Here are descriptions of the four sessions as described by Sister Eilish Ryan, director of the Pastoral Institute.
Session I: “Towards a Theology of Forgiveness”: What does our Tradition say about forgiveness? What is the human experience of forgiveness? This session will explore the human dynamic of sin and forgiveness. Using insights from anthropology, psychology and spirituality, we will examine what it is to be human, the human need to be forgiven, and how the Church speaks about our sin and God’s mercy.
Session II: “Forgiveness, Mercy, and the Word of God”: Turning to Scripture, this session will reflect on the various ways God shows mercy in both the Old and New Testament. What does the Word of God reveal to us about ourselves? What does Scripture have to teach us about who God is and about how God deals with us? How might this impact our own journey of forgiveness and mercy?
Session III: “The Eucharist – School of God’s Forgiveness”: The Documents of Vatican II have called the liturgy the “summit and fount” of the Church’s life. This session will look at the Eucharistic liturgy itself as the place we, as a community of faith, learn the appropriate postures and gestures of forgiveness. How does what we do around the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist form us into a community of forgiveness and mercy?
“What is the Church to Do? Vatican II and the Mission of the Church”: Returning to the documents of Vatican II, we’ll trace the essential elements of the Church’s mission. We’ll develop a clear picture of the connection between what we do internally (for example, celebration of the liturgy and sacraments) and what we do externally (such as working for justice and evangelization). We’ll apply the Church’s teaching regarding its mission to our own experiences of Church life to recognize where we live that mission well and to identify opportunities for growth.
Session IV: “Catechetical Formation and Forgiveness”: How do we teach about forgiveness? What are ways that we can lead those we catechize, children and adults, to a deeper understanding of God’s mercy and, in turn, to live lives of mercy? This session will examine how we prepare both children and adults to receive the sacraments and suggest ways for ongoing catechesis and formation, developing a spirituality of forgiveness that ultimately leads us to a deeper response of love.