Whole community catechesis is a relatively new movement in the Church, that, like the RCIA, is actually returning to a practice of the early church. When Jesus taught, and when he sent the disciples out, they went to where people lived, and converted them by sharing faith with stories that related to their everyday lives. The people began to develop an intimate friendship with Jesus, which they in turn shared with their families and friends. Faith sharing has proven to be the most effective means to the growth and nurturing of faith. More then teachers or books, the sharing of our faith with family and friends has the most long-lasting effect in one's life. The entire focus on Whole Community Catechesis is to share faith at home and here in the parish setting at each and every parish function, including Religious Ed classes.
We are a people of the table. We come together at the Sunday Eucharistic table to be fed by the Body and Blood of Christ and "every word that comes from the mouth of God." We then should be developing households of faith, where we nurture the faith life of our children, creating the domestic church at our dinner tables. (from Pope John Paul II)
Whole Community Catechesis is an ambitious undertaking, as it changes the way we will be community. The implementation will be a step by step process. The first step is the Question of the Week. The question is taken from the readings proclaimed at Sunday Mass. This is a chance for us to really think about how the Word forms us wherever we are in our lives right now. It is our hope that families will in turn dicuss the questions at home. There are no right or wrong answers to the question.
We are asking the children enrolled in our Religious Education Program to keep a Mass Journal. This journal is an opportunity for them to write the question and their own reflections on the question each week. We ask them to take the QUESTION STICKER from a priest, deacon, usher or Eucharistic Minister or usher as they leave Mass each Sunday. The Catholic Church has always taught that we have an obligation to attend Mass each week. This is a precept of the faith, as well as the Third Commandment, all of which is taught to the children in religious education. We are simply asking them to live this out to the best of their ability given their particular family circumstances. We realize that not all parents can get their children to church each week for many personal reasons, and thus we will not prevent a child from progressing in the program for such reasons if discussed and agred to by the director of Religious Education or the Pastor. We are responsible to report to the Bishop that our children are suitably prepared and practicing the faith when the receive First Eucharist and Confirmation. There is no way of knowing if 1,500 children are doing this, and this is not our attempt at “tracking” the children, only to enlighten families of the obligation that is set forth once parents ask for a child to be enrolled in Religious Education, and once a child asks to Confirm his or her faith. They are Confirming that they want to be a fully initiated Catholic, thus we need some kind of program to help us see if they are taking it as seriously.
We are trying to provide a program that we feel gives the best possible faith formation we can provide to our children given our limited resources and time.
Your children will not be asked to publically display their Mass Journals. It is between the child and the teacher. Conversations will take place between parents and our director or the pastor to determine individual circumstances surrounding a particular child’s Mass attendance.
If a child is herded through Religious Ed and never asked to go to Mass are we doing our job? This is only giving a child half of what we are asked to give. One analogy can be taking a child to soccer practice for years but never allowing her to play the game. The Mass is the Source and Summit of all that we do as Catholics. The Mass Journal directly links what takes place in the classroom to the celebration of God’s Word and Sacrament at Mass.
We strongly feel that when families discuss the Question of the Week together, it can enhance your entire family’s life and relationship with the Lord.
Our faith is nurtured, strengthened and made firm through the Eucharist. We have no greater access to our God than through the Eucharist.
Our attempt here is to share as fully as possible the greatest gift we have ever been given by God-: Jesus Christ. This is is an opportunity for all of us.
We pray the Lord bless each and every one of you with an open heart as well as the gift of acceptance and understanding.
Please be assured of our prayers and support to all of you.