At your child’s Baptism, the priest said to you,
“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”
(Rite of Baptism 159, p 94)
All of you, who have had your child baptized, answered Yes, to this very important question. What an awesome and rewarding responsibility and commitment.
As parents, you are the primary teachers of your children in the practice of the faith. We read this in the Church’s General Directory for Catechesis, # 255 and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2223. We also read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the following…
*2226 - Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in the faith by witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family Catechesis precedes, accompanies and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have a mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.
This responsibility of formation in the faith of your child however, is not something that you have to do alone. With the support from your parish community, your pastor, your parish catechetical (faith formation) team and the office of Evangelization and Catechesis at the Archdiocese of St. John’s, you will be able to fulfill the undertaking that you committed to at your child’s Baptism.
The aim of the FAMILY CATECHESIS department at the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis is to…
- provide support and formation for parish co-ordinators and catechetical teams through workshops, presentations, talks, discussions, conferences, and faith formation opportunities.
- offer resources for parish catechetical teams to provide for families(i.e. the Born of the Spirit Resource, lending library, videos etc.).
- offer the assistance of the Diocesan Catechetical Office and Director of Family Catechesis who will travel to parishes throughout the Archdiocese to provide support and assistance.
- support and empower parents in their role as primary teachers of their children in the practice of the faith, by providing materials, presentations, opportunities for discussions and workshops to help them in their role.
Formation in the Faith is more than a program; it is a process that encompasses the whole of life. Formation is not only what we teach our children and what they know, it is more importantly how we as families develop our personal relationship with Jesus, and live that in our lives.
Birth to School Age
From Infancy to School Age it is important, to nurture the foundations in faith and to help the child grow in the Spiritual life.
This is accomplished through…
- the nurturing environment of the home through the love of parents
- the love and care of family
- the teaching of prayer (Our Father, Grace, Hail Mary etc.)
- the witness of everyday family life
- the telling of stories, especially Scripture Stories
- the faith and worship of the community
At the age of 3-5 when a child’s ego is still forming, formation (catechesis) also affirms and celebrates the wonder and awe of God’s creation. Catechesis honours the natural, intuitive religious sense of the child as they discover the holiness of being human.
At this time formation includes…
- introducing Jesus as the expression of Fatherly Care and Love of God on whom we depend for all things, and whose love is experienced in the love of their family
- introducing the child to the Easter and Christmas narratives from Scripture as well as through story books
- introducing the child to the Church’s simple forms of prayer
- introducing the child’s to the primary symbols of our Christian faith
- living that faith with the child through actions and deeds
School Age Children
When the home becomes the center of passing on our faith, faith is not just another subject on a school schedule but something that is to be lived everyday.
Once the child has reached school age it is recommended that they be a part of a family faith resource that offers support from the parish community, pastor and the Catechetical team of your parish.