The Key to Effective Family Catechesis: Adult Faith Formation

Finding God Family Catechesis tools

Recently, I shared information about our exciting new Family Catechesis programs from Loyola Press. I can’t emphasize enough that the key to an effective family catechesis program is the formation of the parents and that, if you are taking the time to form parents well as part of a family catechesis approach, you have “killed two birds with one stone”—you have not only introduced a new model for children’s faith formation, you have successfully implemented a rock-solid adult faith formation program in your parish!

My friend, Patrice Spirou, Assistant Director of Religious Education in the Office of Formation and Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, once commented to me that, when she successfully implemented a family catechesis approach in her parish some years ago, she also succeeded in creating the largest adult faith formation program in her diocese, since she had over 600 parents attending monthly formation sessions!

In my mind, the adult formation piece is the linchpin of a successful family catechesis program. That’s why I’ve painstakingly created 28 adult faith formation segments—seven PowerPoint presentations (with scripts) per year over a four-year cycle—as the centerpiece of our Loyola Press Family Catechesis program. For the Finding God program, the seven monthly adult faith presentations cover the following themes:

  • God
  • Jesus
  • Church
  • Sacraments
  • Morality
  • Advent/Christmas
  • Lent/Easter

Over a four-year cycle, each of those themes is revisited with a different focus and emphasis so that parents are receiving faith formation that is wide-ranging, in-depth, and connected with daily living. For example, the topics under the category of “God” consist of the following:

  • Year One—Discovering What You Want Out of Life: God’s Invitation and Our Response
  • Year Two—In Search of the Truth: God Reveals Himself to Us (Revelation/Scripture)
  • Year Three—Finding Your Source of Energy: The Relational God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Communio/Trinity)
  • Year Four—Filling the Empty Space Within: Prayer and Spirituality

In her book, Developing Disciples of Christ (The Effective Catechetical Leader series), Julianne Stanz reminds us that we hear the following message when preparing for takeoff on an airline: “In the event of an emergency, please secure your own oxygen mask first before attempting to help anyone else.” She explains that this seems counter-intuitive, especially for parents who instinctively move to tend to their children first:

When flight attendants provide instructions before a flight, they remind us that in the case of a loss of cabin pressure, adults should secure their own oxygen masks first so that they will be able to assist children in securing theirs. When it comes to faith formation, the same philosophy should apply: Adults should be tended to first so that they, in turn, can assist their children. If we continue to focus our faith-formation efforts exclusively on child-centered catechesis without attending to the needs of our adults, as a Church we are going to run out of oxygen and render ourselves unable to help anyone grow in faith.

By forming parents in the faith, we are equipping them with what they need to embrace their role as the primary catechists of their children.

Click on the following for more information about our new Family Catechesis programs and their adult faith formation components:

About Joe Paprocki 2173 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 www.catechistsjourney.com.

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