When we approach the end of faith formation classes for the year, we can be overwhelmed by a flurry of activity. During this period, our highest priorities are the celebration of the sacraments, planning for the final classes, end-of-year meetings, and looking forward to the next year. Amidst all these priorities—as well as tying up any loose ends—we can easily forget to take a step back and reflect on some of the gifts that are present at this time of the year.
The end of the faith formation year is a great time to share the memories you have made with your students and with one another. I encourage my catechists to close the year with their students by reflecting on everything that they did in their class. It’s amazing to look back at all the discussions, games, skits, projects, and other activities. I do a similar reflection with my catechists at our end-of-year meeting, and I am equally entertained and awed by the vignettes they share from their classrooms. It is a great gift to look back at the ways that God has been present in our parish this year and see God’s grace from other perspectives.
As you share the memories of the year that was, take time to show gratitude. The students, parents, catechists, and pastors all deserve a special thanks for the work they did to support the parish’s faith formation program. Catechists who went the extra mile—as well as those students who begrudgingly came to class—deserve to be thanked for their contributions to discussions, prayers, and activities. While my budget doesn’t allow for me to purchase gifts for everyone who shared their time and talents with the faith formation program, I have found that sending out personalized thank-you notes is a great way to show my gratitude to the people who helped make it a successful year of faith formation. These simple tokens are always appreciated by the recipients.
This is also a great time to get excited about what is to come. I provide each catechist with a link to a YouTube video to share with their students. This video gives them a hint about the theme for their classes next year. The first graders’ eyes light up when they watch short clips like Sophia SketchPad: The Eucharist, and they realize that they are only a year away from their First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Likewise, my fourth graders are entranced by The Seven Sacraments, which introduces them to the sacraments they’ll be studying next year. I share with my catechists the details of what I am planning on adding to our program next year, as well my excitement in our ability to better reach our students and families. These cliffhangers serve as both a hook to bring people back and a way to help ease anxieties about the unknown that they will face in the fall.
The spring can be hectic and exhausting, but it can also be an exciting and hopeful time. Revel in the excitement while it lasts, and thank God for the gifts that he has provided you with this year. The peaceful days of summer are almost upon us. I will continue to pray for you and your program as we all work toward the common goal of forming disciples.
What tips do you have for closing the faith formation year?