Faith Formation Experiences


In this article, we will explore the experiences and insights of Biagio Mazza, an adult faith formation and religious educator with nearly 50 years of experience. Mazza has dedicated his career to leading adult formation and fostering a deeper understanding of faith within the Catholic Church. Throughout his journey, Mazza has encountered various perspectives and challenges, and he shares his reflections on the meaning and significance of adult faith formation. This article will delve into Mazza’s key learnings and shed light on the importance of adult faith formation within the church.

Adult Faith Formation: A Crucial Component of the Church

Adult faith formation is an essential aspect of what it means to be a part of the church. Mazza emphasizes that the institutional church must commit itself to promoting and providing the best adult faith formation possible at both the diocesan and parish levels. While Catholic and parish schools play a crucial role in educating and forming children, Mazza argues that more resources should be allocated to the education and faith formation of adults. By prioritizing adult faith formation, the community can foster individuals who have integrated their faith into their lived experiences and serve as models of Christian living.

Linking Faith to Lived Experience

Mazza highlights that adults have a deep desire to connect their faith with the reality of their everyday lives. They seek to appropriate their faith in a way that is consistent with their experiences. Mazza identifies a significant hunger among faith-filled adults for proper education and formation based on the teachings of Vatican II and its vision of the church and discipleship. When exposed to the fullness of the Christian faith and tradition through the lenses of Vatican II, adults can appreciate and internalize their faith on a more personal level. They learn to reflect on the values presented to them, articulate how those values align with their lived experiences, and freely choose to embrace what resonates with them in their faith journey.

Treating Adults as Adults

One crucial aspect of adult faith formation is treating adults as adults. Mazza asserts that adults desire to know the fullness of the truth, both the positive and negative aspects of church history, theology, biblical interpretation, and moral decision-making. They are no longer content with a one-sided or triumphalist telling of the story but instead prefer a nuanced and honest approach that acknowledges both the goodness and shortcomings of the tradition. Frequently, Mazza encounters adults expressing their surprise at not having been informed of certain aspects before. This desire for transparency and comprehensive understanding drives the need for a more inclusive and open approach to adult faith formation.

Affirming the Adult Relationship with God

Adults need affirmation in their adult relationship with God through Jesus. Mazza emphasizes the importance of conveying the following messages to adults:

  1. God’s love extends to individuals in the midst of life’s messiness.
  2. Adults possess the freedom to choose how their relationship with God unfolds in their lives.
  3. Each person has a brain that should be used in conjunction with their conscience, the inner sanctuary between themselves and God.
  4. The call to accompany one another on faith journeys, offering support and guidance in recognizing God’s presence in life’s complexities and challenges.

Faith Formation: More Than Catechesis

While catechesis focuses on teaching and explaining the church’s doctrines and beliefs, faith formation encompasses a broader scope. Mazza asserts that faith formation should expose adults to the richness and diversity of both traditional and contemporary developments in fields such as theology, Scripture, liturgy, and morality. By offering a comprehensive understanding of these subjects, adults can use the knowledge gained as a guide for forming their conscience and making choices aligned with their beliefs. Faith formation goes beyond mere instruction; it fosters a deep and holistic engagement with one’s faith.

Baptismal Call and Responsibility

Mazza highlights the significance of Vatican II in linking the call and responsibility of ministry to one’s baptismal commitment. This shift expanded the understanding of ministry beyond the exclusive domain of the ordained and recognized that all baptized individuals are called to model Christ and utilize their unique gifts in service to God’s people. This redefinition emphasizes the importance of each individual’s contribution to the church’s mission, regardless of their official roles or titles.

The Art of Synodality in Faith Formation

Faith formation, especially with adults, involves training in the art of synodality. Mazza explains that synodality recognizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lived experiences of all believers. It encourages personal encounters and active listening to one another, creating an environment where the Spirit can speak through each person’s unique experiences. Faith formation provides a platform for adults to engage in meaningful and faith-filled discussions, respecting the wisdom and dignity of all participants.


Biagio Mazza’s extensive experience as an adult faith formation and religious educator has provided valuable insights into the significance and impact of adult faith formation. Mazza highlights the essential role of adult faith formation within the church, emphasizing the need for resources and support at both the diocesan and parish levels. By linking faith to lived experiences, treating adults as adults, and affirming their relationship with God, faith formation can empower individuals to embrace and live out their faith more fully. Furthermore, faith formation extends beyond catechesis, incorporating a comprehensive understanding of theology, Scripture, liturgy, and morality. Ultimately, faith formation encourages an inclusive and synodal approach, recognizing the importance of every individual’s journey and fostering a deep connection with God and one another.