Family Faith Formation Overview
FOR REGISTRATION INFORMATION VISIT: Family Faith Formation Registration
Family Faith Formation refers to the program offered to families with children in Elementary and Middle School, including those seeking First Holy Communion.
FAMILY FAITH FORMATION HANDBOOK
Click here for the Handbook in English.
Clic aquí para manual en español.
FAMILY FAITH FORMATION CALENDAR
Our first Church Session of the year (our first gathering when we begin the year) will be Tuesday, September 22 or Wednesday, September 23 (depending on your choice of day).
Click here for a generic calendar giving you the basic dates of this academic year.
At the first Church Session, families will receive calendars complete with Home Session assignments specific to their Content Program.
FAMILY FAITH FORMATION VISION
Philosophy (Why We Do It This Way)
We first learn about God and live according to God’s teachings in our family:
“Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2226)
Faith is not an academic subject. Faith is a relationship, a series of relationships in fact: with God, with family, with community. As a parish, we provide families a place to gather, a story to learn, a prayer life to grow, a set of teachings to embrace, and Sacraments to celebrate Jesus alive and real in our lives. As a Faith Formation Department, we offer this program as the best way to meet these responsibilities (as described above in Purposes of Family Faith Formation).
Scope (Who Is This For)
The full Family Faith Formation Program offers growth in faith to all families with children in grades 1-8. For those children who have not received First Holy Communion, the Sacrament Preparation process in the Diocese of Venice takes two years. Thus, a family with children in need of Sacraments participates for two years, with First Holy Communion usually happening in May of the second year. For any family wanting to continue to grow in faith together, they are welcome to continue participating with us until their youngest child enters grade 9.
Other Faith Formation Programs for Children
These programs are not described in detail here because they involve the sacramental preparation of older youth and are administered outside the Family Faith Formation program run on weeknights as described here.
Confirmation: Confirmation Program for Children who have received Eucharist and are in Grades 9+
Click here for more information about our Confirmation program.
Initiation: Sacrament Program for Baptized Children in Grades 8+ in need of Communion
RCIA-Y (Rite of Christian Initiation adapted for Youth): Initiation Program for Unbaptized Children in Grades 8+
If you have children in these circumstances (qualifying for Initiation or RCIA-Y), contact the Faith Formation Office (239.574.2411 or email [email protected]) for more information on these programs.
Family-based (How This Works)
Our Family Faith Formation program is family-based. In other words, it does NOT involve a classroom or groups of children separated from their families. Rather, parents (or adult guardians) fulfill their responsibility to be the primary catechists of their children by leading them through the program. Thus, we enroll families into the program, not children. Families complete Home Sessions of Content Programs, on their own schedule, according to monthly deadlines as well as participate in twice monthly Church Sessions during which we gather as a community.
Twice a month, families attend Church Sessions, an opportunity for us to gather as a community, meet other families in the parish, share our faith, and connect our lives with the liturgy, the Christian story as it unfolds throughout the Church’s year. While sessions will vary wildly in format, the content will always connect our lives to Sunday Masses and involve the family completing a written activity called the Turn In, which serves as their attendance record for that session.
Furthermore, we will place families into smaller groups we are calling Family Crews. Each family will have an assigned seat in the church according to these crews. Family Crews provide an opportunity for families to get to know other families, building community within our parish. Family Crews will also each be assigned a Catechist-Companion who will walk with the crew through the program and assist families in a few ways (for more, see Volunteers Section below).
Each month, we expect families to complete the scheduled Content Program assigned to the children in the family:
Loved: Any child who has never been in formal faith formation at the parish (it’s their first year with us) completes the Loved Content Program (using a workbook called Knowing Our Catholic Faith from Loyola Press: https://www.loyolapress.com/faith-formation/religion-readiness/knowing-our-catholic-faith).
Blessed: Any child in their second year of formal faith formation at the parish (a second-year child expecting to receive First Holy Communion in May) participates in the Blessed Content Program (using a video-based program from Dynamic Catholic: dynamiccatholic.com/blessed).
Formed: And any children who have already received First Holy Communion participates in the Formed Content Program (using selections from the parish resource website formed.org). See Practical Matters below for more information.
Our Bishop (of the Diocese of Venice in Florida) has determined that all preparation for the reception of Sacraments by youth be a two-year process. Thus, if your child has yet to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion he or she will be placed in the first-year content program (Loved). Then, in your family’s second year with us the child(ren) will be placed in Blessed, our Sacrament-year Content Program.
While all our catechesis is performed in English (by Diocesan rule) we recognize the fact that many of our families are bilingual, with parents or guardians speaking and reading primarily Spanish while the children speak and read English. To better include Spanish-speaking parents and guardians in their children’s faith formation process we have chosen bilingual materials for all our programs. This inclusion does not increase the cost of our materials.
Program Calendar: September to June
Church Session Day: Tuesday OR Wednesday (two times a month)
Church Session Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Church Session Practicalities
As mentioned above, we assign all families to a place in the main nave of the Church according to Family Crews. Due to public health concerns during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic we will be spacing families as much as possible, assigning each family an end of an open pew, according to a map that will be sent to you prior to our first Church Session and available online.
We ask that everyone consult the seating map ahead of time and plan accordingly in terms of parking and entering and exiting the Church. We will have all three doors (north, south, and east) open and ask that families enter and exit through the door that corresponds to their assigned section in church. By doing so, we can maximize physical distancing between families. Leaving your Turn In in the pew will serve as attendance record, so no need to sign in or out. We ask for patience and compassion during entrance and exit times so all can move safely, using the hand sanitizing stations at all the entrances.
Home Session Practicalities
Twice each month, the families will complete lessons based on their Content Program. The Family Faith Formation Calendar you will receive prior to our first Church Session will list the assigned lessons (whether they be to complete certain chapters or watch certain videos). After completing a lesson, the family will go to our website (www.standrewrcc.org), find their Content Program page, and complete an online Digital Turn In (like the paper Turn In for Church Session, but done online through a simple Google Form). Submission of the Digital Turn In verifies participation in that lesson and only then ‘counts’ toward advancement to receive Sacraments.
Participation demonstrates commitment and priority. Participation makes the Purposes of Family Faith Formation possible (see that page above). Participation includes attending Mass on Sundays, Church Sessions*, an essential part of our program, and completing Home Sessions.
*Pandemic Note: Due to public health concerns over the transmission of the novel coronavirus, if your family would prefer not to come to Church Sessions in person, for the duration of the pandemic Church Sessions will also be live streamed online and a Digital Turn In made available to any family that ‘attends’ via online live stream. Submission of these Digital Turn Ins will be required for participation in the Church session to be registered.
As a general guideline, we ask that absences or missing submissions be limited to three during the program year (that count includes Turn Ins at Church Sessions as well as Digital Turn Ins for Home Sessions).
The ministry of Family Faith Formation could not exist without the dedicated team of volunteers who generously give of their time, talents, and love every week. More important than any expertise, certification, education, or preparation, we want volunteers who love Jesus, pray and attend Mass, enjoy children, and try to live the best they can. In other words, if you attempt to live a good Catholic life, you qualify! The rest, we can teach you. If you would spend some time thinking about and (more importantly) praying about the following roles in our program, we’d appreciate it.
Church Helpers, well, help in the Church. These individuals help families find their places, make sure that anyone waiting for a quiet room restroom does so with physical distancing, provides families with pencils or extra copies of Turn Ins when needed, and helps communication between families and Faith Formation staff. These individuals move about the Church, so families don’t have to. This role is perfect for teens in need of community service hours.
The Catechist-Companion has four responsibilities:
- Community: Building community by leading a Family Crew – getting to know the families, helping the families get to know each other, working with families to make sure their Home Sessions are done well and their Church Sessions are meaningful
- Accountability: Having access to their crew’s Home Session Digital Turn Ins, Catechist-Companions will monitor family responses to make sure they’re being submitted and offer assistance when they’re not (and communicating with the Director if an ongoing lack of participation becomes apparent)
- Church Session Leadership: Helping present or working with their assigned Family Crew during Church Session
- Personal Faith Formation: Catechist-Companions will continue growing in their own faith through a Diocesan Certification Program (an online curriculum done at one’s own pace throughout the first year or more of volunteering).
This role is most crucial to the success of our program and should only be undertaken by those with a deep love of Jesus, the Church, and families, who can reasonably expect to fulfill the above responsibilities. If you are interested but unsure of yourself, contact the director to have a conversation.
In order to work with children in a church in the Diocese of Venice, all adult volunteers must pay for and undergo a criminal background check as well as attend a two-hour Safe Environment Training class. For more information, contact the Faith Formation Office.
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