Cavadini: Formation and transformation

Catholic religious educators should remember that Catholic doctrine is for spiritual “formation,” not just “information.”

That was a message of John Cavadini’s keynote address at the 2009 Diocesan Summer Institute, delivered Friday morning at St. Vincent de Paul Church.

Titled “The Relationship Between the Teaching of Christian Doctrine and the Formation of Persons as Christians,” the keynote was a theological reflection from a man who serves as chairman of the University of Notre Dame’s department of theology.

Cavadini is also the founder of Notre Dame’s Center for Catechetical Initiative, which operates the ECHO program of catechist leadership training that has been active in the Diocese of Peoria for four years.

With the Jubilee Year of St. Paul drawing to a close this month, Cavadini opened his talk with a look at St. Paul’s conversion.

“How was Paul catechized? He gives a hint in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4,” said Cavadini.

In those verses, St. Paul indicates that faith in Christ’s saving death and resurrection was the heart and foundation of the faith he had received, and which he then handed on to the Corinthians.

“IN A WAY, the information that Paul received was the formation that Paul received,” Cavadini said.

“In other words, the information was formative. It wasn’t just something to talk about during lulls in first century conversation,” he quipped.

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