So, what does Phase Three look like?
Continue to pray, pray, pray! By this point, praying without ceasing should be your habit! 🙂
Recruit classroom catechists for the once-per-month gathering. This can be tricky. Put announcements into the bulletin. Post fliers in the Church, on your door even. Call former catechists, current or former teachers. Parents themselves can be a great catechists. Some parents like the idea of being able to teach their children, especially when it comes to things like first reconciliation and communion.
Train catechists. This is sadly a neglected aspect in most parish catechetical programs. Catechists need to be trained. They need to be spiritually nourished. They need the basics of classroom management, how to use different learning styles, etc. In other words, talk to an elementary ed teacher to get ideas or search online. They need to know your expectations, parish policy and procedures, as well as you need to be there constantly to support, encourage, and train them to be better.
Hold a kick-off/information session for parents. In short, explain the program if it hasn’t already been explained, make sure parents know who their child’s teacher will be and where the class will be held, answer questions, and be sure to get father to have the parents renew either their marriage vows or the promise that they made at their child’s baptism. For much more on this, go to the Family Formation Coordinator’s Manual. Do not for one minute underestimate the importance of the kickoff and especially the renewal of marriage or baptism vows. Do it every year. It renews and re-energizes the parents every time giving parents the grace to be their children’s primary educators.
Implement the program parish-wide as the only option for religious education. If you are truly practicing what you are preaching you will realize that the time will come when the only way to do catechesis in the parish is to do family catechesis. Again this happens in God’s time, but it is the ultimate goal. If you have two competing programs running against each other, one family catechesis and the other not, for any extended period of time, especially when one touts itself as being THE way to catechize based on the teachings of the Church, you are sending a mixed message. Family catechesis, and ultimately Family Formation, won’t be fully effective unless you live up to what you are preaching.
Encourage your families! Your role should be much more of a cheerleader than it ever has been in the past. If you are excited they will be. Be there to support, encourage, and call parent’s on to be the best they can be.
Lastly, watch for the blessings as family faith formation becomes a way of life!
God bless you and your parish. We are praying for you and that the Holy Spirit bring great fruit to all your efforts.
Yours in Christ,