Connecting Age-Specific Catechesis to the Family

By Leif Kehrwald, Center for Ministry Development, Project Coordinator: Family and Intergenerational Ministry Services

Research shows that three key activities double the likelihood of a young person coming to "mature faith," that is coming to personal ownership of their faith and religious practice as they launch into young adulthood.*

  1. Family faith conversations. Family members making a conscious effort to talk with each other about faith and spirituality.
  2. Family ritual and devotions. Family members engaging in prayer and ritual with one another.
  3. Family outreach and service. Families reaching beyond their own boundaries in works of mercy and works of justice for others.

These activities provide a framework for connecting your age-specific catechesis with ideas and suggestions for families to share faith at home. Focus your ideas around whatever catechetical theme you are currently addressing.

For example, if your catechetical theme with young adolescents is Justice and Catholic Social Teaching, offer the following:

  1. Discussion starter questions on social issues pertinent to current and local concerns.
  2. A simple mealtime prayer that helps families remember those who do not get enough to eat.
  3. A practical, simple way for the family to serve those who are less fortunate.

With each activity, make sure you encourage the family to reflect on, and discuss the experience.

Here are a few general tips:

  • Adopt the adage, "if they build it, they will use it." Have people create their home activities during the gathered intergenerational session, if you have them. If not, try to gather a group of parents to brainstorm some ideas to post on your website in the announcements section.
  • Check out the additional Family Faith activities suggested for each chapter on this site.
  • Occasionally, build in a "loop back" strategy—asking families to bring the results of it back to the parish for others to see.
  • Vary where people do the activities: in the car, in the teen's bedroom, at the doorway, at the dinner table, etc.

* See the Search Institute "Effective Christian Education Study" in The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to Center Stage by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Abingdon Press, 1993, pp. 174-177.