As many of you know this past year in Religious Education St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s moved to a family-based model call “A Family of Faith” for the elementary grades, except for 2nd of course. Some have asked why the switch when our Religious Education program was well established.
First, parents are to be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. The new family-based program provides support to the parents so that they can understand the faith and hand it on to their children. Second, we have been declining in the number of children in the Religious Education program. This coming year there will be approximately 26 students in grades kindergarten through sixth. Thirty years ago there were 101 students in those grades. Today most of the grades have 3 to 4 students, but some students do not attend class with any consistency making it difficult for the teacher. Third, it is getting more difficult to have people commit to being teachers. Again, the busyness of families. Fourth, it is my hope that those families who choose to participate in “A Family of Faith” will be renewed in faith and will participate deeply in the sacraments, especially the Mass, and become involved in parish life.
I know that people are busy and the demands on “Family Time” are varied. “A Family of Faith” program asked parents to commitment to a 90-minute session once a month for 9 months. That is 13 ½ hours out of the year plus whatever time to interact one on one with their child as together they complete the two monthly lessons. We had twenty-four families who were invited to participate, of them I would say a third were there for all the sessions, a third came occasionally, and a third came only to one or two sessions. I don’t know what the future holds but those things which we were able to do with a hundred students might not work so well with twenty-six students.
Whenever something new is tried there will be rewards and challenges. I pray that “A Family of Faith” will bring many blessings to families and the parishes.
Blessings, Father Dooley