Real ways to share the faith
Q. My students know all about popular cultural icons and amazing professional athletes. They want to be like them. How can I help them know the saints in the same way?
A. One of the best ways to help children learn about the rich history of our Church is to relate real stories of the saints’ lives and their relevance today. For instance, many children could probably tell us that pop singer Taylor Swift was bullied in school; you could tell them about St. Bernadette and how she was often ridiculed for her piety. Children may enjoy talking about their favorite sports teams and the athletes they admire; we can tell them about St. Sebastian, who is the patron of athletes. Children may know that Harry Potter lived a sad life of an orphan until he discovered his special powers; we could share stories about St. Frances Cabrini, who is the patron of orphans.
We can enrich our understanding of the saints by finding good resources that will entice children to learn more about these holy men and women of God. Religion textbook series offer information on the saints in the texts and websites. Daily feeds about the saints can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and email postings on the “Saint of the Day.” (Our sister publication Catholic Digest publishes stories in every issue telling the legends of our holy saints.) If we can proclaim the fame and beauty of the lives of God’s holy ones, then children, too, will look at these people as heroes.
Q. There is an annual National Catholic Schools’ Week celebration. Is there anything like that for parish religious education?
A. The religious education year begins across the nation with parish celebrations on Catechetical Sunday, the third Sunday of September. Blessing, celebrating, and acknowledging our catechists, our catechetical endeavors, and the catechetical year during Sunday Mass is a wonderful beginning.
In order to further the celebration, the New England Conference of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education (necddre.org) instituted Religious Education Month. November, the month of remembrance, celebration of the communion of saints, and our national Thanksgiving Day is the designated month.
Parishes and diocesan offices are encouraged to celebrate their religious education programs in as many ways as imagination allows. For example: Tell the good news in diocesan news-papers, parish bulletins, e-letters, and Facebook postings; invite reflections by members of the religious education staff at Mass; post a history of the religious education program, a chronology of parish DREs, a listing of all catechists; offer coffee after Mass one weekend in the religious education facilities; brainstorm with the catechists on your team about how you can make your parish aware of your ministry.
Religious education is something to celebrate. How will you celebrate your program?