“The catechesis of infants and young children nourishes the beginnings of the life of faith.” “The most important task of the catechesis of children is to provide, through the witness of adults, an environment in which young people can grow in faith.” (National Directory for Catechesis 48) Parents, through their own experience and practice of faith, are the primary catechists in their child’s life of faith which begins within the family. “Catechetical programs for children…seek to foster their growth in a wider faith community.” (NDC 48)
According to the National Directory for Catechesis, “Family-centered catechetical programs are opportunities for parents to catechize their children directly, for spouses to catechize each other and for children to catechize one another and their parents. All forms of organized family catechesis should flow from and lead back to the church. ” (NDC 61.2)
Family Centered Catechesis’ basic goal and mission is to help families be the “domestic church” that is needed for the building up of the Kingdom of God. In offering a variety of learning and faith sharing opportunities, family catechesis can: help families learn how to pray and to discuss their faith together; help parents better understand their role as primary catechists; bring families together in order to share and deepen their Catholic faith; strengthen the relationship between the family and the Church; establish ongoing Catholic faith practices within the family life; and integrate the family into the parish community.
Catholic leaders all over the country are responding to the call for Family Centered Catechesis. In response to the call to a “new evangelization”, the Church has rediscovered the importance of faith formation for the entire Catholic family. As families struggle with the pressures of our contemporary society, the Church urges parish leaders to offer a variety of faith sharing / learning opportunities that will help families grow into the “domestic church” we need them to be. Family Centered Catechesis should and needs to be an integral part of the total catechetical plan in all of our Catholic parishes.
Family Centered Catechesis can offer many benefits, in particular: Involves the whole family in the liturgical life of the parish; builds up the faith of the whole family; provides a way to teach, model and demonstrate family faith practices; provides resources for families to live Christian practices at home; eases the transfer of learning to the home because of the whole family involvement; and builds up the confidence of parents to share faith and values with their children by providing parent education resources, support and encouragement.
Associate Director, Children's Ministry