CHILDREN AND FAMILY MINISTRY

Our unique approach to intergenerational faith formation, Children and Family Ministry, seeks to nurture each member of the family through three main methods: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Small Discipleship Groups for Children, and Small Discipleship Groups for Parents.

Our formation for children and families seeks to put Christ and his Gospel first.  Our philosophy is that faith is formed through personal encounter with Christ.  We can help welcome this Spirit of Christ through intimate prayer, supportive experiences of community, and service to others.  From these experiences springs a natural desire to learn about Christ and his Church.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Level I

This program for 3-6 year olds takes place in a specially-prepared room called an "atrium."  The atrium is prepared very simply, containing hands-on "works" inspired by Scripture and the liturgy.  When the children enter the atrium, they remove their shoes (remembering that this is "holy ground") and put on slippers.  They choose a material to "work" with, perhaps a child-sized altar, equipped with two candles, a small crucifix, a chalice, and a paten.  Perhaps they choose to work with the "Pearl of Great Price" diorama, reenacting the scene of the merchant and the pearl in miniature.  At some point each session the children will see a presentation of a new work that helps lead them to contemplate the wonder of Scripture or the liturgy.  At the end of the session, the children and adults gather for communal prayer.  Through every act in the atrium, both the children and adults seek to "listen to God."  This method is foundational for helping instill the values of our parish and program, helping form our youngest children in prayer and love of Christ.  It is a Montessori-based method founded by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi. (located in the atrium, top floor of Sullivan Hall)

Small Discipleship Groups for Children

Our first through eighth graders engage in faith formation in small groups (about 4-10 children per group).  They meet at a round table decorated in the color of the current liturgical season, facilitated by at least one adult.  All groups begin the session together, meditating on a line from the day's Gospel.  Each group has its own small group discussion, showing support for whatever is going on in one another's lives, and how those events interact with God's word.  Focus then turns to the day's lesson on the teachings of the Church.  Our written curriculum (Pflaum Gospel Weeklies) seeks to transmit the teachings of the Church through a consideration of the week's Gospel.  All groups conclude in quiet prayer together (a modified Ignatian examen).  Each family in the program also goes off campus for a service experience once a year, getting a taste of what it means to put faith into action.  This program is largely based on the insights of pioneering religious educator, Maria Harris. (located in Sullivan Hall gym)

Small Discipleship Groups for Parents

In our small group(s) for parents, adults gather together to reflect on the day's Gospel in light of their experiences as parents and individuals.  The group is a way to keep adults connected to the themes their children are engaging, as well as to continue growing in their own relationships to Christ, one another, and their deepest selves. (located in Fr. Walt's dining room) 

There is also a once-monthly Large Group Parent Session led by Fr. Michael, Fr. Walt, and/or Holly to discuss what children are learning, share practical tips on living the faith at home, engage in prayer, and build relationships. (located in Sullivan Hall Meeting Room)

Service

As part of Children and Family Ministry, each family takes part in a two-week service project together.  One week is onsite, the other offsite.  The goal of the project is to facilitate interactions between families and underserved populations, in hopes of fostering an increased appreciation for compassion, justice, and action. (various locations)

Babysitting Ministry

In order to facilitate participation for all members of the family in small groups or atrium, competent and compassionate volunteers are available in our nursery to care for those under three years old. (located in nursery, lower level of Fr. Walt's house)

Sacramental Preparation

First Reconciliation and First Communion are received within the second grade small group.  (Please note that participation in the first grade small group is required in order to move on to the second grade small group.  The Diocese requires two consecutive years of faith formation prior to reception of sacraments).  First Reconciliation takes place during the Lenten season, followed closely by First Communion in the Easter season.  Our program emphasizes the close relationship of the two sacraments, noting with Sofia Cavalletti that reconciliation always calls for the great celebration that is communion (both in Scripture and in our lives)! Preparation takes place within small discipleship groups, as well as through intergenerational retreat experiences leading up to the sacraments.

Confirmation preparation begins in the fall of ninth grade and is typically received in the spring of ninth grade.  Please see our Youth/Teen Ministry page for more information.

Each dimension of Children and Family Ministry (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Small Groups, Service, and Babysitting) takes place Sunday mornings, September through May, from 9:45-11:10am.

For more information or to register, please contact Holly Mohr at 412-381-0212 ext. 106 or hmohr@smomp.org.