Streaming service brings faith to life

By  Nicholas Elbers, Canadian Catholic News
  • September 16, 2023

VANCOUVER -- Binge-watching is taking on new meaning at parishes across the Archdiocese of Vancouver as the FORMED Catholic streaming service transforms the way ministries access content for catechesis and sacramental preparation.

“Streaming means no more rentals or DVDS,” said Star of the Sea Evangelization and Catechesis coordinator Janice Hamanishi.

FORMED is a Catholic streaming service run by the Augustine Institute. More than just a Catholic Netflix offering popular programs such as The Chosen, FORMED has daily prayer and faith reflections, as well as Augustine Institute intellectual connect.

The service is being praised by parish religious education coordinators for offering easy access to high-quality content available to all parish ministries.

Deacon Kenan MacKenzie has been using FORMED to access updated resources for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at St. Mary’s in Gibson’s, B.C. The parish had been using old DVDs of the popular Augustine Institute program Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained, and the deacon was happy to discover that FORMED had an updated version. 

“One parishioner from RCIA said she binge-watched all the different things that were offered on FORMED and couldn’t believe how it brought the faith to life,” said MacKenzie.

While some parishes like St. Luke’s in Maple Ridge have been using FORMED for years, the archdiocese started promoting the service in summer 2022, offering parishes a reduced price. The archdiocese also offers support for local ministries to use the resources as best as possible.

For MacKenzie, FORMED has increased the number of options he has when introducing topics in RCIA. Because the platform has so much variety, he can schedule new topics to keep people from getting overwhelmed. 

“The resources offer many different avenues to begin conversations about faith that lead to deeper conversations,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing that I have seen with people (who have started using FORMED resources in their prayer life) is that they are bringing Christ into their hearts instead of leaving Him on the Cross for Sunday.”

Hamanishi said FORMED is helpful because it attends to a hunger to know more.

“We have a lot of older folks who have been practising for decades who are starting to realize there is more to their faith.”

In Vancouver, St. Patrick’s religious education coordinator Conchita Bambilla said the FORMED platform has increased her capacity to run educational programs, and the quality of the programming has made her job simpler.

Having access to a wide variety of resources has given her space to run programs and show videos that might not have been an option for her before. In some cases, she has been surprised to find an audience for topics that she didn’t expect much response to.

Recently she offered parishioners the opportunity to view Eternal Rest: The Art of Dying Well, a video series on end-of-life experiences. She was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout.

“The series provided me with a fruitful result, not only by number, but I can see the change in some people who have become more involved in the parish,” she said.

Archdiocesan Coordinator of Lay Formation Jane Waldock said the best feedback she has received is about FORMED’s ability to reach people who may not be interested in signing up for official ministry events or programs. PREP coordinators, for example, have been able to provide classes using FORMED even when a teacher can’t attend.

Coordinators say FORMED is giving parishioners a greater appreciation for the Church’s teachings, something long needed.

“We have to get across to people that Jesus resides within us, but the only way we can get into that relationship is through deeper understanding,” said MacKenzie.

“I have several people who have been using FORMED as part of their prayer life. People have told me that they didn’t understand what their faith represented. It’s getting people more engaged with their faith.”

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.