Before our juniors in high school are confirmed, as a final step in the preparation process, they gather in small groups for Confirmation interviews.
They review and share impressions of their years of faith formation.
When asked what they liked most about the process, one junior said, "Family Program was my favorite part. I really liked coming and being there with my family." Another member of the group said, "I don't really know what Family Program is. I go to a Catholic high school and so I didn't experience that." The first girl responded, "You really missed out!" She went on to share that she thought it was a loss not to have had that opportunity to be part of Family Program.
I have thought a lot about that comment for a number of reasons.
1.) To have a junior in high school say her favorite part of formation was what she did with her family is special. As much as teens are trying to individuate and find their own identity, keeping them looped in a program participating with their parents and siblings having conversations about faith, morals and values in a loving community is a highly supportive factor in an adolescent's faith life and emotional development.
2.) I was sad to hear a child from a family choosing Catholic school did not realize they are totally welcome to participate in Family Program! I wondered... did we not let them know that? Did they not feel welcomed? If that is in anyway true please know how welcome you are to be part of Family Program. Sometimes I wonder if Catholic school parents think what we cover will be redundant. We purposely use different resources from Catholic schools and gathering as a family is not intrinsic to Catholic education.
3.) It's never too early or too late to join us. Our programs are for any age, beginning at age three.
4.) It also made me wonder if those who may be single or empty nesters, those who are not raising children feel welcome. There is a way, you too can participate in a group taking place you may find is a good fit. You may have heard about Family Program but never thought it was for you. Let me know if you would like to learn more about this option we call, Take II.
5.) And one last thought, every year is important in our faith formation. There is a special emphasis around the time of sacramental prep, but the truth is our relationship with God and God's Church is the most important relationship in our lives. We don't take a year off from our marriages or raising children or being a good friend to someone. Every year of staying connected and forming our faith is precious.
So, I hope you will be part of this vibrant community, The Family Program. We are The St. Anthony Family of Faith and there is a place for everyone! I hope you don't "miss out" on a program that will nurture your relationship with God and connect you to our faith community.