Family Catechesis at St. Barnabas: Preparing for Lent

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Our next family catechesis session at St. Barnabas takes place on February 4, just ten days before Lent begins. (Ash Wednesday is February 14!) So it makes sense that our topic for that day will be Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. Here are a few thoughts about this upcoming session:

  • This will be the first time I’m with the parents since December when we covered Advent. Our January session was a safe-environment session for the children only.
  • I got a kick out of being recognized by a few St. Barnabas parents at my grandchildren’s pre-school Christmas program back in December! Several parents spotted me and warmly greeted me as “the guy from St. Barnabas!”
  • Patrick, our catechetical leader, reminded me that the pastor, Fr. Donovan, is eager to participate in an upcoming session, so, if he is indeed available on February 4, I plan to assign a segment to him.
  • The theme for this session is “Making Space for Jesus in Our Lives.”
  • We’ll begin the intergenerational portion by talking about what it takes to break a bad habit or develop a good one.
  • We’ll introduce the three Lenten disciplines—prayer, fasting,  and almsgiving—as new habits that can help to rearrange our lives and make space for Jesus at the center.
  • After we send the children and catechists off for their session, we’ll work with the parents on the three Lenten disciplines.
    • For prayer, we will introduce parents to the daily Examen and experience the prayer firsthand. We will also talk briefly about praying the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and the Liturgy of the Hours.
    • For fasting, we will reflect on Jesus’ temptation in the desert and how fasting was an exercise that Jesus himself used to focus on what truly fed him. We will also go over some “fasting tips” and strategies for introducing the practice to children.
    • For almsgiving, we will focus on how this practice reminds us that “it’s not about me.” We will then focus on the concept of stewardship and talk about sharing our time, talent, and treasure with others.
  • Next, we will zero in on Holy Week and the Triduum, spending a little bit of time on each of the following:
    • Palm Sunday and the proclamation of the Passion
    • Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washing of feet
    • Good Friday and the veneration of the Cross
    • Holy Saturday and the Blessing of the Fire and celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation.
  • Finally, we will focus on the 50 days of Easter.
  • We’ll conclude by discussing some strategies for practicing the Lenten disciplines as a family.
  • I will use the time before the children and catechists return to pass around a sign-up sheet in hopes that a family or two will invite me into their home to observe them doing a faith formation session with their child(ren).

As always, I’ll let you know how things turn out for this session.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 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

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