From a recent post on the Washington Times website:
The release of the complete adult faith formation series “Symbolon: the Catholic Faith Explained” hopes to offer a profound way of encountering the truths of the Catholic Church.
“Symbolon is designed to be a resource for adult faith formation for the new evangelization,” Dr. Edward Sri of the Denver-based Augustine Institute told CNA Aug. 20.
“The Symbolon video series proclaims the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith in a way that meets people where they are at, captivates their hearts and minds for Christ and His Church and forms them with a Catholic worldview that prepares them to engage the many cultural influences today that undermine Christian living.”
Mr. Sri is the program director for the Symbolon faith formation series, produced by the Augustine Institute and distributed by Ignatius Press and Lighthouse Catholic Media. ...
“We wanted to build a program that walks people through the entirety of the Catholic faith in a way that shapes their lives,” Mr. Sri continued. “Through the 20 episodes of ‘Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained’ we cover everything a Catholic needs to know about the faith.”
Dr. Sri says that "about 2,000 parishes have used Symbolon in parish life and 'thousands' of people brought the program into their homes for individual or family viewing."
Catholic World Report interviewed Dr. Sri about Symbolon earlier this year:
CWR: What was the genesis of Symbolon, and how did the program come about? Who are some of the folks involved in producing the program?
Dr. Sri: The program originally was intended for RCIA, but we quickly saw that it would have a much wider impact being used by parishes and individuals for any adult faith formation setting. Many parish and diocesan directors of catechesis who saw some of the initial episodes said, “We want to use this for adult faith formation, for men’s groups, women’s groups, marriage and family ministry!” And that’s fitting. The Church teaches that the RCIA is the model form of adult catechesis since many adult Catholics need to go through the same stages of conversion as those who are entering full communion in the Church. Indeed, as John Paul II once said, many adult Catholics are “quasi-catechumens” (Catechesi Tradendae, 44).
So the Symbolon program, from its very beginning, had a focus on evangelization, on leading souls through the Catholic faith step-by-step in a way that inspires them to surrender their lives more to Jesus Christ and to live in communion with him in the Church.
The Augustine Institute produced Symbolon with our amazing video and print production team we have right here on our campus in Denver. Some bishops expressed to our President Dr. Tim Gray the challenges facing RCIA today and encouraged him to have the Augustine Institute develop a new program. It was his vision to go in this direction and build the team and the studios that made this all possible. His vision for the Augustine Institute to form Catholics for the New Evangelization through training and through resources like Symbolon has brought together a team of very talented people to serve in this mission.
And it truly is a team effort here at the Augustine Institute. I was blessed to work alongside our faculty, our production team, and many catechists around the country on the development of the curriculum, the video series and the supplemental parish resources. In particular, Lucas Police, who is the Associate Director of Symbolon at the Augustine Institute, was invaluable. His many years of experience in parish and diocesan catechetical work helped ensure we were not just making a beautiful Catholic video, but one that would serve the Church’s evangelizing and catechetical mission well.
CWR: There have been a number of catechetical programs produced in recent years. What are some of the particular strengths and unique features of Symbolon?
Dr. Sri: Many of the individuals and parishes leaders who have been using Symbolon have said it’s unique in that it provides a comprehensive A-to-Z presentation of the Catholic faith. One person described it as a “one-stop shopping” kind of program covering everything from The Trinity, Creation, the Cross, and the Church to the Bible, the sacraments, Mary, and the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality, marriage, human life, and care for the poor. A parish director of education said she loves the program because she knows anyone going through it will be getting the breadth of the Catholic faith
People also have told us they like the fact that Symbolon has a team of teachers. It’s not just one person or a talking head. Every episode features several dynamic presenters, teaching in different settings—sometimes in Rome, sometimes in an interview format, sometimes straight to camera, sometimes giving a talk in front of a live audience. The variety of teachers, settings, and styles keeps the videos moving and engaging. Each episode leaves people hungering for more. As one person said, it creates a “to be continued” feel.
Another key feature of Symbolon is the emphasis on life application and the call to conversion. It constantly is bringing the faith to real life—how do I live this out practically in my life? It also engages current cultural questions people have today: Why do I need a Church? Isn’t Jesus just one of many great religious teachers? What is marriage? Is there really a right and wrong for everyone? Do I really have a responsibility toward the poor? And every episode culminates with a call to conversion, inviting viewers to consider how they can give their lives more to Christ through the particular aspect of the faith being discussed.
Finally, people also tell us they are immediate impressed by the beauty of the video presentation. The videos don’t just teach the faith, they show the faith through the sacred art, spectacular cinematography, the beautiful churches of Rome and the beautiful music throughout.
"Symbolon offers a complete program for adult catechesis, with written text, video and DVD, and clear instructions for leading groups of adult learners, all at the service of the beauty and truth given us in divine revelation as interpreted by the Church. The immense effort expended in creating the program will, I hope, be matched by its success in shaping minds and hearts in the Catholic faith."
- Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago
"Symbolon shows prospective Catholics and long-time Catholics not just Church teachings but the Catholic way of life-not just the what but the how of the faith. It does this with a sophisticated mix of images, sound, and text. Participants become intrigued with the Church without being overwhelmed with data. They see how doctrines and practices fit together and how they are meant to be lived out in their own lives. I've never seen a faith-formation program so well thought through as Symbolon."
- Karl Keating, President of Catholic Answers and author of Catholicism and Fundamentalism
"I've admired the Augustine Institute for years as one of the finest engines of the New Evangelization in North America, and its new RCIA/adult faith formation series, Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained, is outstanding in every sense. Beautifully produced, rich in content and pleasing to watch, Symbolon is not just a great adult tool for teaching and learning the Catholic faith, but a joy to experience."
- Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
"Pope Francis, like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has called every Catholic to be a missionary disciple, an agent of the New Evangelization. And evangelically alert Catholics must be well-formed Catholics.This splendid series will help prepare Catholics to enter mission territory every day, offering others friendship with Jesus Christ."
- George Weigel, William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, Ethics and Public Policy Center
"I have long been looking for a substantial program of catechesis for the RCIA, as well as for adult religious formation. The Augustine Institute's Symbolon is the answer to my prayers. This is a beautifully produced and engaging presentation of the Catholic faith. Symbolon is not only an orthodox compendium of Catholic teaching, but also one that speaks to the questions of those searching for meaning in a secularized culture. I recommend Symbolon to any bishop or pastor who is looking for help in carrying out the New Evangelization."
- Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs
"I like it! It meets the needs of an adult learner because it takes complex concepts and brings them into a practical form through visuals, discussion, and reflections, helping the learner apply it to their own life. It gives a wider view of what the Church teaches, rather than just what comes from Scripture."
- Ginny, St. Joseph Parish
"There are so many levels of the Church, it gets us back to the basics of our faith and explains them at a level we can understand. Symbolon helps us to bring the foundations of our faith into our everyday life."
- Ed and Karen, St. Joseph Parish,
"The videos and guides [for the leader and participants] are really good. They are good not only for RCIA candidates, but also for anyone looking for a refresher on their faith. We want to use the videos to do ongoing training with our catechists. For instance, this fall, I want to invite all our catechists to come together and delve into the episode entitled ‘Who is Jesus?' "
- Brian Desmarais, Church of St. Mary, Tulsa, OK
"Everyone - parents, couples, older [parish] members - are all loving the richness of the videos, and what they are learning. The videos are so captivating and informative! The real key though is that parishioners can access the materials online, wherever they are at, and go deeper with them. Some of our parish moms can't make it to our Wednesday night sessions, so they are going through the sessions at home with their families. Recently, our parish's deacon came up to me and told me that he is hearing a lot of good things about Symbolon from parishioners. It is very exciting to watch it grow in our parish!"
- Belinda Minzenmayer, St. Luke, Temple, TX
"I like the way it is presented, easy to understand. It takes the basics of our Catholic faith and gets right to the point. It seems to talk to everyone; anywhere they are at with their faith."
- Francis, St. Joseph Parish
"I think Symbolon is awesome and I hope all RCIA programs will think seriously about using this program. What I like most is the way knowledgeable Catholic Scripture scholars and theologians present the material through a teaching dialogue. Also, the content of the class keeps the group focused on the truths of the faith and guides them with authentic Catholic teachings. I love the beautiful visuals presented in the videos and I like the way the presenters talk about the authenticity and beauty of our Catholic faith, along with their ability to simplify the truths of the Church's teachings. I think the format of the class provides a well balanced approach between class discussion and presentation. Great job, Augustine Institute!!!!!"
- Mary, Blessed John the XXIII Parish
"I like using Symbolon because the brief videos fit with our busy schedules. The lessons are already prepared and I can focus on the faith."
- Chris H, Parish Dad
"Every Sunday night we sit and discuss the readings. My kids remember and understand what they heard at Mass. "
- Jan P, Parish Mom