Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered…It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people. (GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS, Paragraph #3).

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out a great family program in Ham Lake, Minnesota where Religious Education is as it should always be – first carried out within the family and secondarily fostered by the parish community.  The Church of St. Paul has over 500 families enrolled in their religious education program called “Family Formation”.  Many home school, Catholic school and public school families participate in this dynamic program.  Here is a brief overview:  Parents and children gather once a month at the parish for about an hour and a half.  Students attend their grade level class and parents stay and attend a parent gathering learning about the same topic their children are learning about in class as well as receiving tips and insights regarding the 3 home lessons that are given for families to do at home over the next 3 weeks.  This program truly puts faith formation back into the hands of the parents.  It also fosters scripture reading, growing in prayer and making faith a normal part of everyday family life.  Check it out at http://familyformation.net.

I’m going to begin it at my parish in the Fall and according to an initial survey and what I’m hearing I think I’ll have about 30 families signing up for Family Formation.  Come Holy Spirit!!!

How do you include families in your Religious Education Program?  I’d love to hear about what you and/or your parish does.

“The family is fundamental because it is the first place where people learn the meaning of life”              ~Pope Benedict XVI

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