Thanks be to God, we had a wonderfully successful kick-off event for the Religious Education program at St. Cajetan that focused on the adults as well as the children. The goal was to begin to chip away at the “drop-off” mentality and I think it is safe to say that last night we made a significant dent! I counted at least 100 adults present and we prepared 115 folders! Here’s a pictorial summary:
Signage was key to communicating that something different was taking place. Deb placed about a dozen of these signs all over the parish “campus.” They could not be missed and people came straight to the hall and entered without hesitation.
God is in the details: every table had a place setting with flowers, holy cards, icons, statuettes, or prayer books. This is the main prayer table and Deb is preparing her notes at the podium. Several Finding God Exploring Faith Through Art Easels add to the decor. To the left of Deb is my computer/projector/speakers and sacred music is playing with sacred images being projected.
Children from each grade carried in their Finding God textbook and placed it on the prayer table as we sang an opening hymn. Lyrics were projected on the screen but folks were not in the singing mood at least at first although they were reverent.
The pastor, Fr. Frank, did a wonderful job of proclaiming the Gospel, offering some inspiring thoughts and then blessing the parents, children, catechists, and textbooks.
Here, the catechists hold their Finding God textbooks as they are blessed. They then led their classes out grade by grade to go to the school. We sang a refrain as they were dismissed. In all, the prayer took 30 minutes.
Once the children were gone, we viewed a 10-minute video (Ritual Matters – from Loyola Press) and then invited the parents to chat at their table about rituals from their own childhood or rituals they practice with their own families now.
The table discussions were lively and when I invited volunteers to share with the large group, 3 people shared examples of rituals from their own families which were quite lovely. This segment lasted about 35 minutes total.
After Deb went over some specifics about the RE program, folks were invited to spend about 20 minutes socializing before going over to the school building to find their child’s room, meet the catechist and retrieve their child to go home.
Throughout the event, the spirit was light and lively. Faces looked happy and smiles were present. No one looked angry, bored, or exasperated and I credit that to a good “lesson plan” that engaged everyone, respected them, and made them feel welcome and involved in their child’s faith formation.
This should go a long way in setting the tone for any other adult faith formation opportunities that Deb and I hope to work on throughout the year!