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How to start a parish apologetics group
On the weekend of 11-13 October 2002, Holy Name parish, Toowoomba, held a "Families of Faith" weekend, at which Raymond de Souza of St Gabriel Communications, Perth, WA, was keynote speaker. One of the sessions was entitled "What do Catholics really believe?" Over the weekend 54 people signed up for a course of apologetics, 18 of whom were young adults.
Saint Gabriel Apologetics Toowoomba commenced on 18 November 2002 with four groups, using the Sydney Lumen Verum Apologetics course by Robert Haddad, who spoke at the parish in November. He was very impressed with the enthusiasm of the young people.
Each group now meets weekly, with all four groups coming together every 12 weeks or so.
Saint Gabriel Apologetics Toowoomba has two objectives: to learn more about the Catholic Faith; and to gain confidence and skills in speaking about it.
Everyone in the group is delighted with the course. The older people wonder why it took them so long to do something like this, while the younger ones take great pleasure in being able to answer questions about the faith, feeling confident enough to dispel many of the myths held by their friends and peers at university.
Most group members are also involved in Eucharistic Adoration and or daily Mass and the Rosary.
Toowoomba's Saint Gabriel Apologetics recently held a "Special Holy Week Evening" at Holy Name Hall on 15 April 2003. This was the first combined meeting of the four groups (along with a social evening) for this year.
The program included four 15-minute talks with each group nominating its speaker. The topics covered were St Peter (for all his weaknesses) as the Rock on which Christ built His Church; the Eucharist and Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament; the liturgy: meal or sacrificial emphasis?; and "The Power of the Parable in Apologetics".
Between each talk we were entertained with varied presentations by some very talented people, all from within our groups, while to ensure everyone was involved we ended with a quiz, "20 Catholic Questions".
About 60 attended and all agreed it was a highly successful venture. Holy Name's parish priest, Father Thomas Keegan, said that in all his years of priesthood, he has never attended such a night, where lay people spoke so well of their understanding of the Catholic Faith.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 6 (July 2003), p. 12
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