Magazine article Momentum

One More Way to Reach out to Overburdened Families

Magazine article Momentum

One More Way to Reach out to Overburdened Families

Article excerpt

In Connecticut parish, comprehensive two-week summer program covers the entire year's religious education program for grades six, seven and eight

The Parish of Saint Thomas More in Darien, Connecticut, serves approximately 700 families with children who are in grades kindergarten through high school. This community like so many others in the United States today, is inundated with extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs and outside community events that call out to families, "join us!"

How does this affect parish catechetical programs? How do we minister to people who just do not need one more place that they absolutely HAVE to be present at during the week?

One way we met this need in our parish is by putting together a comprehensive program of study and activity for two weeks during the summer that covers the entire year's religious education program for grades six, seven and eight.

By breaking down the lessons into themes, rather than chapters, we cover all the basic theology, service, and prayer components of the yearly curriculum in a setting that is relaxing and fun as well as educational.

What better way to teach about intercessory prayer than to put together a kite, write our intercessions on the kite's tail and send our requests flying up to the heavens? How about a Mass where father explains to the students every action that takes place during the liturgy, from vesting to purifying the vessels? How better to serve those in our parish who have sickness or hardship in their lives than by having students create shawls? Students whisper a prayer asking for healing and help for those who will receive the gift as they tie a knot in their creation.

These a just a few of the activities that we incorporate into the program we refer to as the "Fast Track Summer Program for Religious Education."

We begin our day with everyone gathering together in one large space where we have a prayer service. This past year we focused on praying the Psalms. We pray together as a group. When it is suitable, we pipe in a song or two. This quiet time gives all the students time to prepare themselves for the lessons and projects that are to follow in the next three hours.

Students are then separated into grade-level groups and sent to their own special learning place with their catechist. …

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