I was at a city-wide meeting of catechists and religious educators earlier this month when one of the directors approached me and commented on the participation of parents in the Faith Formation process at Nativity. She asked how Nativity does it? How do we keep the parents involved in their child’s faith formation? She wondered how this cooperation of parish and parent could work in raising a faith filled child?
No other Catholic parish I know of in the surrounding area has a Parent Partnership process like we do! At Nativity both parish and parents work together in passing on the faith. We are so proud of our parents who take seriously their role in being their child’s first teacher of the faith. As banner I love puts it, “If you are a Catholic, it’s because someone loved you into it!”
Parents pray. All parents gather with their children in the worship space of Nativity each Wednesday night before Faith Formation classes begin. Together we pray, sing and hear the gospel scripture proclaimed. This 7 minute service sets the tone for an evening of faith sharing.
Parents teach. Parents take on a “team effort” in teaching children in the faith. Each elementary grade level has a group of parents (or grandparents) who share the Good News of the gospel each week. Our parents are our catechists. They explore with their classroom of children what the church believes and teaches as well as “breaking open” the gospel message.
Parents and children become “learners” together.
Parents are serious about developing a firm foundation to get started in a lifelong process of developing a well-built faith. During this coming year we have scheduled parent seminar sessions on the book entitled, A Well-Built Faith by Joe Paprocki. This book makes it easy and fun for parents to know what they believe and to feel confident in sharing those beliefs. In addition, a monthly newsletter, “At Home with our Faith”, gives some practical wisdom for busy parents. We reinforce what the Catholic Church teaches when referring to the home as “the domestic church”.
Parents participate in teaching at home the preparation phase for their child’s Sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Eucharist. They uncover the question of “What Does Growing Up Catholic Really Mean?” Parents, along with their child, participate in parish scheduled retreats explaining why we do what we do in the sacraments.
Parents don’t give up. Parents realize that even though they may have had “no idea of what they were undertaking” when they had their child baptized, they still know that day by day parents have an opportunity to lead their child a little deeper into a relationship with Christ. Parents make the effort and Christ will take care of the rest!