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Year of Faith offerings take variety of directions

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Efforts to share the Catholic faith's breadth and depth are leading down varied paths this Year of Faith - including talks on the catechism; a gathering for adults and children focusing on saints; and one pastor's yearlong retreat of prayer and fellowship, music and discussion.

These three programs recently took place at Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha; will happen at St. Bonaventure Parish in Raeville; and are taking place at St. Peter Parish in Omaha.

The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" was the subject of a five-night series at Mary Our Queen. Suggested by the pastor, Father Bob English, it was planned by the parish's adult education coordinator, Barb Eastridge, and assisted by the archdiocese's Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.

Pope Benedict XVI's call for a Year of Faith - Oct. 11 through Nov. 24, 2013 - stresses the importance of Vatican Council II and the catechism, subjects Father English said he wants to share with parishioners.

"I've been doing pastor reports on Vatican II in the weekly bulletin," Father English said. "I wanted to offer something on the catechism."

The sessions began with an overview and then touched on the catechism's four main sections - the Profession of Faith, Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Christian Prayer and Life in Christ. About 30 people attended each session, and the series wrapped up Dec. 11.

One parishioner, Tim Smith, said the sessions helped make the catechism more accessible.

"I wanted to take it off the shelf," Smith said of the book that details Catholic beliefs. "The catechism can help us develop our faith and better share it."

SEASONED WITH SAINTS

A retreat titled "Seasoned with Saints," Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at St. Bonaventure in Raeville and Petersburg Hall in nearby Petersburg, also is designed to help people during the Year of Faith.

It kicks off with an evening of movies about saints and saints-in-the-making - particularly those who have special connections to Nebraska - followed by talks the next day for adults and children about saints, as well crafts, games, snacks and other activities for youths.

Sarah Fanta, an organizer of the retreat and youth retreat director at the Niobrara Valley House of Renewal in Lynch, said she had been thinking about such a retreat for several years.

"That it's actually taking root in the Year of Faith, I look at that as God's timing," she said.

The gathering - $15 per person, $50 for a family - will include breakfast, lunch and a Mass, as well as three speakers:

• Father Dave Korth, director of the St. Augustine Indian Mission and senior associate pastor of St. Augustine Parish, both in Winnebago; and senior associate pastor of St. Cornelius Parish in Homer; St. Joseph Parish in Walthill; and Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Macy, will discuss his experience attending the October canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, and the 2000 canonization of St. Katharine Drexel, the mission's founder.

• Father Clifford Stevens, senior priest in residence at Boys Town, who will focus on the faith and vision of Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town whose cause for canonization the Archdiocese of Omaha took up early this year. Father Stevens graduated from the home for troubled youth in 1944, knew Father Flanagan and is writing a biography about the late priest.

• Teresa Monaghen, national moderator for the Institute of Apostolic Oblates and director of the Pro Sanctity Retreat Center in Omaha. Monaghen said she plans to address the importance of learning about saints and keeping them close. "We need nurturing, we need mentoring. We need sisters and brothers who will stand by us no matter what," she said of the saints.

To learn more about the retreat or to register, contact Fanta at 402-358-3680 or czech4food@gpcom.net, or visit the Archdiocese of Omaha website, www.archomaha.org, and search for "Seasoned with Saints."

FAITH IN 52

While "Seasoned with Saints" is an evening and day event, Father Damien Cook, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Omaha, has embarked with his parish on a yearlong retreat titled "Faith in 52" that is centered on finding God's love through prayer and fellowship.

"Too many people don't believe in a loving God," Father Cook said. "I want to gradually introduce people in this Year of Faith to the heart of the Gospel - a God of love."

Father Cook is writing a series of 52 weekly meditations based on a book by Father Jean C.J. d'Elbee titled "I Believe in Love," that can be read by individuals or small groups.

Once each month - the first Saturday for people who speak English, the second Saturday for those who speak Spanish - parishioners are invited to gather at 7 p.m. at St. Peter Church for an hour of adoration of the Eucharist, periods of silence, music and readings from Scripture and Father d'Elbee's book.

The parish holds a dessert and social hour afterward, and since the program began last month about 60 people have attended each "Hour of Power," Father Cook said.

People are encouraged to purchase the book, and Father Cook is offering the meditations to the general public, through the parish's website, www.stpeterchurch.net.

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