Forming Disciples: Faith Formation

Forming Disciples within a Family of Parishes entails providing instruction for a wide variety of groups. This Pillar Group needs to have qualified representation for each of the demographics listed below:

1. Faith Formation (K-12) For further details, regarding the Faith Formation programs, please reference the resources section of this app

A. Identify which Faith Formation programs the FOP currently has in place. (include with the review of current program if the DRE is interested in looking into another Faith Formation option)

    1. Family Faith Formation Program (K-6th Gr)
    2. Junior high School program (7th– 8th Gr)
    3. High school program (9th -12th Gr)
    4. Sacramental Preparation Programs
      a. First Reconciliation (2nd Gr)
      b. First Communion (3rd Gr)
      c. Confirmation (9th-10th Gr)     
    5. Family Inclusive Catechesis Program (K-12th Grades)
    6. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (3-6 years old)

B. Assess and evaluate the Faith formation modules to ensure that Faith Formation is provided for all families in the FOP

      1. Hybrid
      2. At Home
      3. In Community
      4. Online
      5. Inclusive Catechesis
      6. Junior high school
      7. High school

C. Quantify the number of students in Faith Formation program

      1. How many Faith Formation students are enrolled in each parish? (Highly recommended to evaluate the last 5 years of enrollment trends)
      2. How many children are registered in each grade level?
      3. Does parish have space to accommodate large gatherings?
      4. Consider combining grade levels depending on space and availability of classrooms, so that families can meet in community:

a. Pre K- K
b. 1st-2nd 
c. 3rd-4th 
d. 5th-6th 
e. 7th-8th (Junior high)
f. 9th -12th (High school)

D. Determine the days and times of each Faith formation program within the FOP (Both current and how to optimize for future)

      1. Consider Mass times
      2. Consider schedules of families/ students in your programs when determining days and times of your Faith Formation programs
      3. Consider combining calendars from each school district to determine the FOP Faith formation schedule and liturgical events

E. Identify the resources used in Catholic school and Faith Formation (K-8th Gr)

      1. DRE’s ensure that the Catechists are made aware of and are adhering to the new Forming Disciples standards (2022), available on the DOB website 
      2. Principals ensure that Catholic school Religion teachers are made aware of and are adhering to the new Forming Disciples standards (2022), available on the DOB website. Password: to be obtained by DRE/ Principal/ Pastor
      3. Identify the shared resource that can be used in both Catholic school and FF programs
      4. When determining the Faith Formation resource, consider the supported modules (on the DOB website): 
          a. Hybrid
          b. At Home
          c. In Community
          d. Online
          e. Junior high school
          f. High school
      5. When determining the resource to use in the Catholic school, consider the supported modules:
          a. Classroom
          b. Online
          c. Small group
      6. Identify the resource that can assist catechists and Religion teachers with tracking students’ progress 
          a. Assessments – comprehension 
          b. Online homework- missed lessons
      7. Identify additional resources that can be supplemented in cases where the selected resource is deficient in meeting the required standards in each of the grade levels. For Catholic schools, the needs may also include support for those teachers who are not Catholic

a. Saint books 
b. Children’s Bible (Ascension Press)

i.      1-3 yr olds

ii.     4-8 yr olds

iii.    9-12 yr olds

iv.    St. Mary’s Press

c. Glossary of Terms- manual (K-8th Gr) 
d. Family Prayer books (K-8th Gr)

F. Identify ways to consolidate Administrative tasks

1. Consider sharing Google document to share forms

a. Registration forms and paperwork
b. FOP Faith Formation records
c. FOP shared family data base (I.e., PDS)
d. Parent Permission slips and medical forms 
e. Photo Release forms
f. Attendance forms/ records
g. Missed homework records
h. Permanent Records 
i. Sacrament record forms
j. Church of Baptism forms
k. Baptism Certificates
l. Sponsor in Good Standing certificates
m. Catholic school student sacrament records

G. Assess Faith Formation FEES ( K-12) 

1. Resources/book expenditures for the year

2.  Consider Active vs. Inactive Faith Formation rates                                                                       

a.   Active Parishioner 

i.  Attends Mass/Involved in parish life

b.   Inactive Parishioner 

i.   Not attending Mass/Not involved in parish life

3.   Volunteer stipends/Faith Formation staff salaries

4.   Food

5.   Paper supplies

6.   Classroom supplies

7.   Guest speaker fees

8.   Crafts, activities, ice breaker/game expenditures

9.   Online resources (Formed)

10.  Goodwill supplies to families in support of the Formation program 

11.  Bibles

H. Determine Sacrament prep FEES

      1. Consider if this fee will this be separate from or included in the  registration fee?
      2. Consider the following expenses when determining fees:
        • Food
        • Crafts / activities
        • Books /resources 
        • Guest speaker fees
        • Supplies
        • Certificates, pins, gifts, goodwill items and other supplies for the Sacrament day

I. Determine Sacrament Retreat FEES 

      1. Consider if this fee will be separate from or included in the registration fee?
      2. Consider the following expenses when determining fees:

a.    Retreat venue 
b.    Food
c.    Paper/classroom supplies
d.   Crafts, activities, ice breaker/game expenditures
e.   Guest speaker/retreat facilitator fee

J. Consider FOP calendar meeting as a FOP in early Spring with DRE’s, principals, pastors, and ministry leads to determine which activities and liturgical events each parish will feature for the year

      1. Consider how activities can be synergized into one FOP calendar 
        a.   Mass times
        b.   Confession times
        c.   School events and activities  
        d.   Ministry calendars of events 
        e.   Faith Formation programs and activities
        f.    Parish liturgical feasts, solemnities, Advent / Lent 

K.Safe Environment 

      1.  Consider identifying 1 -2 Safe Environment Coordinators (SEC) for the FOP
      2.  Empowering God’s Children (EGC)

a. Consider combining lessons at specific parish sites
b. Consider combining grade levels together for lesson 
c. Consider combining lessons online

i.  K-2nd  
ii.  3-5th
iii.  6-8th
iv. 9-12th

                         d. SEC records EGC report for each parish site 

3. Safe Environment Adult Training 

a. SEC records EGC report for each parish site
b. DRE/ Principal / SEC ensure that all new volunteers:

i.    Sign up for a Virtus account
ii.   Register /complete Adult Training class
iii.  Read and answer monthly bulletins
iv.  Maintain their own account
v.   Maintain Virtus compliance 

L. Youth Ministry (6th-8th Gr / 9th-12th Gr)

1. Determine Youth Ministry options within the FOP 

2. The Youth Ministry program fosters spiritual/personal growth

      1. Empowers young people to live by truth and faith
        • Fosters relationship with Jesus Christ and neighbor
        • Draws young people to participate in the life of Christ
        • Cultivates fellowship among parish community
        • Invites participation in the life of the parish 
        • Promotes growth in the virtues
        • Encourages prayer, Adoration and service

M. Young Adult Ministry (18-25/ 26-39) + Campus Ministry

      1. Explore ways that FOP reaches out to Young Adults
      2. Study the document by Pope Francis Christus Vivit
      3. Consider these goals:

a. Deepen knowledge of Scriptures to support formation / education
b. Connect young adults to the mission of the Church
c. Connect young adults with a peer community through      developing peer leadership
d. Encourage mentor groups 
e. Foster professional and spiritual development
f.  Develop a multifaceted Family program for encounter and accompaniment for young adults at all stages: college, single, married, married with children 

N. Adult Formation 

1. Discuss Adult Faith Formation opportunities that exist in the FOP       

2. Identify/Create formation opportunities through the use of DOB Learning portal 

3. Use the website/bulletin/ social media to encourage participation

4. Identify gathering spaces most conducive to adult learning         


  1. FOP assesses the number of baptized children in each grade level who have missed several years of catechesis, including the reception of First Reconciliation and First Communion
      1. Consider using Flocknote / PDS to identify students who need catechesis
      2. Consider pairing with active parishioners in your FOP
      3. Identify the grade levels who need catechesis
      4. Utilize a resource that can be used with varying grade levels

P. Catechist Formation / DRE Certification

      1. Identify ways that the FOP is currently training catechists
      2. Identify resources and develop a DRE training program


    1. Identify the OCIA team
    2. Provide each member with a Study Edition of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (this will need to be replaced when the updated Order of Christian Initiation of Adults is published)
    3. Choose publications and resources 
    4. Identify individuals who will participate in the OCIA
    5. Plan the OCIA schedule (perhaps with input from the catechumens)

Coach/Mentor Program for Pastors

Priests appointed to be pastor of a Family of Parishes in the Diocesan Road to Renewal Program will have the option of being assigned a coach/mentor to assist them in their duties. The coach/mentor will serve the pastor in a number of advisory and supportive roles.

The diocese enlisted the services of the Catholic Leadership Institute which has an established program for training coach/mentors which has showed positive results in dioceses across the country. Over this past summer, a number of the laity responded to an invitation to be trained in this role. The sessions covered a wide range of areas and afforded the participants a strong direction in becoming a successful coach/mentor.

The list of those who enrolled include a number of the faithful, many of whom are accomplished in their field. They come from a variety of backgrounds including: financial advising, interpersonal relations, law, academics, and many more. As Deacon Greg Moran, director of Organizational Development and Strategic Planning for the diocese stated, “The Buffalo Diocese is blessed with a number of the faithful who bring great talents and gifts to the renewal table. Many have come forward to use their gifts to assist pastors who sense a need for assistance.”

With their training complete, and armed with a “toolbox” of materials, the coach/mentor team is prepared and ready to begin. Once all pastor positions are filled, a survey will be sent out which will help identify pastors who are willing to take advantage of the program. It is hoped that this program will serve to be an effective resource for pastors as our diocese faces some challenging times ahead.

For more information about the program, please contact Deacon Gary P. Andelora at or 716-863-2870.

Original Story on WNYCatholic.

Glossary of Terms

Accountability: A person who accepts the ownership of the successful completion of a task(s) or the achievement of expected positive outcome(s). This person may delegate certain responsibilities to other parties, but still holds the accountability for the overall success of the project.

Accountability Meeting: Parish Administrators meet every other week to make sure the tasks of the 6 Pillar Groups are being carried out in the respective parishes.

Activation Phase: Parishes begin to work together developing a transition plan working to form parishes into a Family. Development of a Family Council (FC) and Family Action Plan are an important aspect of this phase. This phase lasts until Inauguration.

Business Manager: The Family of Parishes (FoP) Business Manager is a leadership role in support of the pastor’s responsibilities to Family. This position has the overall fiduciary responsibility for the management of the FoP business office. The FoP Business Manager, as the head of operations, works with the clergy, staff, and volunteers to see that the temporal gifts of the parishioners are prudently accounted for and used to carry out the mission of the Family.

Chaplain: A priest or deacon with a specialized ministry that provides ministerial leadership to a specific area of responsibility. (ie: Hospital, Catholic school)

Director of Discipleship: The Director of Discipleship within the Family of Parishes is a leadership role that has oversight responsibility and in some cases direct responsibility for Catholic Education and Faith Formation.

Director of Mission: The Family of Parishes (FoP) Director of Mission is a leadership role in support of the Church’s call to be missionary disciples. The person will establish and oversee all committees that will help to make a good parish into a vibrant community. This will incorporate the pillars of stewardship and OutReach/InReach.

Director of Worship and Music Ministry: The Director of Worship/Music Minister is a professional musician who holds specialized credentials in music and has a thorough understanding of Roman Catholic liturgy. This person of faith is responsible for the effective planning, coordination, and execution of worship within the liturgical celebrations of the parish. He or she is gifted with a vision of how a local Church can develop its potential to realize that the celebration of the Mass is the source and summit of all Catholic worship.

Disciple Maker Index: A tool used by Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) to assess parish strengths, challenges and areas of growth. This tool will help parishes develop their Family Action Plan.

Facilitator: A trained lay leader that assists at meetings within the Family during the Activation Phase.

Family Action Plan: A strategic plan for the Family that defines goals, strategies, expected outcomes and methodology for reaching a vibrant future with vitality and fiscal responsibility. The Family Action Plan will be strategic for short-term and long-term planning for the Family with clearly identified attainable outcomes.

Family Leadership Team: Family Leadership Teams assist and complement the pastor by adding their unique skillsets to help monitor current realities, create plans for betterment, and evaluate results. They act like executive committees—i.e., they are made up of individuals delegated to make decisions or execute specific responsibilities in the interests of the FoPs and can be made up of parish member trustees, lay leaders, lay ministers, priests, deacons but should not be dominated by clergy. It is recommended that the FLT meets at least once a month.

Inauguration Phase: The date in which a designated group of parishes begins functioning as a Family. This ends the activation phase for this particular Family of Parishes.

Initiation Phase: The phase when a Family of Parishes is informed of a specific activation start date. In the Initiation Phase, parishes begin the preliminary work to prepare for the Activation Phase.

Parochial Vicar: Priest assigned to assist the Pastor in a Family with specific areas of delegated accountabilities and assigned responsibilities within the Family.

Parochial Vicar with Specialized Ministry: Priest assigned to assist the Pastor in a Family with specific areas of delegated accountability that may be outside of the Family. Furthermore, this priest is also assigned to assist with scheduled liturgies within the Family.

Pastor: Leader of the Family of Parishes and Pastor of each Family member parish.

Pillars: There are 6 Church Pillars: Liturgy, Spiritual Life, Forming Disciples, OutReach / InReach, Stewardship & Administration. These are the 6 key areas of the Church that require constant planning, monitoring and evaluation within each Family of Parishes.

Pillar Group: A team of experts dedicated to working collaboratively to construct, monitor and evaluate the plan within each of the 6 Pillars that provide the foundation for the Family Action Plan.

Renewal Representatives: Those appointed by the Pastor/Administrator to represent the individual parishes in relaying information about the Renewal to the parish, and worked directly with Catholic Leadership Institute to be advocates for the Disciple Maker Index survey.

Responsibility: Person accepting control over something or someone, not always the person who holds the accountability for the completion of a task or certain positive outcome.

Transition Leader: Priests within the Pilot Program that have been identified to be the point person for communication with the Renewal office for their particular Family of Parishes. There is one transition leader per Family after Initiation.