Sacraments Learning Stations at St. Gabriel’s in Riverdale, the Bronx

As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery so I am indeed flattered to learn that a parish in the Bronx – St. Gabriel – adapted my Sacraments of Initiation Learning Stations for use with their Family Faith Day, an intergenerational event. I’ll let Marie Gwertzman, the Sacramental Coordinator, fill you in and then you can enjoy the pics she sent along! Hats off to Marie and her DRE Glenn McCarthy!

November 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Dear Joe,

I am very excited to be using your suggestions for the Sacraments of Initiation as the basis for our Religious Education Program’s “Family Faith Day” this coming Saturday – Nov. 17. Here in the NY Archdiocese we are asked to include two intergenerational events every year on our catechetical calendar along with our regular classes. These events bring parents and children together to explore different aspects of the faith and i believe that the parents will enjoy deepening their understanding of these Sacraments through your creative and very “hands-on” activities as much as the children will. I expect that the children (ranging in age from 1st through 6th Graders) will work on the activities while the parents fill in the worksheets. I hope we have time at the end for everyone to share what they have learned. Thank you for sharing your creativity and imagination in so many different ways and for inspiring us always.

November 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

Dear Joe,
Our Family Faith Day yesterday on the Sacraments of Initiation using your Learning Stations was a great success! We had a great turnout (more than expected!) and both parents and children enjoyed and learned from the day. We set up the event in our school gym with the learning stations arranged around the walls grouped under the name of the Sacrament. We didn’t have space to do 12 individual stations but set them up by two’s. I wrote out directions for each activity and had those available on the tables. We enlarged your information sheets and put them up on the walls.

Our 8th Gr. Confirmation students were stationed at each table to help with the activities. Parents were given a kit when they came in with the three worksheets and one plastic bag. Briefly here are the modifications we made: the pastor blessed the water at the beginning of the event and we asked everyone to bless themselves with it rather than giving them bottle to take it home (too hard to find and expensive for so many.) Rather than a candle and real wax we used play dough in the “be sealed . . .” activity which worked pretty well actually – I just didn’t want a lighted candle in the presence of so many young children. I had run off some coloring sheets on the 3 sacraments for the youngest children so that they had an activity at their level while their parents and older siblings filled in the worksheets.

We divided the group (around 80 children and adults) into three groups and each group began with a different sacrament. People could take the worksheets and smaller copies of the information back to their tables in the middle of the room (where they had a pizza lunch to begin the event) to fill them out more easily if they wanted but people also liked moving around the room and working at the stations. I saw lots of children filling out the worksheets themselves and everyone was engaged and enthusiastic. We didn’t have a lot of time to process what people had learned at the end of the day but people said they found it very instructive and helpful. I’ll send you some photos when I get them. Thank you thank you for inspiring such a terrific family event for our parish – St. Gabriel’s in Riverdale, the Bronx.

Pictures from St. Gabriel’s Family Faith Day

About Joe Paprocki 2737 Articles
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

2 Comments on Sacraments Learning Stations at St. Gabriel’s in Riverdale, the Bronx

  1. Dear Joe,
    Thank you for your generous attention to St. Gabriel’s “Family Faith Day! Perhaps our experience may lead other parishes or Religious Education programs to try something like this. It was moving to see both parents and children so involved in the activities and enthusiastic as they learned more about the Sacraments of Initiation. Thank you for inspiring us with your ideas and guidance.
    Marie Gwertzman

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