I’m hearing that some parishes are experimenting with a catechetical model that employs a summer intensive religious education program for K-8 (usually 3 weeks) while throughout the year, offering periodic intergenerational events and a weekly children’s liturgy of the Word. Sounds to me like an interesting alternative. This is not to be confused with a Vacation Bible School. it is the formal religious education program taking place in a 3-week intensive model. Instead of having twenty- to twenty-five weekly sessions of 75- to 90-minutes throughout the year (@ 30 hours of formal class time), the summer intensive meets 4 or 5 days a week for 2 or 3 hours, covering about the same amount of class time…about 30 hours. I’d love to hear thoughts, especially from anyone doing this model. Have a great weekend!
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Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.
This model is used at a lot of parishes that espouse the Whole Community Catechesis Model. It’s focus on the summer intensive is so that during the school year (when most families have a stable routine, as compared to summer) the religious education piece is done intergenerationally with a focus on the family and such. It doesn’t preclude activities for individual age groups, but suggests that these are in the larger context of the family gathering. There are a ton of great books out there on this!
Thanks, Katie. Please DO recommend some titles for us.
There are a few parishes around us that have this sort of a summer intensive program and it is very popular. The DREs that run these programs say that the kids who are in it do better on the NCEA ACRE than the kids enrolled in traditional programs. Some adapt the texts that they use in the traditional programs and others develop their own programs based on the diocesan curricula centered around a theme like the Beatitudes. I’d love to do soemthing like this, but we don’t have the facilities to support it over the summer.
Thanks, Amy. I wonder if the ACRE scores are better because there is more continuity (sessions every day instead of once a week) and the kids retain more over a 3-week period rather than 8 months. Interesting.
My church uses both types of programs (school year and summer intensive) and my children participate in the summer program. I love it! They are learning so much more about their faith than I did at their age. We have three cycles that the children go through twice (once in grades 4-6 and then the second in grades 7-9). I teach the program as well (grade 7)and I’m always impressed at how much the children remember from year to year!
Christina, it sounds like your parish has a pretty solid approach to the school year/summer intensive model. How wonderful that the children are retaining knowledge of their faith from year to year. Thanks for sharing.
It looks like it’s been a number of years since this topic was discussed, but I’d be interested to hear of resources that might help a parish discern the possibility of offering this as one of several options for faith formation? Thanks for any suggestions you may have!
Hi Faye! Yes, this discussion is a few years old but the topic remains relevant. I encourage you to contact an Educational Consultant from Loyola Press to ask about summer intensive models for the Finding God and Christ Our Life programs and their experience with parishes that have implemented such models. You can find your LP Educational Consultant here: https://www.loyolapress.com/general/find-educational-consultant/