“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.” — Acts 2:46-47a
COVID-19 has everyone looking for creative ways to connect. A new faith formation resource developed by the diocese’s Catholic Education Ministries team is available for friends and families to use at home. This tool is designed around sharing a meal together while engaging in thoughtful conversations about faith.
The idea was the brainchild of Kristi Bivens, associate director of lay leadership formation for the Diocese of St. Cloud, and was developed in tandem with the staff of Catholic Education Ministries.
“When COVID hit, there wasn’t time to prep for the ‘possibility’ of a shutdown. Everything just shut provide support to our parish faith formation leaders. So we scrambled to put together something that parishes could point their parishioners toward using at home,” Bivens said.
Originally, it was titled “Family Together,” and intended to help families with children share and learn about the Sunday Gospel when they were unable to go to Mass. Realizing this tool could be used beyond families with children and could be shared over internet platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet, it evolved into “Becoming Eucharist,” to be more inclusive of all groups of people who might be interested in using the resource as well as something simpler for families as children returned to school and faith formation in the fall.
“This tool is really meant for everyone, not just families,” Bivens said. “It can be used over Zoom with friends who are far away, it can be used with roommates, it could be used with parish staffs or small study groups. It could be used with couples. It really is intended for anyone and everyone. There are all kinds of ways it can be used.
“We reflected a lot as a staff on what it means to be the ‘domestic Church,’ especially when the churches weren’t able to have activities or in some cases, Mass,” she added. “How do we help build up the domestic Church in homes? And this is what we came up with.”
Participants begin by printing out a table tent and placing it on the table, or pulling it up on a cellphone, iPad or computer. A Bible also is a necessary element in hard copy or online form. The lesson begins with a meal prayer, followed by sharing the meal together and a couple of opening questions.
Tim Welch, media consultant for the diocese, assisted with the technology components.
“As technology becomes a vehicle by which a story is being told, I find myself asking, ‘How can we best tell our stories all the time, everywhere, to define our culture?’ A lot of stories are being told,” he said. “Where is a place where we can make faith sharing as natural as going to YouTube or a video? We hope that this tool might create that space at home.”
Once the meal is completed, participants are invited to read or act out the Sunday Gospel story and reflect on the companion questions. After that, the participants discuss and decide on an action step to live out the Gospel message during the week. The activity concludes with prayer.
“We really want to encourage people to bring their faith life to other places than at Mass on Sundays and religious education classes on Wednesdays,” Bivens said. “We want to make it a natural part of our daily conversations and interactions.
“My goal for ‘Becoming Eucharist’ is that it is a tool for people to do that in a comfortable setting. Whenever we talk about faith, we are always learning something, but ‘Becoming Eucharist’ goes deeper. My hope is that it will help people become comfortable sharing what we think and feel about our faith lives, the things that challenge us and the things that comfort us.”
“Becoming Eucharist” is not a replacement for parish faith formation or Sunday Mass; it is meant to complement what is already happening in parishes
“This is not a catechetical tool but more of a faith formation tool,” Welch said. “My dream would be that this is a discussion starter for parishes to start their own online faith formation components, which, in fact, some are already doing. It’s really meant to be a hub around using technology more intentionally for sharing faith.”
Welch saw the benefits of collaborating with parishes by using the “Becoming Eucharist” model to create an online vacation Bible school program this summer.
“That was a great experience for me to work with people who had a background in youth catechesis and to partner with them to create something parishes and families could use at home,” he said.
Both the “Becoming Eucharist” series and the vacation Bible school series can be found online at https://familytogether.stcdio.org.
“At Mass, we gather together, we are nourished by the Eucharist and then we are sent out into the world to bring the Gospel message,” Bivens said. “With ‘Becoming Eucharist,’ we gather around the table, breaking bread together, praying together, reflecting on Scripture together and then creating an action step together to take our faith into the world. I hope that people will find this tool a great addition in their homes to make faith a part of their everyday conversations.
FREE three-part WEBINAR SERIES on the Eucharist
The Diocese of St. Cloud is offering a three-part Zoom webinar series in October, November and December focused on our 2020-21 diocesan theme: “One Body: Gathered. Nourished. Sent.” Each month’s webinar will focus on a different aspect of the Eucharistic theme.
• “Beloved Obligation: Participation in Sunday Mass”
with Father Paul Turner
The pandemic has caused a rethinking of Sunday Mass — why we participate and why we may not. Livestreaming has brought the faithful much spiritual consolation, but what is it missing? And why does it matter?
Note: This first webinar took place Oct. 14. A recording of the session is available on the Diocese of St. Cloud’s YouTube channel.
• Nov. 11, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
“As I Have Loved You”
with Amie Schumacher
The impact of our daily stress, coupled with prior woundedness, can have an effect on our mind, body, spirit … and discipleship. We will take a look at practical ways to help ourselves and each other in our journey along the way.
• Dec. 3, 1-2 p.m.
“Sent Forth to Love and Serve”
with Drs. Mary and Kurt Schwieters, Peggy Imholte and Bishop Donald Kettler
The third and final installment in the webinar series will feature stories of being sent forth in faith to love and serve. Drs. Mary and Kurt Schwieters, both of whom are family medicine specialists with CentraCare, will recount their experiences of serving both locally and abroad. Peggy Imholte will share her narrative of her service with Quiet Oaks Hospice House in St. Augusta. The hour-long session will include opening and closing remarks from Bishop Donald Kettler as well as a time for Q&A.