confessionAll too often religious education programs help prepare children for their First Reconciliation but struggle to assist the parents in preparing their children.  They, after all, are the primary educators or might I say     “prepare-rs”.  This year I really wanted to look at our First Reconciliation parent meeting in a different way.  I wanted to touch parents lives so that in return they would be able to impact their children.  I found a very powerful video and showed it (outline below).  I didn’t want the meeting to just be me or someone talking up front, but since all these parents are part of our church family I wanted them to grow together and share their lives together. That is why I then had them interact at tables with small group discussion questions.  Below I have additional details regarding what I did but first and foremost it was about touching the hearts of the parents because if we can engage their hearts and minds it will naturally overflow onto their children.  I was grateful to hear that it was well received and parents were in fact touched by what they experienced.

 

I opened with a prayer and then went right into this video:

Forgiveness Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9J6xOT3Ldw

Then I had parents answer some questions about the video and about how theyprodigal Sonpic
have taught their kids about forgiveness and hope to prepare them as they
prepare their child for their First Reconciliation.

Following the small group discussions our Pastor spoke for about 5 minutes encouraging parents and then I showed the following video:

Sacrament of Reconciliation Explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtbpOERgMvk

Afterwards, I shared a few thoughts and went into some specifics from a folder of material we give about helping their children prepare for their First Reconciliation.

I ran out of time but I wanted to then share this video:

Beautiful Things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is6weMrenls
picturegirl

 

 

What do you do to impact the parents at meetings like this?  I’d love to hear from you!


Here are 5 ways to encourage parents to contribute to making their child’s Faith Formation most impactful:

parent working with child

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Parents are first – You are the first and primary educators of the faith to your children. How are you helping them, as Pope Francis says, “meet Jesus”?  How are they growing in “grace and wisdom” (Lk. 2:52) during the years you have them under your roof? Do your children see you taking time to pray & grow in your faith? The habits and attitudes you model are the most important ones in your child’s life and make the most impact. Your words & actions speak to what your kids see as most important to you.

 

  1. Attitude – Your attitude can make a world of difference to your child(ren). Weekly class attendance, family discussions about what was covered in class and general attitudes on going to Mass, praying together and involvement in the parish have an effect on your child.

 

  1. Faithfulness – God desires to reveal Himself to us because He loves each one of us so very much. Through weekly attendance in our School of Religion Program you are witnessing your faithfulness to the promise you made at your child’s baptism: to raise them in the faith and assist them in their spiritual growth. Your goal is to help your kids get to heaven – this is the most important thing you can do as parents.

 

  1. Prioritize – When your child sees (even when she/he doesn’t always like it) that you put weekly faith formation as a top priority they become aware by your example how important faith is to you as parents. Your actions and choices speak volumes!

 

  1. The power of praying parents – Pray daily for holiness in your family and for the spiritual needs of your parish community. Put your trust completely in God, our heavenly Father, who will hear you and do what is best for you.  After praying and seeking God’s intercession for a specific intention which was answered, St. Faustina said: “Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God”(Diary 202).

What tips do you have?  Please share!


In the Early Church followers of “the way” (Acts 9:2) would gather on the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7) for “the breaking of the bread”((Acts 2:42).  This practice has been at the heart of the Church from the very beginning.  It is essential for the life of the Christian Community to gather each Sunday to honor God on the Lord’s Day.  Sunday Mass is foundational to living and bearing fruit in the Christian life.  Here are ways to encourage children and their parents to attend Mass every Sunday:

1) Share with them that they will be missed if they to not attend.family and mass

2) Communicate what God does every week at Mass (sharing His Word and His Body and Blood).

3) Discuss how faithfulness to the Commandments and the Precepts of the Church draw us closer to God.

4) Share the impact of the Mass in your life.

5) Pray for parents and kids to have the grace to respond to God’s love by coming to praise and honor Him each Sunday.


magiIt feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve had the time to post on my blog.  Today, I wanted to share a power point I shared with parents just last night on helping them prepare for Christmas.  This power point does not do my presentation complete justice but it gives a glimpse of things that I talked about.  I must give much credit to Lacy of catholicicing.com for many of these ideas that fit right into what I wanted to share with parents.

Life tends to be pretty busy this time of year.  Preparing and celebrating with family and friends and wanting everything to be just right.  Sometimes we let all the pre-Christmas celebrations and all the “have to do’s” prevent us from actually doing what Advent seeks to help us do (make more room for Christ in our lives).

Here is the Powerpoint Preparing for Christmas Like Never Before from my presentation.  I hope you enjoy it (it’s very simple).

Let us together walk more slowly, be more patient and take a little more time to spiritually prepare for Christmas.  Come Lord Jesus!


Recently our parish gathered all the parents and 2nd graders for a meeting.  This year was different than in years past because I’m trying to include the parents in more things this year.  Our parish is trying to make an concerted effort to involve the parents in all our programming.  We have approxamately 166 2nd graders this year.  With a group this large we put half of them in the church for the 1st 25 minutes and half in the Parish Hall and then we switched.  The part in the church was with our pastor talking about the Sacrament as well as my coordinator who spoke about many logistical things.  I led the part in the parish hall.

Here is what I did with the kids and parents:

1) I opened with prayer reading the parable of the Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-6)

2) I then had parents and kids read it from the Bible at their table and answer 5 questions (and then having kids come up and share their answers):

  • Who is the Vine and who are the branches (verse 1)?
  • What does Jesus ask us to do (verse 4)?
  • What happens if we do what Jesus asks us to do (verse 4-5)?
  • What does Jesus say happens when we sin and cut ourselves off from the vine (verse 6)?
  • How does this relate to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and our relationship with Jesus?

3) Next I asked for a Dad volunteer and about 5 kids.  They helped me reenact the parable:  Dad was the Vine and the kids were the branches.  When I shared that when we do things that are not what God would have us do (when we sin) we break off from the vine (a few kids broke off) but then when we are cleansed (through going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation – kids went over to a poster I had that said Sacrament of Reconciliation) we are connect back onto the vine (kids reconnected to the Vine).  And finally when we do God’s will and are connected to him we “bear much fruit”.  Everyone was given an apple to illustrate this.  

4) Then I asked all the 2nd graders to go to a table where I had two things: 1) a branch from a tree and 2) a holy card illustrating an icon of the Jesus the vine.

5) I shared with the kids and parents to take the branch home and watch it for a week and reflect how when the branch is not connected to the vine it withers and dies.  We are called to stay connected to Jesus and he wants us to.  This time of preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a good time to help us remember the need to be connected to Jesus the vine.

6) I closed with a brief prayer.

I think it went over very well.  I was pleased with how it turned out and the good vibe I received about these two 25 minute experiences.

 

What things have you done with 2nd graders and parents at the beginning of the year parent meeting?  I’d really enjoy hearing about what others do to engage both parents and kids.

 

 


As I get ready to have a parent meeting for First Communion here are some practical suggestions for parents as they help their child prepare for this most significant event/encounter – their First Holy Communion.

Practical Ways to Help Your Child Prepare for their First Communion

 

      1. Go to Sunday Mass with your children. Nothing is more important!

        1. Talk about what went on at Mass.
        2. Share how special it is to receive Jesus.
        3. Make Mass important and a valuable experience & not merely a “gotta go and get it done for the day” experience.
        4. Pray a special prayer daily as they prepare.
        5. Take the time to really go through the assignments…make them a special time.

a. Establish a weekly time

b. Show enthusiasm

c. Take the time to be thorough

6. Make visits to the Blessed Sacrament

a. Come early to Mass (or stay after) and pray before the Blessed Sacrament

b. Spend time in the Adoration Chapel

7.  When passing by a Catholic Church make the sign of the cross and/or say a prayer with your child.

   8. Talk about how God is working in your life and what the Eucharist means to you.

a. Share your experience

b. Of your First Communion (have grandparents and aunts & uncles share their experiences).

c. Of how receiving Eucharist every week impacts your life and helps you grow in your relationship with Christ.

d. Read a book on the Eucharist.

9. Help your child to know how to pray after Communion.

10. Make it a priority to eat dinner together as a family.  This helps them understand more clearly how the Eucharist is the family meal of the Church.

11. Pray regularly for a greater love of Christ who is truly present in the Eucharist.  For example: Jesus, as I prepare for my First Communion please help me love you more and do your will.               

12. Have them write a letter to Jesus or to journal over these next couple months.

Please share your suggestions on how parents can help prepare their children.


Quotes on the Mass

“What graces, gifts and virtues the Holy Mass calls down … repentance for sin … victory over temptation … holy inspirations which dispositions to shake off tepidity … the grace of final perseverance, upon which depends our salvation … temporal blessings, such as peace, abundance and health…”                                                                                – St. Leonard of Port Maurice

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” – St. Pio

“The Blessed Virgin Mary once told Her faithful servant Alain: “My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they’ve heard Masses.”

The Center of Our Faith

The Christian Liturgy is at the heart of our Catholic Faith.  The Holy Mass is of inestimable value surpassing all other forms of worship.  How come today there are so many Catholic’s not going to Mass?  I read a statistic from the CARA Survey that found only 33% of Catholics attend Mass weekly.  Why the low number?  Are people too busy?  Do they not care that it is one of the 10 commandments?  Do they believe they have more important things to do?  Do they not know the value in participating at Mass each week?  It is probably all the above depending on who you talk to.

9 Ways to Foster Mass Attendance

Catechist Magazine posted a great article by Patricia Mathson on ways to encourage family participation in Sunday Mass.  I wanted to post it on my blog but Catechist Magazine asked if I would just provide the link.  Click the link above and it’ll take you right to it.  In a time when so many Catholics are not going to Mass on a weekly basis, it is so important to find ways we can encourage Mass attendance.