This weekend the Church celebrates Catechetical Sunday, commissioning the catechists of our parish for children's and youth faith formation. If you aren't called to be a catechist, or don't have kids in school you might think, "What's that got to do with me? " The answer: A lot!
No matter what your role is in our parish right now, you are still called to help others become better disciples of Christ. All of us are. In fact, that is a main mission of every parish! A big part of how this happens is though faith formation programs, and these programs becomes better and more effective with more support. You don't have to be an expert religion teacher though! Here are seven simple ways you can support faith formation in our parish right now:
Pray for us! This maybe the simplest way to help, but it is also the most important! I know many of you do pray for faith formation programs often, and I sincerely thank you for it! We would greatly appreciate it if you would consider becoming a faith formation 'prayer warrior' and in addition to including us in your regular payers, take a few minutes specifically during faith formation classes (Wednesdays 5:30-7:00) or youth group events to stop and pray for the young people of our parish, the success of the program, and that we can accomplish what God wants us to.
Talk to a Teen. With our recent parish merger, you are probably starting to see a lot of new young faces in the pews and doing things like altar serving and serving as greeters. Stop them after mass or when you see them at parish events and say hi! Introduce yourself and learn their name, school, and something about them - and say hi the next time you see them too, and the next! Ask about their involvement in youth group and parish activities, also. Teens who have several adults in their parish take interest in them are much more likely to continue attending church into their 20s an beyond and become active in their parish. Also, for the kids and teens you already know: be interested and encouraging about what they are doing in faith formation and their faith lives in general.
Volunteer as a Catechist or Aide... or anything else! We are consistently in need of people to help with faith formation classes and youth group. Catechists and chaperones for events are needed, but there are other ways that you can volunteer as well! How? In whatever ways you have talents or express your faith! Do you play the guitar? Come lead youth group in some praise and worship songs. Do you visit nursing homes? Help us set up a time when we can visit too. Do you like to talk and listen to teens? Join youth for some group discussions. You get the idea - if you have a talent, have an issue you are passionate about, or a great way to share your faith, let me know and we can find a way for you to get involved!
Snack Donations. Hospitality is a very important part of anyone's experience in church and kids and teens are certainly no exception. Having a snack and juice box at faith formation or pop and cookies at youth group makes students feel more comfortable, welcome, and cared about, which makes learning happen more easily. Plus, communities naturally form over food, and incorporating young people into our Catholic community is just as much a goal as learning the facts of our faith!
Support our activities. We appreciate it so much when you support youth group's fundraisers and collections, such as our Christmas CD sale and our plastic bag drive (we have been overwhelmed with how much plyarn we have to make... and that is great!) With the majority of money we raise, we turn around and use it for another good cause, such as getting Christmas presents for those in need, and if we are raising it for something we want to do ourselves, we will be sure to be clear about it!
Involve us in your group's activities. We'd love to be involved in other parish happenings - in appropriate ways. Don't hesitate to ask me if you have an idea of how faith formation students could be incorporated into what you're planning and we can see if there would be a good role for them!
Continue your own Faith Formation! We often think that faith formation means elementary, and maybe high school aged kids, but in reality, it should never end. Our faith is "ever ancient, ever new", so there is always something more to learn, even if you've been Catholic 50, 60, 70 years. A group meeting to watch and discuss Fr. Robert Barron's "Catholicism Series" began last week, a bible study is beginning soon, monthly movie nights are continuing, and a parish library is beginning to take shape. Join one of these groups or pick up a book and continue to deepen your knowledge and love of our faith and our Lord!
How are you going to get involved?