Family Catechesis, Adult Faith Formation, and Combatting the “Drop-Off” Mentality

Perhaps the biggest challenge that I hear catechetical leaders and catechists talk about is reaching the parents of children in religious education programs. Over the past half-century or so, the Church has done a very effective job of training parents to drop off their kids at religious education classes so that “we”—those involved in the parish catechetical program—can teach them the Catholic faith. Years ago, when families and communities reinforced Catholic values, teachings, and practices, […]

Praying with Families in the Classroom

Prayer is essential for a relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the most important responsibilities we have as catechists is to help our students develop a life of prayer. I encourage my students to find ways to pray with their families, and to facilitate that I invite parents and younger siblings to be part of our prayer circle at the end of each class. While children haven’t yet learned to be self-conscious about prayer, parents […]

Fostering Communication with Parents

As catechists, we want to partner with parents as closely as possible on their child’s faith formation journey, but we are often frustrated with the lack of interaction we have with the parents of those we teach. Recently, I received the following question from a catechist named Susanne: “Any tried and true ways to get information to and from parents of third graders? I find paper notes left behind in class, folders never coming back […]

Supporting Parents When Children Are Preparing for the Sacraments

Perhaps the question I am asked most when I’m on the road giving presentations is, “What can we do to get parents more involved?” Even Pope Francis issued a call for parents to “come out of exile” to educate their children. From start to finish—from the first day that parents bring their children to religious education until the day they complete their formal formation—we should be speaking to parents, not about how they can pitch […]

Encouraging Family Mass Attendance One Family at a Time

Those of us who serve in the ministry of catechesis know the disconnect that exists between religious education and families who do not attend Sunday Mass. How do we get parents who drop off their kids at faith formation classes but do not attend Mass into church on Sunday? We can try gimmicks, requirements, scolding, and guilt, but the only thing that will get families into the pews is conversion. I’d like to share one […]

How to Include Parents in Faith Formation Through Community-Building Family Nights

How do we involve parents in faith formation? This age-old question seems to be getting harder and harder to answer. We seem to live in a “drag, drive, and drop off” culture when it comes to parental involvement in our faith formation programs. We use phrases like “create a culture of expectation,” “invite, welcome, and include,” and “mandate, require, and coerce” when talking about our efforts to include busy parents. But how do we effectively […]

Getting Families Involved in the Classroom with Show-and-Tell

One day last spring, I was hanging out in the lobby of our parish center, as I often do when classes end for the day. It was 5:00 P.M., and some of the parents had spent the entire hour waiting for their children by relaxing in one of our chairs, reading a book to pass the time. Others had just arrived, having run a quick errand since dropping off their children an hour earlier. This […]

Parent-Teen Date Night

Editor’s note: This summer, we will be highlighting success stories from the field. Let’s share our stories of what works to inspire each other to great things in faith formation ministries! Today, Megan Arteaga tells us about Parent-Teen Date Night in youth ministry. As youth ministers, we want more parental involvement. We want more parents as adult leaders; we want more parents driving carpools; we want more parents as chaperones; heck, we’d be happy with […]

Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About!

Catechists are always looking for ways to get parents talking with their kids about what they learned in faith formation. Here’s a simple idea I came up with that can help you to review the main points of your lesson and to provide parents with something they can ask their kids about when they pick them up. It’s a half sheet of paper that you can distribute to kids near the end of class. Have […]

Four Ideas for Engaging Parents in Faith Formation

While there is often agreement among catechists that parental involvement in their children’s faith journey is essential, it can often be quite challenging to actually encourage and engage parents in the process. The business of family life, the idea that the teaching of the faith is a role reserved for the classroom teacher, DRE, or pastor, and the fact that this level of involvement may not have been required in parish programs in the past […]

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