Greetings from the
Office of Christian Formation!
December 2019 - a publication of the Office of Christian Formation
Have a joyous Advent & Christmas!
It's the holiday season, and while we try our best, sometimes we need a little assistance to be merry! Cue the children in this Christmas story video interview-- their laughter, their answers, and their bright smiles remind us that the details of the story of Jesus' birth aren't as important as our willingness to share the heart of that story. A story of love, life, light, and joy, and one that we *all* could use more of, whether at Christmas or the rest of the year.

PLUS-- we've updated our website with our Christmas and Epiphany resources!

the Office of Christian Formation
Lunch & Learn with the Formation Office!
In Mayo House right now there are dozens of crèches out for display. They come out every year and many of them were created by Bishop Goff. When I first learned of this tradition last year I immediately thought of my own upbringing and my grandmother’s collection of nativity scenes. Every year my mother would find her a new set and we would tell the story of Jesus’ birth. The wise men of every set were always somewhere else in the house and would move towards the manger during the 12 days of Christmas. My sister and I always got one last gift on Epiphany to celebrate their arrival.
My grandmother has been collecting nativity scenes for years and my mom still gifts her one most Christmases. Her collection is varied in size and style and appear in every room in her home between the beginning of Advent through Epiphany. She had sets we weren’t allowed to touch as children because they were so delicate, and she also had one from Fisher-Price that played “Away in a Manger” when the angel sat on top of the stable. Very few of the crèches don’t look like my family, or they are carved from stone or wood. Seeing my family’s skin reflected in the Holy Family was not unheard of, it just was.
My partner Jeremy and I are spending our second Christmas together and still figuring out what our own Christmas traditions are. One that I did insist on is having at least one crèche, and last year Jeremy gifted me a handmade one from Peru. It’s a little silly – there are no sheep or donkeys, just cats – but it is the beginning of our own collection. I hope that like my grandmother, I can see Jesus throughout our home and how Christ is moving through us now.

- Sierra
This Month's Promotion Packet for parishes:
Help us get the word out about:
the Summer 2019 Reunion and Shrine Mont Camps Sunday!

We bet you have campers from summer 2019 in your parish! Help us make sure they know that the Summer 2019 Reunion is January 4th in Oak Hill in Northern Virginia! PLUS we need your assistance with advertising Shrine Mont Camps Sunday, which is February 9th!

Use the materials in this packet for your parish's bulletins, e-news, and anywhere else you think they would work! We've even included suggested language for helping us promote the reunion and Shrine Mont Camps Sunday-- and of course, if you need more assistance, contact one of us at the emails at the bottom of this newsletter. Thank you so much!
We're searching for TWO NEW camp directors!
Is one of them YOU?
Follow this link to our webpage, which has more information about job descriptions, responsibilities and qualifications, and how to apply!
I'm an educator at heart-- I believe in guiding people to discover their own knowledge, truths, and understandings of their world. I used to teach art in public school-- at elementary, middle, and high school, by the time I moved on to other jobs-- and I always viewed my job as less about teaching skills and more about teaching how to think like an artist-- globally, empathetically, and reflectively.

I've been thinking a lot about metacognition lately-- which is a fancy way to say, "thinking about thinking." Teaching children (and adults) metacognitive strategies is not only good educational theory, it's good spiritual theory too. Metacognitive thinkers are more self-aware, more in tune with the world around them, and better able to consider complex questions and "gray" areas. In other words, a number of things that we hope they learn as they develop a relationship with God: a better understanding of themselves, a better understanding of others, and more comfort with the nature of spiritual thinking.

  • "What is Metacognition?" tells you more about this idea of thinking about how we think.
  • "Elementary & Middle-school Age Metacognitive Strategies" has ways to model thinking about how we think, as well as ways to incorporate teaching it into other subjects (possible Sunday morning classes?)
  • "Metacognition Teaches Self-Awareness Too" tells you a little bit more about the non-academic benefits of thinking about thinking
  • and the book "Metacognition, Worldviews, & Religious Education" tells more about how being self-reflective is part of teaching spiritual behavior!

- Megan
PYM News!
Did your high schooler love Senior High Weekend? Are they looking to grow in leadership? Do they love working with kids?

There's still space for Weekend Facilitators for the Spring PYM weekends! Facilitators serve at either 4 th & 5 th Grade or Jr. High Weekends as small group leaders, activity leaders, musicians, and more. 

Applications for PYM Weekend Facilitators will go live in January, announced in the OCF newsletter, the website, and on Facebook.

Direct any questions to Sierra Gore
Advent is a time of much hurry, preparation, and to-do lists-- but in the middle of this, in the Diocesan offices at Mayo House, we've been taking time with this book for a daily advent devotional. " Keep Watch with Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers" by Claire Brown and Michael T. McRay is a lovely book for slowing down, even if just for a few minutes.

I started our office's advent devotional practice with the desire to share a moment of reflection among the haste-- we take a few minutes each day to share our thoughts and what moves us about our reading. It's easy, quick, and centering-- and I encourage you to think about adding this practice to your or your staff's daily schedule during Advent!

  - Paris
The Staff of the Office of Christian Formation!
Paris Ball, Minister of Christian Formation & Director of Camping Ministry

Megan Nolde, Christian Formation & Camping Ministry Associate

Sierra Gore, Christian Formation & Camping Ministry Assistant