"I Make All Things New": Changes in our Family Catechesis Program

06-03-2018This Week in Vidi DominumFr. Chris Axline

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

"Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'" (Mt. 28:17-20).

Thank you for your prayers these first few months in my new role as Parochial Administrator of St. Mary Magdalene. It is a great blessing to be able to serve you in this capacity! I know that many of you are curious about Religious Education (RE) in light of Jayne's relocation to OH. We wish Jayne well and thank her for her years of dedicated service to our parish. At this time, I want to write to you today about St. Mary Magdalene's Religious Education program. Religious Education is actually a topic that I am very passionate and excited about. Growing up, my mother was always involved in RE either as a catechist, or more often than not, the coordinator/director of RE programs. Her influence and example of ongoing formation and discipleship continues to inspire me to this day. Needless to say, a lot of my mother's influence has rubbed off on me as I to share a love of educating people in our rich Catholic Faith and forming them to be disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a rewarding experience.

That being said, I wanted to expand on my announcement this weekend about some of the changes to our RE program. In order to assist the busy lives that many families have in today's culture, we are in the process of streamlining the Family Formation program, which includes Religious Education for children, Sacramental Preparation for children, and the Parent Sessions. We look forward to serving your family and leading you closer to Jesus Christ and His Church. The changes include:

Weekly classes:

  • These weekly classes will allow us to have everything, including sacramental preparation done during these allotted times.
  • These weekly classes give us more time to understand our faith and to focus on prayer and spiritual formation in addition to the catechetical offerings.
  • The Tuesday/Wednesday Family Catechesis classes at St. Mary Magdalene aim to promote deep conversion and to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church for children and their parents through prayer, the liturgy, Sacred Scripture, and the teachings of the Church.
  • Our weekly programs will also have trained catechists and aides who strive to faithfully pass on the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church, will oversee and run the sessions for the children. Myself (Fr. Chris Axline), and Tom Perna (our Director of Family Catechesis) will be the primary catechists for the required weekly sessions [one or both parents will at- tend while the child is in class] yielding to other adult catechists to present topics as well.
  • Family Catechesis will meet weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 5:00pm to 6:00pm and 6:30pm to 7:30pm in the classrooms and the hall of the main building.
  • Since we are moving to a weekly schedule (sacramental preparation will be done in the weekly classes), space is limited. Priority will be given to registered parishioners of the parish. Others, including those who have registered in the past for religious formation ("RE only"), will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Capping these classes will ensure an appropriate and safe ratio of catechists and students.

Sacraments integrated into grade level classes:

  • This means that 2nd and 3rd grades will focus on sacramental preparation within their weekly classes.
  • The children will prepare to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Holy Communion using the Faith and Life series by Ignatius Press. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), Dr. Scott Hahn, and our own Bishop Olmsted have praised this catechetical formation model.

6th grade catechesis incorporating into our EDGE program:

  • I am excited for this change too, as it allows our sixth (6th) graders to experience a dynamic encounter with Christ and participate in activities offered by Lauren McParlane, Coordinator of Jr. High Evangelization, and Jake Stanley, Director of Youth Evangelization.
  • Youth Ministry is another seed of my own priestly vocation, both as a student and a catechist in youth ministry. Thus, I am grateful to Jake and Lauren for helping incorporate our sixth graders into this dynamic program through which our young people encounter Christ in new and powerful ways!

Little Lambs will stay as it currently is meeting on Wednesday/Thursday mornings! Thank you dear children for joining us and I look forward to seeing you all!

Additionally, with the incorporation of sacramental preparation into these weekly classes, that means that there is no longer a need for additional week- end sessions! Preparation will be done on Tuesday/Wednesday nights. For those receiving Confirmation, we will also offer a preparatory retreat during the spring semester. This retreat will give those to be confirmed the opportunity to pray on and contemplate the role of the Holy Spirit in their life as a Catholic Christian witnessing to Christ and His Gospel on a daily basis.

This is a big change and while change is never easy, when we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, He will guide us through everything, "The One who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new'" (Rev. 21:5). In conclusion then, I would like to say thank you to all of our catechists, aides, parents, and children who have been, are, and will be part of our Family Catechesis here at St. Mary Magdalene.

God Bless,
Fr. Chris Axline

Contact Tom Perna, our Director of Family Catechesis, with questions about these changes: tom@smarymag.org.