Archive for the ‘DRE & Faith Formation Coordinators’ category

The home that makes a difference

May 8, 2017

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I think it’s fairly safe to assume that most Family Formation parents are very interested in raising their children to be adults with a strong commitment to Christ and the Church He established.  If that describes you, I think you’ll be interested in this landmark National Study of Youth and Religion by Dr. Christian Smith.  I’ll share a few of the standout quotes here:

  • the single greatest predictor of emerging adults’ eventual level of religious commitment was the religiosity of their parents.
  • of the most religious quartile of NSYR (National Study of Youth and Religion) young adults ages 24-29 (individuals whose religious attitudes Smith had been tracking since high school) an impressive 82% had parents who reported each of the following: that their family regularly talked about religious topics in the home, that faith was “very important” to them, and that they themselves regularly were involved in religious activities. By comparison, only 1% of the least religious quartile of Smith’s young adults had parents who reported this combination of religious attitudes and practices. Thus, according to the NSYR, the single most decisive difference between Millennials who remained religiously committed into adulthood and those who didn’t was the degree of religiousness exhibited by their parents.
  • The decisive criterion between these latter two categories, however, was not simply whether parents were religiously devout or practicing, but rather whether they considered living Catholically and forming their children religiously to be central dimensions of their general task of parenting. For parents who held this belief, the Catholic faith was not something their family occasionally “did,” but who they were. Nor was religion a vesture of ethnic or ancestral identity merely to be outwardly observed while remaining interiorly unconsidered, as if the fostering of such engagement in their children could be “outsourced” to clergy, CCD instructors, youth ministers, or other religious professionals. Rather, parents were generally the falling or rising point of their children’s own prospects for observing an adult faith.
  • Why is the household so important? It is in the home that, amidst a world of vast ideological and religious pluralism, of unlimited consumer choices and lifestyles, children receive a definitive orientation to the world and specific values for navigating it. The diminishment of ethnic and neighborhood Catholicism over the last fifty years has now caused the home, a relatively more isolated entity, to become the dominant religious subculture amid the current conditions. The home is the crucible where religious identity is primarily cultivated, or neglected. Whether they realize it or not, parents have been thrust center stage.
  • if Catholicism becomes a profound dimension of children’s inbred identity and habitual manner of encountering the world, it becomes increasingly unlikely that they would be able to exit Catholicism without ever engaging it seriously.
  • To put it simply, the more Catholic “stuff” to which children are exposed, the less likely they are to be able to envision their lives in isolation from the practices and relationships that being Catholic entails. The regular exposure to such practices and the family’s long-term dedication to them is the most effective way to guarantee their relevance to an emerging adult’s fundamental decisions about which values and obligations to prioritize in their lives. Furthermore, the family’s collective commitment to such practices cements the bonds between family members and also clarifies the intimate values which animate and suffuse those bonds. It is desirable that the love which joins members of the Catholic family together be inseparable from the religious dimension of the family’s communal life.
  • Secondly, effective Catholic parents tended to engage their children frequently in practices of religious conversation
  • a household in which religion is discussed openly and frequently is a household in which religion is neither compartmentalized nor swept under the rug out of awkwardness.
  • It is a crucial task of religious parenting to ensure that children are active participants in the life of the local Catholic community and that the respective vitalities of parish and home are mutually interpenetrating.
  • We must not underestimate the power of the family to leave a profound religious impression on children, one that lasts into adulthood.


The full article can be found in Issue #3.2 of The Catechetical Review.  As a subscriber, I have permission to share “for catechetical purposes.”  Email me if you would like the full text of the article.
This article is a summary of a soon to be released report from University of Notre Dame sociologist Dr. Christian Smith’s project entitled: “Parental Practices and Cultures of Faith Transmission to Children: Context, Commitments and Outcomes.”  A report from his research associate, Justin Bartkus, on the project’s findings specifically as they concern the handing on of Catholicism from parents to children will be entitled, “Ask Your Father and He Will Tell You: A Report on the State of American Catholic Religious Parenting”; and released soon through the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.


On the road again!

January 15, 2016

On the RoadJoin us on January 28 as we present Family Formation at a workshop hosted by the Diocese of Sioux City, at Sacred Heart Church in Spencer, Iowa.

Priests, deacons, directors of religious education/faith formation, youth ministers and parents are encouraged and welcome to attend.

This will be an opportunity to learn more about how to encourage parents to be the primary educators of their children in the faith, said Linsey Hoard, assistant director of youth catechesis and evangelization.

Parishes in the Diocese of Sioux City that are using Family Formation include All Saints in Le Mars, St. Cecelia’s in Algona and St. Mary’s in Larchwood (first in the diocese to use the program).

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions recently and it has had a resurgence,” said Hoard. “I wanted to have them come and give their presentation. If they have questions or concerns, they can ask the representatives.”

The workshop will conclude with lunch. To RSVP for lunch email Hoard at and read the complete article at the Catholic Globe.

Bringing the World Meeting of Families to your parish

June 18, 2015


Family Formation is very excited about the upcoming World Meeting of Families and our creative Core Team has been brainstorming ideas to bring it to life for our families here in Minnesota.   Besides the obvious connections with family life, we are looking forward to the opportunity to help our families get better connected with the Universal Church!

In the interest of sharing ideas, we’d like to get the conversation started by letting you know some of our tentative plans.  We know some of you are working on this too and we would love to hear your ideas as well!

To connect with our brainstorming, open this Parish WMoF ideas document first and then you might also be interested in this WMoF prayer table piece.

UPDATE: More pieces have been added.

Blessings and Victories!

May 4, 2015

ribbonOur last parent meetings for the year were this past Saturday and Monday and as part of our program we had parents gather into small groups to talk about some faith-related victories their families experienced this year.  They then shared with the entire group and I am delighted to be able to share them with you here.

Mass and Adoration

  • Our family is attending Mass more often.
  • We are still using the Mass Kit. [from the October Home Lessons]
  • Our family has been going to adoration more.  We’ve been able to schedule it each week!
  • We’re taking our older children to Adoration and everyone enjoys it!
  • We listen to homilies again on the church website.
  • We’ve been preparing for Mass by looking up the readings ahead of time.
  • We’ve been reading the Mass readings in the car on the way to church.
  • I volunteered to be a Eucharistic Minister.  This has helped our entire family to be more reverent and to pay more attention to what’s going on in the Mass.
  • Church is more relevant for our children.  They can follow along and enjoy church more.
  • This year we are getting through Mass without tantrums or having to pull anyone out to the back!
  • Just getting to church and Family Formation as often as we did was a victory for us!
  • We’ve been able to attend regular daily Mass as a family.
  • We started talking more about Jesus and the Eucharist.
  • Our kids have been helping each other mark their Bibles with colored ribbons in preparation for Sunday Mass.
  • We’re going to church more.
  • We are finally attending Mass regularly.

Prayer and Scripture

  • We’ve been consistent in our morning prayers.
  • We pray with our children at night and it’s nice to see what they’ve picked up.
  • We’ve been scheduling time for worship and adoration with candles and praise songs on Friday nights.
  • We’ve been better at a more focused prayer time this year.
  • We set up a family altar for the first time.  This has led to more family prayer.
  • Holy Week and extra prayers have been such a blessing for us this year!
  • We participated in a prayer meeting against abortion and Planned Parenthood.
  • We’ve gotten better at praying the Rosary.  This seems to be leading to a deeper faith even in our younger kids.
  • This year we found that Family Formation gave more structure to our family faith and prayer time.  It was focused family time.
  • When we couldn’t get to Stations of the Cross at church this Lent, we did it at home.
  • My older kids got better at praying the Rosary and they’re getting the younger ones involved in it too.
  • My kids had an increased willingness to work on Scripture memory this year.
  • My 6th grader wants to continue to read the daily readings even though we’ll be done with Family Formation.
  • We made a prayer center and started praying the Rosary in English even though it was difficult as English is not our native language.
  • We started bedtime prayer.
  • We’ve been reading a chapter of the Bible together every week.
  • We established a routine to read their picture Bible every morning.
  • We’re reading a daily verse via an app.  (Kids LOVE technology!)
  • We’ve established a family prayer time each night.
  • We’ve been praying travel prayers since last Lent.
  • We started praying a couple’s Rosary now and then.
  • Our 3-year-old has been leading a decade of a family Rosary.
  • We started saying prayers before meals.
  • Saying prayers at night has become a routine this year.
  • We’re praying together more.  Also, my kids are independently leading prayer when they hear/see police, ambulance or fire trucks.

New Traditions and Celebrations

  • We’ve moved closer to church for more fellowship.
  • We’ve been involved in more church activities this year than ever before.
  • We celebrated kids’ feast days using the red “You Are Special” plate.
  • Our older kids have left home with a solid faith foundation.
  • Feast day activities have become traditions for us this year.
  • We’ve been reading the lives of Saints and performing skits about what we learned.
  • We started a new Lent tradition of a Good Deeds jar.
  • Our faith is stronger!

Learning more and going deeper:

  • Deeper questions are being asked by our kids as we do the lessons together.
  • My kids listen to the Saint CDs over and over.
  • We’re bringing holy water to day care.
  • We figured out that doing our Home Lessons right after dinner is a perfect time for us.
  • We completed this year’s Mass Challenge and found it helped us participate better during Mass.
  • The Holy Spirit is really leading our kids!  They have great questions about the Faith.
  • The CDs are sparking great conversation from our “deep” 7-year-old.
  • We are having strong spiritual discussions during our Family PowWow time.  We’ve been looking up more teachings in the Catechism.
  • We went to a vocations open house.  Our kids now know more about what it means to be a nun.
  • We loved learning together as a family!
  • As parents, we have been able to re-educate ourselves in the faith.
  • We’re only two lessons behind!
  • We had some family friends come over to help teach Family Formation lessons.
  • Our kids learned the mysteries of the Rosary this year.
  • Our 7-year-old learned the Lord’s Prayer.
  • There’s a lot of talk at meal times about the cross on our table.
  • Our whole family is coming to Family Formation this year.

A few families took a Faith-based vacation/pilgrimage:

  • We took a family pilgrimage to several places in Wisconsin.  Instead of bringing Disney movies for the trip, we watched Marian-themed movies and The Ten Commandments.  It was great!
  • We took a trip to the Shrine of the True Cross in Texas and also visited many religious sites in San Antonio. 
  • On our family vacation we prayed the Rosary each day and the kids understand it better than ever.

And several mentioned other resources that have been a blessing to their family:

  • EWTN kids’ channel
  • Holy Heroes CDs 
  • Schoenstatt family groups
  • Watching the AD show together

I really want to thank everyone for sharing.  This started out as a way to use a few minutes before the Living Rosary and it turned out to be one of the best things we’ve done this year!  It was so encouraging to hear all the creative ways your families are growing in Faith.  Glory to God and hat’s off to all of you parents for your good work this year!  It’s a tremendous blessing to work with you.

Leading with Beauty: Kneeling Before the Majesty of God

March 10, 2015

This month’s topic is Kneeling Before the Majesty of God and while I could recommend any number of paintings which feature God in all His heavenly glory, I think I’ll go with this one featuring his hidden earthly glory instead.

This is Saint Norbert worshiping Our Lord, truly present in this ornate monstrance.  Norbert was a worldly man who had a very dramatic conversion story and went on to found a religious order that continues to this day.  One of the other things Saint Norbert is known for is defending the Eucharist against heresy and disbelief, and one of his attributes* is to be pictured with a monstrance.

I think the value this piece would hold on a classroom prayer table is this:

  • Norbert’s obvious devotion.  His posture, focus, position of his hands – all are expressions of love for He who is before him.
  • The beauty of this particular monstrance.  We offer our best to God, and some craftsman (and this artist, Marten Pepijn), certainly did that, also as a sign of their devotion to God.
  • And finally, there are details you can cover such as:
    • What is a monstrance? (A sacred vessel with a glass opening through which the Sacred Host can be seen.  From a Latin word meaning to show.)
    • Why is that lamp burning just to the right of the monstrance?  (That is a sanctuary lamp, required by canon law to be lit wherever the Blessed Sacrament – consecrated hosts – are reserved, to remind believers of their sacred presence.)
    • Where can we find the Eucharist in our church?  (Answers vary slightly with each church, but it would be most typical to find the Blessed Sacrament reserved in your church’s tabernacle and in an Adoration Chapel.)  Make sure your students know where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in your church and remind them of the proper signs of devotion and respect.  (genuflecting, sign of the cross, reverent behavior, etc.)
    • How can we find where the Eucharist is another Catholic church? (Look for the sanctuary lamp to point the way.)

*In art, an attribute is an object that identifies someone, most commonly referring to objects held by saints.  (e.g. Saint Peter is often identified as holding keys, Saint Joseph by carpenter tools and a staff with lilies, etc.)

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

Thanks to the Web Gallery of Art for their truly remarkable collection of sacred art!

Leading with Beauty: The Ten Commandments

February 12, 2015

The classroom topic for March is the Ten Commandments and this work by Philippe de Champaigne (1648 AD) would be a perfect piece for classroom prayer tables.

The interesting thing about this piece is that everything is so clear; almost photograph-like!  Moses looks like someone you’d meet in real life and the tablet is clear enough to easily read.  That sends the message that reading/knowing the Commandments is every bit as valuable as the beauty of the art itself.

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

The 2014-15 Map is Updated

November 19, 2014

With 60 new parishes this year!

Click on the map link on the sidebar to find yours.

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