BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
Faith formation is just as much “Christian living as Christian believing” for Jeff Andrini, the Diocese of Owensboro’s new director of the Office of Faith Formation.
Andrini told the WKC in a July 11 interview that he was raised in a “good Catholic family,” with youth ministry opportunities and parents who were “really involved” in the Church.
But in college, he “ran from God and questioned my faith,” said Andrini. God never stopped pursuing him, however.
After having “an awesome conversion experience” near the end of college, which Andrini compared to the story of St. Paul’s dramatic conversion in the New Testament, “it really changed my trajectory.”
Andrini joined the National Evangelization Team (NET), which sends teams of young adult missionaries to share the faith with high school students across the country.
He followed that with a job in youth ministry, and later continued in the ministry of evangelization with Cultivation Ministries in Illinois, and then nearly 20 years of experience as the director of faith formation at a parish in Michigan.
Andrini, who arrived at the diocese in March, looks forward to carrying everything he’s learned over the years into his role with the Catholic Church of western Kentucky.
Andrini holds a doctor of ministry degree from Catholic Theological Union, a master of art degree in pastoral theology from St. Joseph College, a master of art degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University and a bachelor of art degree in sociology and theology from Marquette University – but emphasized that “being a disciple means more than book knowledge.”
Rather, it is “modeling your life after the One you call Lord,” he said.
He said that one of the greatest challenges to Catholic faith formation today is the “hypocrisy of the Church.”
Though the Church has overcome numerous struggles in the past 2,000 years, he pointed out that the current abuse crisis has shaken peoples’ trust in a particular way.
“We have some trust to regain,” said Andrini, and this can be done by “getting back to our critical mission – being Christ’s hands and feet in the world.”
He said he is glad that the diocese has embarked on its four-year “Living as Missionary Disciples” evangelization plan of Encounter, Accompany, Community, and Send: “Nothing is more important than evangelization.”
Andrini anticipates helping parish catechetical leaders “inspire a lifelong journey of transformation” in the people they serve, especially through practical means like programs and certification opportunities to “help people grow as individuals in their relationship with God.”
But most of all, he said he looks forward to “people seeing that the focus of our faith is being God’s presence in the world.”
Originally printed in the August 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2019 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic