FORMED: Answering The Call
“The Gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask: ‘Master, what must we do?’” said Pope Francis to a crowd of over 20,000 during his September 25, 2015 visit to New York City. “The first thing that Jesus does in response is to . . . urge them to go out and meet others where they really are. Go out, again and again . . . Go out and proclaim this joy which is for all the people.”
Three days later, FORMED, a revolutionary online platform that provides access to the best Catholic audio talks, movies, e-books, and video-based studies, was launched. Born out of a partnership between the Augustine Institute, Lighthouse Catholic Media, and Ignatius Press, FORMED centers on the mission to do what Christ commanded his disciples to do: to meet people where they are.
In two short years, FORMED has more than 400,000 subscribers around the globe and some 2,500 individual content assets from trusted Catholic apostolates including the Augustine Institute, Ignatius Press, Catholic Answers, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Knights of Columbus, and many others.
FORMED has something for everyone, including: the “Brother Francis” series, which teaches children about the traditions of the Church, many in-depth Bible studies with the Augustine Institute’s Lectio series, movies on the lives of the saints for the whole family to enjoy, and much more.
“I like to think of it as the on-ramp to our faith journey,” says FORMED’s managing director, Lou Reynolds. “FORMED has everything from entertainment, inspiration, all the way to full-on catechesis. There is a full range of resources, and they are all available 24/7 for people to use in their own personal way. . . . It’s a path for people to grow in their faith.”
The success of FORMED
Since its launch in 2015, FORMED has had a profound impact on its users. Reynolds and his team are no strangers to hearing from church authorities and lay people on the profound impact that FORMED has had in the parishes it’s implemented in, as well as in people’s individual faith journeys.
“There is no way we could duplicate the unique and incredible value FORMED brings to our parish,” said Monsignor Daniel D. of Loves Park, Illinois. “We are now engaging more effectively than ever before.”
Community and fellowship are being built via small group study and parish-wide studies using FORMED. Families can sit down together and watch engaging, spiritually enriching movies.
One of the key elements that helps FORMED be so successful, says Reynolds, is the team of people at the helm of the operation. “Honestly, I can say that I’ve never really worked with a team that’s better than this team,” he says. “In every dimension, they are just wonderful people. They are loving and kind towards each other, but they are very hard working and dedicated. They are very focused and very talented.”
Reynolds especially credits the Holy Spirit for assembling a team of people with great talent and hearts especially focused on the Lord.
The future of FORMED
In 2017 alone, FORMED launched an iOS app, and commenting capabilities on the platform. But Reynolds and his team are far from finished.
Along with continuing to add to their content collection on the platform, Reynolds wants to make FORMED easier for users to access their favorite content via apps for TVs and other mobile devices, as well as create more opportunities for users to interact with each other on the platform itself, which would build fellowship and conversation among users.
Many Catholic apostolates have turned to more digital means to evangelize, but FORMED gives those apostolates the opportunity to make their content more widely available and gives individual subscribers a one-stop place to find the most trusted Catholic resources available.
Reynolds uses the example of the wildly popular 14-part series, “Wild Goose,” from 4PM Media. The series is available for free on the apostolate’s website and on YouTube, but they wanted to ensure it was on FORMED with other orthodox Catholic content.
Reynolds recognizes that often times technology may be overwhelming, especially as it continues to grow and evolve. But he hopes that all his team’s efforts will make FORMED an integral part of people’s everyday lives.
“If you think about it,” says Reynolds, “we live in a world that is being bombarded from secular media 24/7, right? It’s non-stop. We are being bombarded with messages and opinions that are not really truthful and are really damaging our whole society and our culture—certainly not helping to give us hope or faith.”
FORMED, he says, is an opportunity to develop “holy habits,” especially for the younger generations, to combat worldly ideologies and to change the world for the better. Reynolds likens it to the Roman roads that the Apostles traversed to spread the gospel message.
The task may have seemed terribly daunting, he continues, but they recognized the need to seek out the people using the tools and technology they had. The same principle applies to this modern age.
“What’s the best way to reach people today?” asks Reynolds. “It’s to reach them where they are and then build a relationship with them so that little by little, they start to realize, ‘Wow, there is a lot more to my faith than I realized.’”