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 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!
Sounds great! As a parent, I often show up for a new program and the kids’ leaders don’t know what to do with me — I feel like an awkward extra. This idea of yours, though it takes extra effort on your part, includes the parents in ways they might actually already WANT to be, but don’t feel needed.
Thanks Deborah…you’re absolutely right, the attention given to parents must be intentional and constructive.
This is great. NO, it is AWESOME! What a great approach. I
may steal (borrow) some of your ideas. Thank you
Thanks, Jodie…borrow as needed and let us know how things go and what adaptations you make.
Sounds like a wonderful plan Joe!
Thanks Lillian…the plan continues to develop.
Great idea. Any ideas how to incorporate two languages? Some of our parents speak no English and some speak no Spanish!
Thanks Harriet. Many parishes accommodate more than one language by alternating languages for various prayer parts and Scripture readings, and utilizing a big screen to project the translation.
I think this is wonderful and I hope all
your work will be well received.
I was also wondering if you have a class this
year and what grade will you teach?
Thank you Joe,
Thanks Kate. This year, I am doing adult catechesis at a couple of parishes so I won’t have a specific grade to report on. Instead, I will be reporting on a variety of adult faith formation initiatives.
Wow – sounds wonderful! Let us know how it goes ok?
This is my very first year as Director of Children’s Ministry and would love to do something like that next year!
Thanks Mary! I will certainly keep you updated.
I’ll be curious on how this will go. I wonder if all the families/parents can think of a ritual they did when they were younger.
Great post. Having parent involvement is much needed. I’m in the same place of trying to get parents to realize it needs to be family faith. It’s their job to educate their children and the Parish is a resource to them.
I switched to an on-line model plus family gatherings. I was previously doing classroom model. After I switched over, it started to make me realize I think doing weekly classroom model is doing a dis-service to families. No matter how I tried to get parents involved, they felt entitled to a service of others educating their children. I had a 5th grade parent yell at me that his son didn’t know the Our Father (and the kids say it every class since first grade). What is the parents responsibility? In family gatherings, I regularly hear kids ask to go to Mass and the parents telling their kids no. In the past, when faith was important in the family life classroom model may have made sense. But, with no sense of importance in the family life, it doesn’t work where I am at.
I think parent faith formation is more valuable then anything we do. Once the parents get the faith they will start teaching their kids the faith. That’s when the Parish can start becoming a resource!
Thanks so much Jen and especially for sharing about your experience. I’d love to hear more about what you mean by an “on-line model.” How does that work? What’s involved and what materials/resources are you using?