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Faith Formation for All Ages at SMG

Faith Formation for All Ages at SMG

By Fr. Enan Zelinski, Parochial Vicar

In the last two academic years, St. Maria Goretti has adopted a family-based model for our Faith Formation program. We’ve been using Sophia Institute Press’s “Family of Faith” Program, which uses a four-year cycle of class materials: The Creed, The Sacraments, Morality, and Prayer. Last year, we walked through the materials on the Creed, and we spent this year studying the Sacraments.

In contrast to other programs, this family-based approach places more emphasis on the parents’ role in the religious education of their children. What does this look like exactly? Instead of only the students coming to the parish for religious education, both parents and students alike attend classes each month and participate in class material directed specifically at their age level and ability.

The intention, then, is for the parents to take what they have learned in their session and extend the religious learning and formation into the rest of the month – whether that is during a set time for “religion study” or in more informal times of conversation like a car ride. Many parents have said that the adjustment to this new structure has not been easy for them, and that is understandable since it is something extremely different from other structures of religious formation. At the same time, we have also heard many great stories and highlights about the ways that this approach has led to good familial conversations about the faith in the home.

For me, this past year has been an extremely enjoyable experience because I have had the opportunity to meet monthly with the parents and teach their classes on the Sacraments. Over the year a nice community formed amid the classes we had, which led to good discussions, insightful questions, and the occasional shuffle through the Catechism to look for answers. I personally enjoy teaching, and the monthly parent sessions were a highlight of this past year. I am very grateful to everyone who participated in Faith Formation this year.

Future Growth

Looking ahead to next year, we are hoping to grow and expand the Faith Formation community and program here at St. Maria Goretti. Melissa Coleman, Melinda Minton, and I have drawn up a plan for the next academic year that aims at fostering community and encouraging continuing formation for all age groups.

The primary way that we hope to grow is by opening the Faith Formation to anyone who is interested in participating. Whether it is an entire family, a single person, a group of high school or middle school friends, or someone who is new to town, we plan to offer something for everyone regardless of age or knowledge of the Catholic Faith.

In addition to formation and learning opportunities for all, we also plan to recapture Sunday as a time and place for familial and community events. These Sunday opportunities will be aimed much less at classroom or discussion-based learning, and more on simply enjoying each other’s company with such things as community meals, open gyms, game nights, movie screenings, etc. Through these two types of events, both the community social events and more intentional formation, we hope to foster opportunities for more intentional community and for continued learning and formation in the Catholic faith. More detailed information will be coming soon, so keep an eye out for advertisements and announcements.

Assistance Needed

I think it is obvious that we have high hopes for the future, especially through some of these community and formational events that we plan to offer in the upcoming months. However, we will need significant help to make these things happen and to make sure they continue to happen.

If you are willing and able to assist us, please let us know. Whether it is by volunteering to lead and assist in a teaching/catechist role, or organizing and hosting social events on Sundays, we would greatly appreciate anything and everything you have to offer. We are confident that these are good and worthwhile adjustments for our community life and faith formation here at St. Maria Goretti, but as with anything, we cannot make it all happen on our own.

We are never finished in our growth as Christian disciples and members of the Church. Through these offerings of community and communal learning, we hope to offer as much assistance in Discipleship and the Christian life as we can to everyone here at St. Maria Goretti. May our love and hunger for Christ never run dry, and our curiosity toward the Faith never end.

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