The Adult Faith Formation Program for the Yukon-Kuskowim region began in 2002 as a response to a pastoral need voiced by many people in the Yup'ik Eskimo villages over the years. At the same time, the US Catholic Bishops had just published Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan For Adult Faith Formation In The United States at the end of 1999. The Adult Faith Formation Program became the latest effort of the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks to nurture the growth of the local church in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region.
The Adult Faith Formation Program Director is a member of the professional staff which serves the region. With the collaboration of about fifteen lay ministers from various villages, the Adult Faith Formation Program has been developing a vision of faith formation which revolves around the four elements of adult religious education, spirituality, intercultural dialogue, and social justice. Adult religious education has taken the form of discussion groups, bible study, and workshops on topics such as the history of the Mass and the changes of the Second Vatican Council. Spiritual life and prayer have been cultivated by regional and local retreats, developing music ministry, a homily-preparation program on KNOM (the diocesan-operated radio station for western Alaska), encouraging faith-sharing groups, creating resources for prayer, and supporting local devotions like the rosary. Dialogue has assumed the form of a small Intercultural Dialogue Group which meets once a year to discuss various aspects of the Yup'ik culture as well as ways of encouraging inculturation. The social justice aspect of the Adult Faith Formation Program has been expressed in regional workshops, local conferences, listening sessions by the Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops (ACCB) and an on-going effort to connect faith with work on social issues.
The AFF Program serves the 24 parishes of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region. First, the program seeks to recognize, develop and support local faith formation leaders in the parishes. Second, the program provides resources and activities for adult Yup'ik Catholics of the region such as retreats, workshops, and prayer resources. Third, the program serves as a resource on faith formation to the professional staff in the region. And fourth, the Adult Faith Formation Program acts in coordination and collaboration with other diocesan programs to realize the vision of church in this region.