PROVIDENCE — More than 60 adults gather on Saturday mornings in the parish hall of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul to deepen their understanding of the Catholic religion and to find answers to challenging questions that have arisen as they continue their journeys of faith.
For the past several weeks, Franciscan Father R. Stephen Almagno has conducted a cathechism for adults, based on the text “The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults,” written by Archbishop Donald Wuerl. Father Almagno, a distinguished author and retired professor who taught for 30 years at the University of Pittsburgh, contributed to the catechism.
“The aim and purpose of these sessions was best expressed, more than a century ago, by Cardinal John Henry Newman, who said: ‘I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well instructed laity,’” Father Almagno emphasized.
Father Almagno said the impetus for the ongoing course, which will end once every chapter in the 592 page book has been discussed, was Msgr. Anthony Mancini, rector of the Cathedral, in response to the diocesan Year of Evangelization. Participants include adult Catholics of all ages and from all walks of life — all eager to deepen their faith and understanding of the Catholic Church.
Stephanie De Silva, a Cranston resident who worships regularly at the Cathedral, said she enrolled in the course after listening to one of Father Almagno’s engaging homilies.
“His homily was very moving,” recalled De Silva. “I decided to take this class based on the fact that his approach is very accessible and is based on common sense.”
De Silva also enjoys the priest’s sense of humor.
“I’m really enjoying it,” De Silva continued. “It’s almost like a college philosophy course.”
Mark Mitchell, also a Cathedral parishioner, noted that he attends the weekly sessions to obtain a deeper understanding of his faith.
“I’ve been searching for many years for the proper venue,” Mitchell said, adding that he has been inspired by Father Almagno’s homilies.
“I knew that this would be the right place to learn a lot more,” he continued. “It just ties everything together so wonderfully. It’s a great bridge to understanding the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.”
Sahaya Josephine, a member of the choir at St. Sebastian Church, said the course has helped her to find answers to questions that have challenged her for many years.
“Many times I have had questions for which I did not get an answer - answers to adult questions,” said Josephine, who graduated from a convent school in India and is now pursuing doctoral studies in education at the University of Hartford.
The course participant said that she was motivated to attend the class to gain a better understanding of how she could live her Catholic faith in her daily life outside the church.
“I feel that Father Almagno has a very rich experience,” Josephine added. “He has an excellent sense of humor. He is very witty.”
She added that the friar has the ability to uncomplicate important and often difficult issues and Church teachings.
“Where do you get so much knowledge for free in the United States?” she quipped.
While there is no fee for the course, participants are required to purchase and be prepared to discuss the text, which is available from Amazon.com and at major bookstores.
Each week, Father Almagno provides students with pertinent handouts. The course will resume on April 10 following an Easter recess.
For more information about the course or to register, call 331-2434; or e-mail: email@example.com.