Readers are more than familiar with the pressures that rest on the shoulders of a parish pastor. There are countless responsibilities — practical, financial, logistical. More important than any other responsibilities is the care of the souls in your charge.
It can be harder than ever today to catechize. The broader culture tries to present orthodox Catholic faith as not only stuffy and outdated but bigoted, ignorant and naive. As a result, sometimes the first battle is with a lack of willingness to be catechized.
Formed.org is a fantastic resource to help in the catechizing of Catholics. This service has been referred to as “Catholic Netflix,” and the name is unquestionably apt. While it certainly does not have the reach or selection (or questionable content, for that matter) of that streaming service, Formed.org has a vast array of resources for anyone interested in learning more about — or delving deeper into — the Catholic faith.
Formed.org has materials to help in essentially any faith formation or sacramental preparation program the parish may have. There are video series and other studies specifically designed to assist in adult faith formation programs, marriage enrichment and preparation, Bible study, RCIA, youth ministry, Marian devotion, small-group discipleship and others.
There are more than 300 episodes of various video-based study programs, such as Word on Fire’s popular and groundbreaking “Catholicism” series, Steve Ray’s “Footprints of God,” “Echo,” a series in which Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana, works through the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, and many more. There are more than 35 feature films on the lives of the saints, Church history and other topics of interest, and more than 45 audio presentations by some of the most popular and articulate Catholic speakers, such as Scott Hahn, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Bishop Robert E. Barron and many more. The resource has more than 25 e-books on various topics related to the Catholic faith.
Formed.org offers media in video and audio formats that cover practically any category one could ask for, whether that person is a priest, a deacon, a lay minister or just a curious Catholic wanting to learn more about their faith. There are conversion stories, Bible studies, apologetics courses and materials on the topics of marriage and family.
There are also a number of materials specifically geared toward young adults. It is no secret that young adults can be one of the most challenging groups to minister to, as far as keeping the Faith burning brightly and helping them want to be engaged in it. Formed.org features, among other programs, a series called “YDisciple,” which is oriented toward young adults. It contains sessions such as “True Beauty: Becoming the Woman You Were Created to Be,” “True Strength: Becoming the Man You Were Created to Be,” “Who is God?,” “Who am I?,” “Human Sexuality,” “Hot Topics” and “The Creed.”
Formed.org is a partnership between a number of the most popular Catholic media apostolates, which allows for a deep and wide collection of materials and resources. The partnership is between the Augustine Institute, Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press, Word on Fire, the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
There are limitations at Formed.org. There is little to nothing specifically geared toward young children preparing for their first reconciliation or first holy Communion. Additionally, the Spanish-language materials are significantly fewer than those in English. There is room for improvement here, to be sure, but the materials that are available in Spanish are of the same stellar quality as those available in English. Hopefully, as time goes on, the amount of materials available in Spanish — and other languages — will increase.
Even considering these shortcomings, Formed.org will prove to be an invaluable resource.
PAUL SENZ holds a Master of Arts in pastoral ministry from the University of Portland and lives in Oregon with his family.