I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar this week with Dr. Tim Gray, the president of the Augustine Institute out of Denver, Colorado, as he explained the plans they have for their new online ministry, "Formed."
About a year ago the Augustine Institute developed a wonderful adult faith formation video series called "Symbolon." They released the series for purchase as is usually done with video programs. Parishes or individuals buy the program and watch it in homes and parish halls across the country. But then, they did something new. They made the entire content of Symbolon available online so that parishes could purchase a subscription, that would enable parishioners to access the content using a password. Now, every parishioner could have access to the material at any time on any device. We saw the value of this immediately in our work of trying to reach young families who are notoriously busy and will not ever come to the wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth we make available in our parish hall. We took a risk and bought the subscription. We did a big "in house" promotion of Symbolon at the beginning of Advent with the pastor talking about it at every Mass. Then just before Ash Wednesday we did a big mailing to every person in the parish inviting them to watch one episode a week throughout Lent. We had over 150 individuals register. This was pretty amazing for us because we are a small parish and adult faith formation classes generally only draw 25 or 30 people. We had positive feedback from young and old alike.
So now, the Augustine Institute is poised to release "Formed." Like Symbolon, it is an online video delivery system that makes quality Catholic teaching available to every parishioner on every device at any time. But....it is so much more! "Formed" will have an impressive array of excellent teaching material and resources from some of the best Catholic teachers in America today. All of the Augustine Institute’s programs will be available including:
Symbolon - a 20 part series for adults on the content and life of our faith
Beloved - a 12 part marriage preparation/enrichment series
Ydisciple - a powerful discipleship program for teens already being used in youth ministries across the country
Lectio - studies of scripture and tradition, like the popular series "Peter" and "The Eucharist"
And they plan to add more, including a baptismal preparation series entitled "Reborn" (awesome teaser on their website: http://www.augustineinstitute.org
Now this is truly amazing to have all of these resources available online on demand. But the Institute didn't stop there. They formed partnerships with other leaders in adult Catholic faith formation so that "Formed" will also feature:
And they intend to add more. Their desire is to produce a "one stop" site full of quality Catholic content for parishes and individuals.
I was obviously very impressed with their plans. The technology they are using is state of the art. According to Dr. Gray, their performance tests have delivered the video content faster and smoother than Netflix and Amazon Prime. Using tools that can reach young families right in the midst of their busy lives removes a significant barrier that prevents them from learning more deeply the great truths of our faith. Because of its quality and accessibility, I believe Formed can be a truly powerful force in the furtherance of the New Evangelization in Maine.
Watch the trailer here:http://www.augustineinstitute.org/formed-coming-soon
Don Smith is a "revert" to the Catholic Church. After being a Protestant minister for over 20 years he is happy to be "home."