As a religious education teacher and coordinator of our small rural parish, St. Andrew the Apostle in Warrens, Wisconsin, I discovered that my knowledge in the area of Scripture was somewhat weak. So I started looking for a Bible study course. The first few that I tried were way over my head. By chance, I borrowed a video of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline from our neighboring parish, St. Mary the Immaculate Conception in Tomah.
After I viewed the first two sessions, I realized that this awesome study was too great not to share with others. We purchased the Great Adventure Bible Timeline program and began our first study in 2005. We haven’t stopped studying since.
Our small classes at St. Andrew’s soon expanded to classes at St. Mary’s as well. Working with Wanda Thorson, St. Mary’s director of religious education, our faith formation programs have developed over time. We have promoted our studies through posters, church bulletins, church announcements, the diocesan newspaper, and from the pulpit. We have been most successful in attracting new participants when our priests have promoted the studies or preached from the study materials.
Our study programs have been purchased through funding from the Diocese of LaCrosse Bishop’s Education Endowment Fund and from our Parish Council of Catholic Women. The cost of our programs for participants is the price of the study kit, with volunteers providing light refreshments.
Now in our tenth year, our parishes have presented more than twenty-five different adult and youth studies multiple times. The number of participants in our studies has ranged from six to sixty people, with sessions conducted in the afternoon, evening, or following daily Mass, depending on the study.
Monsignor Richard Gilles, pastor of both St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s, commented on how positively people have responded to the programs offered and how their faith lives have been strengthened. He really appreciates the content of the Great Adventure Bible study materials, even using it in his homilies.
With feedback from post-study participant questionnaires, we see the great impact that these Ascension Press programs have in the lives of our participants. The Bible Timeline helped us come to know and love our heavenly Father better; Matthew helped us to fall deeper in love with Jesus our Savior; Acts presented us with the guidance and love of the Holy Spirit present with us and the Church; and Revelation helped us deepen our appreciation for the spiritual realities of heaven and hell, so heaven has become our real goal in life.
These four foundational Great Adventure studies taught many of us what we had missed from poor catechesis as children. Many participants have told us they have grown in their faith, deepened their sacramental and prayer lives, and increased their desire to know, love, and serve the Lord as a result of attending a Great Adventure study.
The spirit and energy of the combined efforts of the people of St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s has greatly increased over the years. Adult Faith Formation classes have increased our desire to know, love and serve the Lord. With the support of Msgr. Gilles, pastor, the studies have resulted in a greater understanding of the Mass and therefore a faithful and renewed discipleship with Jesus.
The Biblical Walk Through the Mass motivated many parishioners to continue to participate in other Adult Faith Formation programs. Now in our tenth year, our parishes have successfully presented over twenty-five different adult and youth studies.
Ascension Press has been a vital key to much of this success. Their high-quality faith formation materials have built a sense of trust and assurance in their company—trust in their faithfulness to Church teaching and assurance of their dependable customer service. We are grateful in their hard work in producing resources that help us do tremendous work for the Lord.