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The diocesan Office of Faith Formation offers a practical apologetics series

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Have you ever been faced with questions about your faith that you aren’t sure how to answer? What would you say to someone who has misconceptions about the Catholic faith’s relation to science?

A new program by the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, “Practical Apologetics,” offers everyone in the diocese the opportunity to learn practical ways to answer such questions.

The series began at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg Jan. 22. Attendees listened to brief presentations by Soren Johnson, director of evangelization of the Office of Faith Formation; John Knutsen, coordinator of adult faith formation; and James Starke, director of the Office of Divine Worship.

Starke presented the topic, “Because science is truth, isn’t faith a myth?” He approached his presentation through the theory of evolution and said evangelists have to defend the reasonableness of faith and science.

Knutsen offered, “Isn’t all truth relative?” for his presentation, including moral relativism. “Evangelism is difficult because society is irrational,” he said. “The hesitancy to make a judgment is fatal to rational discourse.”

Johnson presented on the topic, “If there is a God, why would he allow evil and suffering?” He encouraged attendees to know the context in which the questions of faith are being asked, and to think how they can bring their own painful experiences to the table in conversations of faith.

Each of the presentations were followed by a Q&A period, with opportunities for questions after all three presentations.

Many in the audience were catechists from St. Mary, while others attended because they were interested in learning.

Dee Smith teaches religious education to first-graders at St. Mary Church. “These sessions for me fill my faith so that I can go to the classroom and share it,” she said. “The more knowledge I can get, the better I can explain it to my class.”

Halley Martin, a parishioner of St. Jude Church in Fredericksburg, said she liked the premise of the talks. “I want to be a part of the new evangelization,” she said. “I am a convert and I found the truth and want other people to find the truth.”

Jack O’Brien teaches religious education to St. Mary eighth-graders and said he plans on teaching at least one class on the topics covered at the meeting. “It’s both rewarding and frustrating at the same time,” he said. “These kids are in a public setting and they are getting bombarded with YouTube and friends and worldliness — or relativism — it’s hard to combat, and I need all the help I can get.”  

Johnson knows they can’t go into depth on any of the topics within the two-hour window. “We hope to equip Catholics, boost their confidence in addressing these issues, and help them see these are three of the top concerns that Generation Z and millennials are citing,” he said. “It may not be responding to these tough questions but seeing these needs and proactively and creatively finding ways to address that need.”

Find out more

The next sessions are: Feb. 7 4-6 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 130 Keating Dr., Winchester; Feb. 12 St. James, Falls Church, 103 N. Spring Street, Falls Church, 7-9 p.m.; and Feb. 26 All Saints Church, 9300 Stonewall Rd., Manassas, 7-9 p.m.

Contact Soren Johnson, director of evangelization, at s.johnson@arlingtondiocese.org or call 703/841-2533.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019