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Brampton parish opens conversation on Church for Year of Faith

BRAMPTON, ONT.  - St. Anne’s Church in Brampton is offering parishioners the chance to re-examine their catechetical teachings during the Year of Faith through a series of guest speakers who’ll engage them in deep philosophical conversation.

“It is difficult to have adult catechism so I thought that this year is a great opportunity to bring that sense of adult catechetical formation here,” said pastor Fr. James Cherickal. “What people hear from the Toronto Star or the CBC or Cable Pulse 24, many of our Catholics think that whatever they say is the truth. So we need to let people know exactly what the Church’s concerns are for these kinds of issues.”

Over the next year the parish will host speakers on the second and third Wednesday of the month to address a variety of topics, including evangelical questions, treasures of the Catholic Church and the Church in media. Following the talks parishioners will have a chance to chime in with their own specific questions for the experts.

Among the notables slotted to speak are Fr. Tom Lynch, national director of Priests for Life, journalist and Register columnist Michael Coren and Salt + Light TV CEO Fr. Tom Rosica. Cardinal Thomas Collins will celebrate the closing Mass next November.

“They are all very comfortable in taking questions because these are their fields of expertise and these are the things that they usually deal with,” said Cherickal. “These are the people who have both intellect and the calling of the theme which they try to live in their life.”

In addition to the speakers the parish will also be offering eucharistic adoration services from 7 p.m. to midnight, with confessions starting at 10 p.m., on the first Friday of each month. Months will close off with another learning opportunity, Apostolic Letters and Teaching of the Church, on the final Friday run primarily by Fr. Ephram Nariculam.

With so much happening it should be no surprise there were challenges in organizing everything.

“Because St. Anne’s is a very, very active and vibrant parish, it was very difficult to find the time. There (needed to be some) consistency in order for the people to remember the programs are going on,” said Cherickal. “By the grace of God everything worked together.”

The Year of Faith Committee was instrumental in organizing the events, said Cherickal. Organized shortly after Cherickal came to the parish in July, the committee first met in late September to brainstorm ideas on how to best celebrate the Year of Faith.

“Fr. James wanted to do something to kind of allow the adults in the parish to have opportunities to hear talks and opportunities to deepen their faith,” said committee member Dwight Stead. “Very quickly the slate of speakers emerged.”

As an academic consultant for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Stead sees the average parishioner’s limited understanding of the Church’s teachings on a regular basis. It is this reason that, when asked by Cherickal to join the committee, Stead immediately said yes.

“A lot of times adults go through the sacraments and then they kind of fall into a period of time when their faith isn’t really deepened,” he said. “They have a lot of catechism when they are a student but when you’re a student you can’t really grasp a lot of the deep philosophical messages that adults need to know about.”
While the intended audience is adults, both Stead and Cherickal encourage youth to attend — in fact they’ve planned a speaker for each day of Catholic Education Week who’ll address issues relevant to teens.

On Nov. 14 when the series kicked off with Fr. Joseph Singh, there was at least one teenager among the 100 or so who attended and now she plans to attend as many talks as possible.

“I thought it was going to be boring. I just thought the priest was going to be reading off a piece of paper,” said 17-year-old Yesennia Guzman, who’s mother insisted she attend.

“I feel that after that session that it is necessary for myself to go every week to learn something more about the faith. I learned how ignorant I was.”

For Guzman the information that she received that Wednesday night has helped her to deepen her faith and allows her to live the Eucharist fuller — the goal Cherickal had in mind when dreaming up the idea in the first place.

“The goal is to bring them more closer to Christ and the Church.”