This year, in addition to my work in Adult Faith Formation at St. Barnabas Parish, I am also assisting the DRE at St. Cajetan, Deb Breakey, where I served as a 6th grade catechist last year. Together, we are focusing on changing the “drop-off” mentality of the parents of kids in the Religious Education program.
To that end, the first night of RE (September 16) will have a totally different look than in years past. Previously, parents simply needed to drop their kids off at 6 pm for the start of class and, if they needed to complete paperwork (registration, tuition, etc.), they would enter the building, take care of business, and leave.
This year, the program will begin with an intergenerational event to kick off the program. Here are some general details:
- Emails and letters have been going out directing parents to come with their children to the parish hall and to remain with them for the evening.
- Signs will be posted all around the parish grounds and volunteers will be present directing everyone to gather in the parish hall.
- Parents will sit with their kids at tables. A prayer center will be set up in the middle of the gathering space. Praise music will be playing/projected on the screen as all gather. Examples: Here I Am, Lord; On Eagle’s Wings
- From 6:00-6:30, we will have a welcome, greeting, and a prayer of blessing and sending forth.
- After a brief greeting and welcome, one child from each grade will walk in procession, carrying a Finding God textbook for their grade level which they will place on the prayer center. (Procession song: Prayer of St. Francis)
- All will be invited to join in a Psalm of Praise (Psalm 100) which will be prayed “antiphonally” – the adults will read the words (projected on the screen) in red and the children will read the words in green.
- We will stand for the Gospel acclamation and the Gospel reading followed by a brief homily from the pastor.
- Next, prayers of blessing (here are the texts) will be prayed over the following:
- Finding God textbooks
- Finally, the children will be sent forth 2 grades at a time (led by the student carrying their Finding God textbook) to the words: “Go forth now and may the word of God be in your minds, on your lips, and in your hearts.” (all make three fold sign of cross on forehead, lips, and chest) As the children process out, the parents sing a refrain (Taize) accompanied by projected video: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, in the Lord I will rejoice, Look to God, do not be afraid, lift up your voices, the Lord is near; lift up your voices, the Lord is near.
- From 6:30-7:00 pm, we will do some adult faith formation
- I will introduce the video “Ritual Matters” (from the God’s Gift Director Resource DVD) which we will view (10 mins)
- We will then invite table discussion for 5 minutes on the following question: Describe a family ritual or custom that you remember from the time you were growing up. How can you practice this with your family today?
- Deb will then use about 15 minutes to go over some details about the program with a special emphasis on opportunities for the parents to be more involved.
- From 7:00-7:30 pm, the parents will be invited to socialize and/or complete paperwork such as registration and tuition payments. Each family will receive a folder filled with resources for their own faith formation.
At the conclusion of the evening, the parents will proceed to their children’s room(s) to retrieve their children and be on their way.
This is a very ambitious plan, however, if we want to change the “drop off” mentality, it’s going to take some BIG thinking!