Next Sunday we will begin religious education classes for the children in our parish. Let me take this opportunity to share with you a few thoughts about the importance of this program for our children, our families and for Santa Sophia parish. One day a woman went to her priest and asked him, “Father, when do I start teaching catechism to my son?” The priest responded by asking the woman how old her son was. The woman said that he was five years old. The priest replied, “You have wasted five years.” The point is, of course, that religious education for children must begin at an early age. Parents are the primary teachers of religious education to their children. When I look back on my childhood days, I remember that there were no religious education programs available then which were as organized as the ones we have now. Today, our children are fortunate to have a well-organized curriculum and a committed team of teachers and helpers to teach them. I am proud of our staff, teachers, and helpers here at our parish who have done a great job of organizing a wonderful program for our children.
Parents play a crucial role in the formation of faith for their children. Children learn their earliest lessons in the context of family life. Therefore, parents should bear in mind the power of their example and ask themselves constantly if their day-to-day actions reflect a Christ-like lifestyle. Some ways of fostering a Christ-like lifestyle at home include: praying together, participating at Sunday Mass as a family, showing interest in and enthusiasm for what your child is learning in Sunday school by talking to them and asking them questions to find out if your child is learning, and helping your child to learn the basic prayers and other foundational material about their faith. The organized class time is unfortunately too short to accomplish everything that your child needs to learn. Parents actualize and reinforce the lessons your children learn in school by incorporating a Christ-like lifestyle into your family’s everyday life.
We have a wonderful program in place here at our parish. Through the religious education program we seek to foster and achieve the following goals:
- Know and obtain a deeper understanding of the Gospel
- Cultivate a personal encounter and commitment to Jesus Christ
- Have active and prayerful participation in Mass and cultivation of personal prayer
- Learn and become familiar with the rich traditions and practices of the Church
- Understand the Gospel values and concern for the least and the lost
- Become acquainted with the lives and works of major saints
In order to achieve these goals, we will be using various textbooks. We begin catechesis with our preschoolers ages 3-5, using Seeds and Kindergarten using Allelui. For the first to the seventh grade we will be using, “Alive in Christ,” published by Our Sunday Visitor. Each chapter has a story from scripture and the life story of a saint. For the eighth grade we will be using, “Faith Fusion: Knowing, Loving, and Serving Christ in the Catholic Church.” For Confirmation Level I we will be using “Teen Catechism” and Level II will be using “Confirmed in the Spirit,” published by Loyola Press. These texts will be augmented by video presentations and group discussions. This program is carefully designed to prepare our teens for the Sacrament of Confirmation and enable them to have a personal encounter with Christ.
As usual, classes are on Sundays between Masses. Registration forms are available online and also at the Catechetical Ministry Office. The office can also mail you a registration form upon request. Recognizing the importance of this program, I, as a pastor, promise to be actively involved in the program by visiting the classes regularly and discussing and reviewing the program with parents and teachers. We have skillful teachers this year, and we also will have a Transitional Deacon, Raymond Philip. He will be visiting classes frequently and will be closely associated with the Confirmation program. I am looking forward to a wonderful year of faith formation for our children. Please keep our children in your prayers.