In my life, there were many people who played a role in handing on the Catholic faith to me. I had catechists on Wednesday evenings, I had college friends who lived their faith well, I met some good and holy priests. All of these had a role to play in my faith life, however, none were greater than my very own parents.
It was their work as parents that planted the seed of the faith in my heart that were of such importance. One way they shared the faith was through their witness of the faith through attending mass faithfully every weekend (and staying until the final verse, thus preventing me from getting the “good” donuts with the sprinkles). However, it was also through the conversations that we had as a family. I recall after mass that my parents would often “review” the homily with us in the car ride home. Also, my mother would teach me how to pray the rosary. My dad, raised Lutheran, would help me memorize Bible verses for religious education classes or review my homework from class. All of this has helped me to realize what the Church has taught from the very beginning: Parents are the primary teachers of the faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes Blessed Pope Paul VI about parents and their role as saying, “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” and that the right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. (CCC 2221).
It is with this experience and teaching in mind that we will be implementing a new style of faith formation at Nativity of Mary. It will be called Family Catechesis. The idea behind this new way will be to help the family learn together as well as equip the parents to share the faith with their children. Often, parents can feel intimidated by the idea of sharing their faith with their children and this style of program works to not only alleviate that fear but to also equip the parents to plant seeds in the hearts of their children, and what we discover is that when we share with others, we inevitably learn as well...and this is the heart of catechesis.
But what do we mean by catechesis? Catechesis is a Greek word that means "echoing." The practical application of this word tells us that not only do we grow in faith by receiving information to one another, we do so by sharing our faith with one another.
Family catechesis refers to a program which involves children from preschool through those in eighth grade, with at least one parent or grandparent attending religious education sessions together with the children.
Intergenerational means mixing generations, including preschool children, elementary and intermediate-age children, preteens and teens, parents and/or grandparents; other adults in the parish can participate as well.
As we announced in last week's bulletin, we will be running a new religious education program this fall using this model. Families will meet twice a month. One meeting will take place on Wednesday night from 6:30 - 8:00 PM, the other from 9:00 - 10:20 AM before 10:30 Mass. Each meeting has a different purpose.
On Wednesday night, families start together. After prayer and an introduction into the evening's topic, the children will go with a trained catechist for their lesson while the parents learn more about the topic at an adult level as well as receive support to pass this knowledge on to their children and more deeply live out their faith life at home.
Special Sundays are program days where the family works together as a unit along with other families on some service project or social activity with the intent to serve our community or build deeper relationships with Christ in our families and community.
Fr Nathan LaLiberte