Goodbye, Year of the Family. Hello, Year of the Sacraments.
The Archdiocese of Chicago kicked off their latest yearly initiative, the Year of the Sacraments, about a week ago. The initiative will run July 2014 to July 2015 and will focus on educating all Catholics in the Chicago area about the purpose and meaning of all seven sacraments. Last year's initiative, the Year of the Family, concluded with a bang. The final event was the Archdiocese's promotion of Catholic Family Day at Six Flags Great America, which I covered in a recent column.
So what type of events we will see happen over the next year as the Archdiocese works to promote the Year of the Sacraments? According to the Archdiocese's website, the focus will be on the following:
Dedicating homilies to educating parishioners on the meaning and purpose of the sacraments.
Offering special retreats or programs of reflection on some or all of the sacraments at the parish, deanery or Archdiocesan level.
Providing catechetical instruction about the sacraments in bulletin inserts, e-mails, or other forms of communication.
Developing new aids for examination of conscience.
Reaching out in the community to Catholics who are rarely or infrequently at Mass by creatively and imaginatively using various forms of communication.
Embedding the concerns of social justice and vocational awareness in all efforts.
Of course, this list is by no means definitive, and other methods of promoting the sacraments may be incorporated in future months. Nor does the list mean that all of the above ideas will be implemented. It just provides a general framework for what pastors and parishes can expect in the coming months. One effort that has already gone into effect is that the Strategic Pastoral Plan Office will continue the popular “One Word at a Time” initiative. It will have some slight modifications, however. For the Year of the Sacraments, Fr. Louis Cameli will offer 52 weekly articles suitable for parish websites or bulletins, exploring the meaning of the sacraments one word at a time. The tentative monthly schedule will focus on the Eucharist in September, Anointing of the Sick in October, Baptism in January, Confession in February, Marriage in March, Confirmation in April, and the Eucharist again in early May. Many parishes schedule First Communion and Holy Orders for May and June, so they will be covered at that time.
Still, no matter how the year plays out, it should be an exciting and interesting time to see what the archdiocese and individual parishes implement for the year of the sacraments. I'll keep you posted!