees up time during the week for families “to connect together and grow in other ways.” The program may make it more possible for parents to participate in a small-group experience. It may make it easier for youths to get more involved in youth ministry opportunities. It may give an opportunity for a family to have a meal together or start a new tradition or activity, he said.