My dear friends,
With school starting virtually for the children of our parish at some point this month, we have been naturally getting calls about what our Religious Education Program will look like for the 2020-2021 school year. Sadly because of the pandemic, it is going to look a lot like your child’s virtual schooling. This is one the most essential ministries of our parish as we share the beauty of our Catholic faith to our children. I wrote two weeks ago in this column that we were indeed going to have Religious Education classes this year, but that parents had to be much more involved in the faith formation program of their children. Our DRE, Jorge Santibáñez, has been working hard this summer to construct a feasible faith formation program to accommodate the needs of our families with our children being instructed from home. I will let Jorge take over the next few paragraphs to explain:
In the Rite of Baptism, one of the first questions the Church asks the parents of the child reads:
“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”
The Church has always beautifully maintained that it is the parents/family who are the first and primary catechists of children, their most influential teachers of the faith. Over the last few years leading the RelEd program, and particularly this summer as we had to address the many challenges presented to us by the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has always been my goal to recapture, highlight, and make essential the primacy of place of parents in the faith formation of their children.
This new catechetical year will be unlike anything we’re accustomed to. As is the case when changing anything or when starting anything new, there will certainly be challenges. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” (Rom 5:20) For every challenge, there will always be even more opportunity. As we move ahead into this new catechetical year, we have the chance to re-create the Parish-based Religious Education Program the way it was originally intended to be — as an intimate collaboration between children, their parents, our incredible catechists, and our parish community at-large.
The Rel.Ed. Program this year will consist of three main parts: 1) a virtual weekly general catechesis, led by myself, one of our parish priests or a special guest contributor; 2) a 30-40 minute live, virtual class with one of our parish catechists; and 3) regular participation in Sunday Mass, whether in person or online. Parents and the family will be invited and encouraged to become active participants in the journey of faith formation and sacramental preparation.
Our goal, as always, is to make catechesis meaningful, fun, and engaging for our students, families and catechists alike, as we all journey together towards an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ. The COTLF Religious Ed program, along with each of our volunteer catechists, is here to support and encourage our students and families to grow and develop their faith, their relationship with Christ and his Church, and their active participation within our parish community.
As you can see, our catechists and our DRE are ready to serve the needs of the children of our parish as we not only prepare them for the sacraments but to be active disciples of Jesus Christ. As a former student of our Religious Education program here at Little Flower, this is something that I take seriously now that I am pastor of this magnificent parish.
You can find information on how to register for our Religious Education program later in this bulletin. We fully anticipate celebrating First Communions and Confirmations in May.
And for our adults who may need to receive one of the sacraments for the very first time, our RCIA (Catechumenate) program also begins next month, and I invite you to either sign up online on our new website, or call Deacon Robert Fleitas at the parish office, (305) 446-9950. I was able to baptize and welcome several new Christians into the Church this summer, and I look forward to welcoming more next Easter.
We continue to trust the Holy Spirit as one parish community, joyfully witnessing and proclaiming our faith, passing it on to the next generation of faithful disciples!
God bless you all,