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Reintroduce FORMED to Your Community at Lent!
St. Ann Church of Groesbeck in Cincinnati, Ohio first acquired their FORMED subscription in 2015. Although they saw an initial burst of activity, in the years since, St. Ann’s found that the parish and its members weren’t engaging with the faith-enriching resources on FORMED like they would hope.
St. Ann’s Father McCarthy recruited Cincinnati local and Augustine Institute’s Senior Orientation Specialist, Louise Karas, to facilitate a relaunch of FORMED in their parish. Louise outlined 5 simple steps she took to relaunch FORMED with an engaging parish-wide study:
1. Choose a weekend.
St. Ann’s Parish used the liturgical calendar to their advantage by selecting the first weekend of Lent to re-introduce FORMED. Because they aligned the start of their parish-wide study with the beginning of Lent, many parishioners were more inclined to invest in their faith over the coming weeks.
2. Select a series on FORMED for a parish-wide study.
For their relaunch at Lent, Father McCarthy chose to lead his community through A Lent to Remember, a beautiful study on God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Confession that uses Augustine Institute original series Forgiven and Symbolon. Parish-wide studies give new FORMED users a place to start exploring all the faith resources on FORMED, and also give your parish family a common place to begin faith-sharing conversations with one another. Many do not know where to begin learning about their faith, much less discussing their personal faith journey, but giving the entire community the opportunity to engage with the same faith materials and topics gives them a natural starting point.
3. Prepare FORMED Parish-Wide Study Promotional Materials.
Louise wanted the parishioners to have a physical reminder of FORMED and the parish-wide study when they left the parish. She was able to print FORMED business cards at a reasonable cost of $25 for 1,000. These cards included details on the parish-wide study and instructions on how to sign up for a free FORMED account using St. Ann’s newly-created Custom Registration URL.
4. Include a Personal Invitation from the Pulpit from Father and/or a Parishioner.
Father McCarthy included FORMED in his announcements and Louise spoke for 2-3 minutes at the end of each Mass, offering brief words about FORMED and the upcoming parish-wide study.
5. Conduct a “Reverse Collection” to give your parishioners an at-home reminder.
Ushers at St. Ann’s distributed baskets and parishioners were encouraged to take home one of the printed business cards explaining how to sign up for FORMED and how to find the selected study.
After the initial weekend, Father McCarthy and parish leaders continued the relaunch efforts throughout Lent by inviting the parish to an upcoming four weeks of Fish Fry events and Stations of the Cross, to be followed by a viewing of A Lent to Remember and a discussion.
After their relaunch, 48 parishioners joined FORMED during Lent. Engagement among these parishioners likewise saw impressive gains, with more persons actively utilizing FORMED resources each day. Father McCarthy said: “It is the priest’s job to lead people to Christ, to show them how much they are loved and get them to realize their duty to evangelize the Good News to others. I learned early on as a priest that very few know their faith, and those who do, don’t really know it. FORMED is amazing and has helped do that. With our recent successful relaunch, my parishioners continue to thank me for providing this service. I can’t wait to see all the new materials FORMED will be providing in the future.”
To learn more about conducting your own successful relaunch, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a conversation with Louise Karas today!
Using FORMED to Involve Parents in their Children’s Sacramental Prep!
Need: We wanted to share the resources for FORGIVEN with the Parents and children preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in an email with easy to access links and descriptions of the program and sessions.
Description: We generated an email utilizing the FORGIVEN resources on FORMED for our First Reconciliation parents. We embedded the links into the email as well as our own parish registration link if they did not have an account yet.
I embedded Sessions 1-3 and Parents and Children videos with the short description of the sessions. The parishioner simply needed to click on the links and watch the videos.
I also added information regarding the recent apps for Apple and Android users so parishioners could use it on their mobile devices. The email subject was: A Gift for You from St. Luke Parish: FORMED resources for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Result: We had a great response from parents to thank us for the ease of use and for being able to watch the sessions on their mobile devices. It was a click and play via email and they did not have too many steps to follow. The children also loved the short (12mins), but beautiful lesson to prepare them for the Sacrament of their First Reconciliation.
— Lourdes, St. Luke’s Parish
Welcoming New Subscribers with a Customized Email
Need: New subscribers in your parish often need a little guidance as they first dip into FORMED. The amount of content on FORMED can feel overwhelming, and often new subscribers are not sure where to start. This initial impression may stop that parishioner from coming into contact with the amazing materials on FORMED which can lead them closer to Jesus.
Description: Bonnie, a parish administrator from Pennsylvania has come up with a quick, effective solution to make sure her fellow parishioners can feel at home on FORMED. Bonnie uses the Dashboard feature to keep track of new accounts being created by people in her parish. When about ten new parishioners have created an account, she sends the group a personalized email to welcome them to FORMED. The email includes a link to our “Roman Roads” video which serves as an introduction to the FORMED platform, Bonnie’s own content recommendations based on what others in the parish are watching, and encouragement to be a “missionary of FORMED” and tell others how and why to sign up.
Result: This personal, localized touch encourages new subscribers to stick with the platform, provides them with suggestions for what to watch first, and helps to spread the message in your parish that FORMED is available! This personal welcome, especially when combined with parish custom content on the homepage, helps to implement FORMED in a way that exemplifies the needs and characteristics of your home. To help you employ this strategy in your own parish, we have created a quick email template. Remember, though, the effectiveness of this strategy comes from the personal touch, so be sure to customize this email and continue to update it as trends in your parish change!
– Bonnie, PA
Physician-Mothers Breaking the Barriers of Distance and Time with FORMED
Need: A group of mothers who also work as physicians felt the need for a way to grow in faith in the midst of their lives as “exhausted mothers of small children who couldn’t regularly attend parish ministries.”
Description: This group of Catholic physicians and mothers connected via a Facebook group and advertised the idea of using FORMED to hold a long-distance small-group study. “Each of us had the task of watching that week’s video before meeting, and then we would meet online on Sunday evenings. Though the turnout was small, we were so excited….There were a total of 6 of us this time, but these are physician mothers in 3 different time zones (Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Texas, and Florida) who met weekly online through Zoom!!!” Virtual small groups such as this one can use tools such as Zoom, Skype, and other video chatting applications to connect and discuss the material they can access through FORMED.
Result: As one mother said: “It was amazing! I truly believe this has the potential to become an amazing widespread evangelization tool! I am currently pitching it to our parish DRE to set up a virtual group for moms/women.” FORMED’s technological nature made it possible for these busy women from across the nation to connect over shared material and grow in the faith through community and learning. Here at FORMED, our tech team is working on an update to make it possible to host these virtual small groups right on the FORMED platform! Keep an eye out for this exciting new feature!
– Nora, FL
Using FORMED to Integrate Home-Bound into Parish Life
Need: Integrate FORMED into Parish Life, especially with home-bound parishioners or stay-at-home parents that have a limited ability to attend small groups that take place within the parish. This idea came from Donna W. of Prospect Heights, IL, who says “One of the committee members had a great idea… We would like to use the resources that formed.org offers to facilitate interaction with those members of our parish who are shut-ins or are unable to attend small groups at the parish facility and who have either a computer or tablet. We would like them to be able to join an ongoing group at the parish via their technology.”
Description: Parishioners who want to participate in the group study all receive an invite to join an online video meeting using a service like Google Hangouts or Skype. Before the meeting, parishioners watch this week’s video on their own time, then join the meeting for a time of community and discussion about the video topic.
Result: Home-bound parishioners experience a greater sense of integration into parish life and faith formation.
Lenten Book Study for Young Teens using Awakening
Need: Engage young readers in a community of faith and spiritually prepare them for the Triduum.
Description: “I wanted to take a moment to recommend the book in the children’s section called Awakening. It’s more of a young reader that a ‘children’s’ book. We did it as a book study here at my parish.”
Result: “I know for a fact that over 20 people purchased hard copies of the book from various places, as well as those who did the free download. The book is an easy and quick read and will set a great tone for your Triduum.”
– Cyndi M.
Investing in the Women in Our Lives
After completing True Beauty with her small discipleship group, Heather—a volunteer mentor from St. Paul, MN—organized a “Date Night” for the young women in her group and their mothers. “We spent so much time talking about our dignity and womanhood,” said Heather, “it only seemed right to invest in and strengthen our relationships with the first women in our lives—our moms.”
Ideas for Promoting FORMED
Need: Get parishioners onto and using FORMED
Description: “We found a few things worked well: 1. Going to meetings for various ministries (e.g. RCIA, 55+ Club, Catechists, etc) to promote formed and how they can use it. 2. Providing a weekly suggestion in the bulletin and 3. Sending a weekly email blast called Wake up with the Word, where we sent the Opening the Word video for the upcoming Sunday. Prayers for your continued success!!”
Result: “We are up to 364”
– Jessica Kirner-Walters
Best time to promote is Advent and Lent
Need: Increase membership
Description: “Best time to promote in my opinion is Advent and Lent. Integrating with your parish website is a great way to slowly steadily build membership. Parish ambo announcements are helpful by the Pastor.”
Result: “We had a large Advent campaign promoting heavily and went from 160 to 208 users with a lot of effort.”
– Peter Matthews
Fulfilled Need for Catechumenate and the Elect and Candidates Resources
Need: Resources for Catechumenate and the Elect and candidates during Purification and Enlightment
Description: “We use the Symbolon sessions during the Catechumenate, but shift to deeper reflection of the Gospels and what God is saying to the Elect and candidates during Purification and Enlightenment. Opening the Word will be a great resource during this time. Also have to say the Symbolon sessions are fantastic for RCIA! WE usually just watch Part 1 of the DVDs and then the team teaches the lesson.”
Result: “What is wonderful is that after our sessions, the candidates can review the entire sessions on their own through FORMED! It’s also great if they miss a session.”
-Diane Bogest Luceri
“Popcorn is on us!”
Need: Empower and inspire parishioners to use FORMED their homes.
Description: “I’m going to COSTCO and getting boxes of microwave popcorn, enough for one package for each family. Then we are going to print sticker labels (designed like movie tickets) telling the families how to register for FORMED and then give them directions to the movie section. They can have a Catholic family movie night – popcorn is on us!”
Result: This creative idea helps parishioners see the value of FORMED in their own families as a way to bring people together and to easily watch entertaining content. Our Facebook FORMED Parish Leaders community was also inspired by Russ’ idea!
– Russ Morgan