This is a powerful paragraph from the Catechism about the role of parents in faith formation:
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. (CCC 2223)
Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents. (CCC 2226)
Too often, however, we give “lip service” to this notion of thinking of parents as their child’s first teacher (catechist) and instead train them to be “chauffeurs” who drop off their children to be formed in faith by others. Pope Francis went as far as to say that parents need to “come out of exile” to embrace their responsibility to educate their children in the faith. In order for this to happen, however, we need to assist, support, and form parents to embrace this role. We do no good by simply wagging our fingers at parents and lamenting their lack of involvement in their child’s faith formation when we have too often done so very little to empower and equip them in the first place.
It is precisely with this idea of empowering and equipping parents that I have dedicated the last four years to developing Loyola Press resources for family catechesis. The concept of family catechesis is not new to the Church as a whole; however, it is new to many parents who are familiar solely with the “drop-off” approach that is used so widely in the U.S.—an approach that is becoming less effective as families and society change and no longer provide the support system for faith formation as they once did. That being said, it is crucial to proceed with care when implementing a family catechesis model. If you plan on moving in this direction for the next catechetical year (2020–21), now is the time to begin gathering information and doing your research. To make that more convenient for you, here are some links to family catechesis resources from Loyola Press.
- Finding God Family Catechesis
- Christ Our Life Family Catechesis
- Moving to a Family Catechesis Model (blog post)
- Tools to Assist Parents in Family Catechesis (blog post)
- Family Catechesis: Telling Parents “You Can Do This!” (blog post)
- The Key to Effective Family Catechesis: Adult Faith Formation (blog post)
- Family Catechesis, Adult Faith Formation, and Combatting the Drop-off Mentality (blog post)
For more assistance, contact your Loyola Press Educational Consultant.