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August 04, 2010
Bringing Generations Together
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

With the energy of the Holy Spirit, we once again open the doors of our homes and classrooms to faith formation. What's new in this circle of God's love? Join me as we look at intergenerational catechesis as a breath of fresh air. Share your own success stories and questions about intergenerational catechesis on our "Faith Formation Forum."
Passing It Down...and Around
Who are the first teachers of the faith? We all know that faith begins in the family, the domestic church. Parents and grandparents pass on the story, rituals and language of God to their children.

While the traditional classroom setting has been the reliable model of catechesis for many years, a new crisis in evangelization looms. We live in a culture that has diminished the effectiveness of this model. We used to be able to count on the foundations of faith being built in the early years of a child's life at home. Children were nurtured in the Catholic faith by their family of origin.

In the past 40 years, however, that connection has been severed for many. Parents and grandparents have lost touch with this call to evangelize their children. The culture has drawn many Catholic families away from the community of faith and into a godless arena that silences the message of faith.

The response to this crisis of evangelization is a call to re-involve intergenerational presence as we teach the faith to our children. There are many wonderful programs that do this. If you haven't considered inviting parents and grandparents into your catechetical programs, you're missing the best teachers of the faith any student could ask for: the unsung saints of our families.
Online Catalog
A Treasure on the Shelf
God Is Calling: Together Time for Families by Judith Dunlap and Mary Cummins Wlodarski is my pick for best-kept secret on the shelves of catechetical resources.

Veteran religious educators with decades of parish experience, Judith and Mary offer an intergenerational program that's easy to do. They've taken all the guesswork out of the process, offering lessons plans and resources that keep it simple yet effective. And the best news is that, compared with other programs, this one is less expensive and requires only the printed materials to bring these family-based lessons to life.

Take a moment to check it out. Judith, Mary and their intergenerational program wait to bring new life to this year's faith formation program in your parish.
Online Catalog
Intergenerational Community
Whether your entire faith formation program or a few efforts are intergenerational, it's time to look ahead to resources to use when children and adults of varying ages come together.

One video program that was designed for children works well with adults too. A Child's View of Community offers a great overview of what the Catholic Church is about—told from a child's perspective. Still and video images emerge from a child's crayon drawings, bringing the story to life.

Use this program in the Christian Initiation of children and adults. We've received feedback from parish ministers who purchased it for use with children and found it was just right for adults in RCIA—as well as their children who are preparing to join the Church family. Parents, sponsors and candidates for Confirmation (restored order) and First Eucharist can view it together. I've selected a clip (RealMedia | Windows Media) to share with you.

This program has been paired with another titled Spirit Alive in Community which looks at ways the Holy Spirit is visibly active in the lives of Christians when they celebrate, worship, learn and serve together as members of the Body of Christ. It approaches the topic through four stand-alone segments—story, witness, teaching and music video. Use this with high school Confirmation candidates, their parents and sponsors as well as in RCIA.

Different generations have so much to learn from each other. Encourage sharing about what it means to be a member of the Catholic community with these video programs.
Franciscan Radio
Saints Are for All Ages
Stories of saints capture the attention of most family members—whether it's a child learning about St. Francis' love for creation, a teen crying out to St. Jude concerning a lost cause or a parent learning about a contemporary holy person in the news. The stories of saints encourage families to share together their own faith stories.

Unlikely Spiritual Heroes offers eight improbable candidates for sainthood: Thomas Merton, Helen Prejean, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Pedro Arrupe, Jean Donovan, Dorothy Stang, Maximilian Kolbe and Karol Wojtyla. This third Heroes book by Brennan Hill shines a spotlight on unlikely heroes who saw great injustice, sorrow and violence in the world and who, in their own ways—some small, some universal, sought and created love, justice, peace and hope for our time.

Find more Saint and Christian Hero products here.
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Faith Formation Forum

Share your ideas on faith formation at our online bulletin board, Faith Formation Forum. Our editors will screen and post your thoughts, and you can learn from others' ideas. Submit your ideas by clicking here.