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September 07, 2011
Learning Throughout the Life Cycle
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.”

As the earth turns to the brilliant tones of the autumn landscape, we have a great opportunity to reconnect with the cycle of life. We are called to become lifelong learners—in our lives of faith and in all areas of our lives. As we greet each season anew, we can look at how we've grown since its last appearance. In this issue, we offer suggestions for harvest-time lessons and opportunities for growth throughout the life cycle.

FOR SHARING AND DISCUSSION: Share your ideas and questions on our Faith Formation Forum.
What ideas for harvest-time activities would you like to share with other readers? Relate the activity to a faith lesson.
Share a fun, beginning-of-the-program-year idea for getting to know your students.

Sacred Seasons as Teaching Moments
Years in the classroom have taught me to take advantage of the seasons of the year as teaching moments. A fine time to follow this principle is during autumn. As life slows into hibernation and the earth gives forth its fruit, we are forced to realize that death is a part of life and that our marvelous God is present in each part of life’s cycle.

Leaves and apples, pumpkins and squash all have stories to tell. I love to use apples to teach about the Trinity: The peeling is like God the Father, who is always there to protect and keep us from life’s bruises and bumps; the pulp is like Jesus, who is food and nourishment for the journey; and the seeds are like the Holy Spirit because we know how many seeds are in the apple, but we can never know how many apples are in the seed.

As you enjoy the beauty of this sacred season of harvest and even death, be inspired to use creation’s lessons as graced teaching moments.
Online Catalog
What Makes Us Catholic?
Regardless of how many years you’ve spent in the pews, it’s always good to dust off your knowledge of the faith and to spruce up your living of the faith. Students won’t be convinced to believe in the Catholic faith by memorizing test answers. They will be convinced by your witness and your convictions. With that in mind, I recommend the book Being Catholic. Author Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk divides his book into three sections: 1) believing like a Catholic, 2) practicing like a Catholic and 3) thinking like a Catholic.

As a catechist, it’s been good for me to tune up my conviction engine with Being Catholic. I resonate with the Archbishop’s passion and clear explanation of why we do what we do and to whom we belong. We all—catechists, catechetical leaders, and even archbishops—need to keep learning and growing in faith.
Online Catalog
Learning Through Listening

Did you hear me? Are you listening?

I’m guilty of not listening, not tuning in to what my ears are hearing, far too much of the time. I watch the news and have no idea what was just reported. My husband tells me things that I immediately forget. My pastor delivers his homily, and I realize that my mind has wandered. My ears pick up the sound waves, but my mind is not engaged in what I’m hearing. Listening is a matter of focus.

I invite you to tune in to something that’s really worth listening to: American Catholic Radio. This weekly 30-minute program for adult faith formation is funded by the U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign and distributed to Catholic radio stations around the country. It’s tagged as a program that helps you “know your faith, so that you can grow in your faith.” You can listen to current or past programs anytime at

One way I’m inspired to put my faith into action—making it real through my lived experience—is by listening to the stories of others who are doing so. One of the segments of American Catholic Radio is called “Living Faith.” In it, producer Judy Zarick interviews people who are putting their faith into action. I’ve selected a recent interview to share with you (Windows Media).

Share the link to American Catholic Radio on your parish website, use segments in faith formation sessions with teens or adults, and encourage parishioners to listen on your local Catholic radio station or through the website. Challenge adults to “tune in” to their lifelong growth in faith by listening to American Catholic Radio each week.

Franciscan Radio
Nurturing Faith at Home
Planting seeds of faith in children is something that starts with parents. I like to reinforce this with families at the beginning of each program year since parish and school faith formation efforts support what happens in the home.

There are many great resources for parents that can help them pass on their faith. The September issue of Every Day Catholic focuses on Christian Parenting—Nurturing Faith in a Secular World. (Check out the FREE small-group guide that’s available online. Use it to help groups of parents explore this important topic.) This issue of Every Day Catholic helps to remind parents that they don’t have to be perfect to be good role models. It also reminds them that their actions can speak louder than their words:

“Parents may convey more by their attitudes than their words. They also know their child better than anyone else does, so they’re in a position to communicate clearly. Does a child see parents sacrificing their leisure time or overtime pay to read a bedtime story and say evening prayers? Do they notice intentional efforts toward kindness and peacemaking in the home? If so, the message is obvious: My parents value me and our faith.”  –Kathy Coffey, Every Day Catholic, September 2011

The single best thing you can do to plant seeds of faith is to help parents grow in and appreciate their faith—and remind them to share it with their children in word and deed.

You can find additional resources for parents and families at these links:
Homegrown Faith: Nurturing Your Catholic Family by Heidi Bratton
Legacy of Love: Biblical Wisdom for Parenting Teens and Young Adults (book, DVD) by Kimberly Hahn
Your Catholic Family: Simple Ways to Share the Faith at Home by Jim Merhaut; foreword by John Roberto
Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children by Jeanne Hunt
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