I have a catless lap for the first time in a while, and so can take a moment to tell you about my recent experience using the PNCEA's Awakening Faith program. (Wait, are they not called the pncea anymore? Well, anyway, the Paulists. When it comes to evangelization, they're literally the book-writers.)
AF is an out-of-the-box program for Catholics who may have stepped away from the Church and are curious or feeling an inkling to step back in. Part of its greatness is that it's NOT the RCIA- not designed to firehose the participants with remedial dogma. The six sessions consist of short essays that you read with the participants, as-is, and then discuss. The essays are thought-provoking and applicable, and just a little bit challenging. But what's nice is that as a leader, I can claim no author-ship for what's written. I can say "so what do you think about what this person has to say?" without implying that it's right or wrong to agree or disagree, and without having to implicitly defend it. The writing is well done, though. The first night, as I prepared for the class, I thought "oh people are going to be so bored with reading this, there is so little here!" But as we started to read, my participants would say "oooh" or "hmm, that's true" as we read along. We had great, fruitful conversations after the readings, and I got to pull from my bag of teaching stories to complement the lessons. What fun to hang out with people who have never heard my stories!
I had two women participate, and they are very different from each other, but the three of us bonded over the 6 weeks in a really nice way. We had goose-bumpy moments, teary bits, and lots of laughter. I think both of them came away feeling encouraged in their journey back toward the Church, in their own ways. I think I'll offer it again next Lent, with a PR push on Ash Wednesday. I'm looking forward to doing it again!