On many parish websites, I am still seeing requests for catechists to come forward to teach one or another grade of religious education. This is a regular fall ritual in parishes, even as we try to upgrade the whole religious formation for children. For most parishes, it comes down to classes needing teachers-and teachers being difficult to find.
One of the important shifts I’ve seen in this area, however, is the desire to focus on the family and not just the student. I certainly noted this at the NCCL conference in St. Louis last May. While much can be accomplished in helping students grow in discipleship, we all know that when a family comes to see itself as disciples then the possibilities of true formation in faith really come forth.
As religious education gets underway, perhaps directors can look beyond the classroom model and try to think of ways to reach families along with children:
- Discussion and sharing processes for parents during the religious education period.
- Ways for families to experience and celebrate, at Sunday Mass but also at various services in which their children fulfill different ministry roles.
- Materials for children to take home for family activities that further discipleship.
- Ways to encourage more active parents to invite less active ones for group discussion or some parish activity.
We need to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. Newer patterns of modern life have stretched our older models of faith formation. So new wine for the new wineskins of today’s modern life is desperately needed, particularly in our outreach to families
Our September issue is chock full of interesting articles and reflections. In this issue you will find: Paulist Seminarian Mike Hennessy, CSP, talking about how he uses Benedictine beer for outreach, also information about the Faith Series from our PEM store, a story about an innovative outreach from a DC parish, my reflection which puts ecumenism and interfaith sharing into the context of evangelization, which I hope you will find helpful, and more.
Peace and blessings,