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We Gather in Prayer Kit Grades K–Adult Buy Now
My Reconciliation and Prayer Book Ages 7–9 View Details | Buy Now
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Creemos Identidad católica Grades K–6 View Details | Buy Now
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Una sola fe, un solo Señor Grades 7–Adult View Details | Buy Now
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Creer • Celebrar • Vivir Reconiliación Primaria Ages 7 and 8 View Details | Buy Now
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Creer • Celebrar • Vivir Reconciliación y Eucharisita Intermedio Ages 9 and 10 View Details | Buy Now
Creer • Celebrar • Vivir Confirmación-Restauración del orden sacramental Ages 7–9 View Details | Buy Now
Creemos y celebramos Bautismo View Details | Buy Now
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Mi Reconciliación y libro de oración Ages 7–9 View Details | Buy Now
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The Compass Bible for Catholic Teens Buy Now
My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories Buy Now
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Everything About Parish Ministry I Wish I Had Known Buy Now
Becoming a Parish of Mercy Buy Now
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YOUCAT Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church Buy Now
Catechism of the Catholic Church Buy Now
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults Buy Now
General Directory of Catechesis Buy Now
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April 1, 2020

Family Faith Formation that Works

Impactful family programs with the best resources are what every parish needs and wants. In his on demand webinar Family Faith Formation: Engaging and Building Capacity, John Collins will delve into ways to put “family” into “Catholic faith formation” by equipping parishes with resources and engaging and enabling parents to form their children in the Catholic faith. Watch to discover creative ways to engage families and accompany them on a family faith journey. Prepare for the webinar by downloading a free Family Faith Formation Force Field Activity.

John Collins will delve into ways to put “family” into “faith formation” by equipping parishes with resources and engaging and enabling parents to form their children in the Catholic faith.

Everybody’s Looking for a Family Program

“We’re looking for a family program.” Inevitably, I hear this everywhere I go as I travel around the country. It seems to be what parishes, pastors and catechetical leaders are looking for these days. Yet, if I were to ask everyone to explain what they think a family program is or is supposed to be, I would probably get a different answer from each person. What I might not hear is how can I make my program a family program? That’s the key. By understanding the challenges and knowing how to really support family faith, you can make family faith formation work in your parish!

 

By understanding the challenges and knowing how to really support family faith, you can make family faith formation work in your parish!

 

Understanding the Challenges

Engaging today’s families is often named as a challenge by parishes. Here are some of the hurdles we can overcome with creative thinking in family faith formation.

Challenge: “Faith Formation Isn’t a Priority”

Why isn’t faith formation a priority for so many families? The simple answer is that many did not experience the daily religious practices at home or the witness of parents when they were young. They might not have seen, heard, and did religious practices at home. For these parents, it’s not an aspect of family life or a priority for them now. That’s not pointing fingers, but realistically looking at the current situation and the implications when thinking of a family program. Today, how can we expect parents share what they don’t know with their own children?

Challenge: “It’s the Parish’s Responsibility”

The perception by many parents is that parish programs are primarily responsible for the faith formation of their children, and not their responsibility as the domestic Church.

Shifting the Thinking

How do we shift the thinking? I say slowly and deliberately, by building the capacity of parents to be the primary educators in the faith of their children. We need to rethink what we do to bring parents into the faith formation program with their children, so they can learn, along with their children, what they don’t know themselves.

Catechetical leaders need to rethink how they do what they do for faith formation models and engage both students and families in faith formation, like:

  • providing different options and models for families,
  • engaging both students and families in faith formation, and
  • offering family events.

Catechetical leaders must think differently about what it means to engage parents and families and build a partnership in the faith formation journey. It takes time, it takes creativity, it takes a willingness to “do things differently” for an improved outcome.

We have certainly tried our best, despite the challenges we face, to educate our children in the faith through our religious education programs and classes. But we haven’t done the same in educating our parents in the faith. We need to bring them into the picture—with their children—learning the same things as their children. It makes common sense: parents need faith formation too!

Sharing the Responsibility 

Engaging families means sharing and shifting responsibility for the faith formation of their children. It doesn’t mean just passing it off. We can gradually release responsibility to parents by doing it together so that, in the end, they can do it themselves. We need to transition parents to be the primary educators of their children in the faith.

Accompanying Families

In a speech prepared by Pope Francis but not delivered, he wrote, “Let us not forget the beauty of walking with the people . . . I encourage you to go out to meet others, to open doors and reach out to families. . . .  In particular, it will be beautiful to accompany families in the challenge to generate and educate their children.”    (Pastoral Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Pompeii and Napoli, March 3, 2015)

This is what we need to do: accompany families, walk with them where they are right now. They may not be where we would like them to be when it comes to sharing faith with their children, but if we form them while we provide family faith formation programs, we can help build their capacity to be faith educators of their children.

Get Ready to Make Your Family Faith Formation Program Work

Prepare for the Family Faith Formation: Engaging and Building Capacity webinar by downloading a free Family Faith Formation Force Field Activity.

Download a free Family Faith Formation Force Field Activity.

Download Now

No, it’s not difficult or technical. It’s a reflection activity. Think about your program or classroom. Force Field #1 asks you to think about what you do, and what efforts, initiatives, practices, and behaviors support engaging parents and families in your program or classroom. Force Field #2 asks you to again think about what you do, and what efforts, initiatives, practices, and behaviors may be obstacles to engaging parents and families in your program or classroom. Complete the exercise before watching the On Demand webinar!