I just ran across this emailed testimony from last spring about the value of having a Core Team in a parish Family Formation program. Not only is it a great reminder for DREs and program directors, but it’s an inspirational true story for everyone who longs to see their parish grow in holiness.
When I first was asked to be a part of our Core Team, I wasn’t sure exactly what was in store. I was under the impression that it was just a few people gathering to pray for our Family Faith Formation program. And if that were all our little group did, it would be a worthy cause. But our group really blossomed into much more.
The Family Formation program is wonderful as-is, but it does need to be tailored to each individual parish. Making it run smoothly for a parish is a challenge for a single director who can’t possibly know what’s happening in each classroom or individual home. Core provides a safe environment for a few teachers, parents, and the director to discuss what’s working and develop solutions for any bumps that occur. We’ve been able to stop small problems before they turn into big problems because of our different perspectives.
Another task of the group is developing extra activities to help promote community among our families. Last year we organized a Corpus Christi Procession for the first time at our parish. We’ve held fun events like Saints’N'Smores and Soup’N'Snowmen. The most unexpected fruit of Core Group so far, though, has been Eucharistic Adoration.
It was a regular Core Team morning. We had coffee and breakfast, (some of our members with cooking talents are generous!), and we were talking about Corpus Christi. Our priest had not ever attended a Core Group meeting, so we were surprised when he popped in to the hall and accepted our invitation to see how a meeting goes and have a cup of coffee. As we discussed Corpus Christi, one of our teachers quite suddenly blurted out. “Father, why can’t we have adoration here?” And the rest is so fuzzy in my mind that I won’t attempt to write it down. We were discussing location, times, dates, as the impossible became possible!
Now, my husband and I had been wanting adoration at our parish for years, but as a small parish without much desire for adoration we couldn’t ever figure out how it would work. Right before my eyes, all those details were being ironed out. I had just finished reading St. Therese’s biography, and I don’t remember asking specifically for her intercession in regards to adoration. But as the Core Team discussed implementing adoration at our parish with Father, a woman brought a beautiful bouquet of white roses into the room we were in. She set them down, then left. Knowing that St. Therese often sends roses as a sign of her favors, I started to tear up. I knew this was a sign. Adoration was meant to be at our parish, and Core Team was the vehicle to get it here. There was no reason for Father to drop by. There was no reason for the woman to set her flowers down in our room before returning to pick them up. There is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit inspired the happenings that day at our meeting. And now on Tuesdays, our parish offers Eucharistic Adoration!
Because the individuals on our Core Team love the Church and have seen the benefits of Family Formation, it has become a close-knit group. I would have never gotten to know the individual members as I do now without Core Group. We’ve done Lectio Divina together, meditating on the daily readings. We’ve prayed a litany, mentioning each of our families by name. For me, it’s like a mini-retreat once a month because it offers another prayer experience, not just alone or with my family, or with a big group at mass, but with an intimate group of believers. In this way it’s blessed me deeply.
Is it necessary to have a Core Group? Probably not. Family Formation could probably function without the guidance, prayer, and feedback provided by Core Group. But most parishes didn’t choose Family Formation just to get by. Chances are that parishes chose Family Formation to help families grow in faith, to inspire vocations, and to all around develop a love for Jesus and his bride the Church. If that is truly the goal of a parish, then Core Team can’t be overlooked. I’m amazed at what God has done with our little bit of time each month.