“The catechesis of infants and young children nourishes the beginnings of the life of faith.” “The most important task of the catechesis of children is to provide, through the witness of adults, an environment in which young people can grow in faith.” (National Directory for Catechesis 48) Parents, through their own experience and practice of faith, are the primary catechists in their child’s life of faith which begins within the family. “Catechetical programs for children…seek to foster their growth in a wider faith community.” (NDC 48)
According to the National Directory for Catechesis, “Family-centered catechetical programs are opportunities for parents to catechize their children directly, for spouses to catechize each other and for children to catechize one another and their parents. All forms of organized family catechesis should flow from and lead back to the church. ” (NDC 61.2)
Family Catechesis’ basic goal and mission is to help families be the “domestic church” that is needed for the building up of the Kingdom of God. In offering a variety of learning and faith sharing opportunities, family catechesis can: help families learn how to pray and to discuss their faith together; help parents better understand their role as primary catechists; bring families together in order to share and deepen their Catholic faith; strengthen the relationship between the family and the Church; establish ongoing Catholic faith practices within the family life; and integrate the family into the parish community.
Catholic leaders all over the country are responding to the call for Family Catechesis. In response to the call to a “new evangelization”, the Church has rediscovered the importance of faith formation for the entire Catholic family. As families struggle with the pressures of our contemporary society, the Church urges parish leaders to offer a variety of faith sharing / learning opportunities that will help families grow into the “domestic church” we need them to be. Family Catechesis should and needs to be an integral part of the total catechetical plan in all of our Catholic parishes.
Family Catechesis can offer many benefits, in particular: Involves the whole family in the liturgical life of the parish; builds up the faith of the whole family; provides a way to teach, model and demonstrate family faith practices; provides resources for families to live Christian practices at home; eases the transfer of learning to the home because of the whole family involvement; and builds up the confidence of parents to share faith and values with their children by providing parent education resources, support and encouragement.
ONSITE CLASSROOM MODEL: This model is based on a parish pre-Covid mode of catechesis for children. Children meet in grade-level classes, on a weekly basis or alternating weeks. This model involves the recruitment of volunteer catechists. Family materials are included with textbooks as a way to connect learning at the parish with Christian living in the home. With this model, many parishes hold parent sessions and/or workshops in addition to the weekly class sessions.
Adaptations for this model during COVID-19 include:
• Sanitizing all surfaces before and after facility usage.
• Use of facial coverings by all participants.
• Implementation of social distancing. At all times, please follow current diocesan, state, local, and CDC advisories.
OFFSITE FORMATION: This model is based on any faith formation events taking place somewhere other than the parish campus.This model would include At-Home Catechesis.
Adaptations for this model during COVID-19 include:
• Move all gathered faith formation events away from the parish campus.
• Engage people in the three different learning communities: inter-generational, family, peer
• Children’s faith formation lessons can be sent home and parents can be asked to teach the lesson plans.
• New materials could be offered that focus on family faith formation instead of grade level instruction.
• Emphasis on family prayer and faith sharing.
• Use of online platforms such as Zoom, or GoToMeeting, etc.
HYBRID FORMATION MODEL• This model includes elements of both the Onsite and Offsite models.
• Parent sessions at the parish to connect families, form adults, and engage parents
.• Organize ‘drive thru’ events to pick up materials or build community (ie. distribute Easter baskets, Advent wreaths, prayer cards, etc.)
• Train catechists to serve as companions for families to meet with via Zoom or other online platforms
• Assign families to accompany each other, via telephone for encouragement and support.
• Twenty-five percent of families could meet at the parish each week; faith formation could be held in homes the remaining weeks of the month
Strong Catholic Family Faith: This website was created to provide parish and school leaders with high quality resources to build strong Catholic families.
The Peyton Institute for Domestic Church: Created by Holy Cross Family Ministries in collaboration with Pastoral Solutions Institute, The Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life was formed to create a collaborative think tank of distinguished theologians, social scientists, and pastoral ministry professionals noted for their work and writings on family life.
Lifelong Faith- John Roberto developed this website as a service to helping others committed to helping parishes develop lifelong faith formation for all ages and generations.
PARENT FAITH SHARING/SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
Family Catechesis Resources
Catholic Family Websites:
TEACHING CATHOLIC KIDS | http://osvparish.com/
Editor Margaret DeMatteo offers an ages-and-stages approach to the liturgical season with awesome craft and activity ideas, reflection questions, prayer and more. This site is perfect for catechists, homeschoolers, moms and more; be sure to bookmark this page on your browser.
CATHOLIC MOM | http://catholicmom.com/
True to its name, this site offers a plethora of tips, tools and reference materials for Catholic moms. Daily features include the Daily Gospel Reflections, Tech Talk and Book Notes. On Sunday, new Lectionary-based activities are posted, and there is a weekly giveaway of Catholic resources. Founded by popular speaker and writer Lisa Hendey, catholicmom.com offers moms various ways to connect and build community by joining in book-club discussions or the Small Success linkups.
CATHOLIC ICING | http://www.catholicicing.com/
Kid time is all about finding something to do in 20-minute increments; the smaller your kids the shorter their attention span. One great way to pass the time — and give your faith a boost — is to visit catholicicing.com. This website is loaded with kid-friendly crafts for the beginner all the way up to the pro. Lacy Rabideau offers clear instructions and numerous ideas for tiny hands.
EQUIPPING CATHOLIC FAMILIES | http://equippingcatholicfamilies.com/
This site offers family activities, seasonal crafts, reading recommendations and more. Updated often, Monica McConkey also provides links to other sites (such as Pinterest), excellent Catholic resources and family-friendly catechetical materials. Equipping Catholic Families shares plenty of ways to involve your whole family in actively being Catholic.
CATHOLIC FOODIE | http://catholicfoodie.com/
This hip and timely site offers recipes, food blogs, cooking tips and more, all within the context of our Catholic faith. Jeff Young’s goal is to us understand “how food — good food — can be a sign of God’s love and care for each of us and our families.” Food brings families together. Be sure to bookmark this site for the seasons of Advent and Lent and any time you’re looking for fresh and wholesome family recipes.
LOYOLA PRESS | https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/family/family-faith-and-fun
Catholic family life is an opportunity to recognize the grace of God in daily living. Choose a link for ideas on how to nurture your family’s faith.
CATHOLIC FAMILY FAITH | http://www.catholicfamilyfaith.org/
This website was created by catechetical and evangelization staff from the Catholic dioceses of Jefferson City, MO (Jim Kemna, now retired); San Jose, CA (Wendy Scherbart, now retired); and St. Petersburg, FL (Diane Kledzik) to provide parish and school leaders with high quality resources to build strong Catholic families. All three came together through their involvement with the Strong Catholic Families Strong Catholic Youth initiative, in May 2012. Denise Utter from the Diocese of Joliet, IL, joined the team in 2014, sharing her passion for building strong Catholic families and increasing their social media presence. All four collaborators are members of theNational Conference for Catechetical Leadership, (NCCL).
Director, Catechetical Services