Welcome to our third newsletter!
Pilot Project with the Archdiocese of Toronto
By Patrick Douglas,
Associate Director of Family Life Ministry in the Office of Formation for Discipleship, Archdiocese of Toronto

To help both new families and parishes in the gap between Baptism and First Communion, we launched a pilot project in 2018 to test out  Early Catholic Family Life  (ECFL) in a number of different parish settings across our large and diverse city. To date we’ve trained 12 teams to offer this program in their own parishes. Our office onboarded 4 parishes each year to provide comprehensive training and material support during their implementation, to learn from their experiences in their various community contexts, and to create a network of support to share best practices.

Our initial evaluation results from participants in the pilot parishes have been overwhelmingly positive. All of the parents who completed the program said they would recommend ECFL to other parents. We also see that parish life is seeing the fruits of ECFL. One pastor shared that one set of parents who went through the program have now offered to become catechists of the RCIA program.  

We’ve also seen authentic intergenerational ministry exhibited in the ECFL core teams who, being rooted in prayer, have developed friendships through ECFL. Young adults who lead or assist in the early childhood activities get a taste of what family life looks like. And mid-life or mature adults who have a love for families can offer their gifts and mentorship. 

Our desire is to grow ECFL to become a catalyst for a deeper and organic integration of family life ministry in the Archdiocese. We are now in the pilot phase of onboarding more parishes and planning sustained growth.   

Thank you so much Alan and Joanne for creating this program and for your continued support in helping us grow ECFL in Toronto. 
ECFL connects caring families who value faith, family and friendship.

See this short video (0:36) featuring parents from an ECFL class in Minnesota.
More on Growing with Gratitude: Playdough for a Bakery and a Lesson in God’s Awesome Abundance
Make a batch of fresh new playdough. (It is most fun when it is still warm!) Get out the cookie cutters, rolling pins, birthday candles and butter knives! Create little plates of cookies, cakes and muffins, bake them in your pretend oven for sale at your bakery. Everyone can be the bakers and take turns selling and buying your special creations.

Use this activity as an opportunity to talk to your child about the foods we eat and where everything comes from. It comes from the amazing earth which God created for our use! Young children can appreciate how God provides the ingredients from the plants and things of the earth. Tell them about God’s brilliant plan in creating the earth to provide for people’s constant, on-going needs. It is one of the ways that God shows his constant care for all people. God even provided the ingredients for this playdough for our pretend-food play and fun!
Children can assist in measuring, combining and stirring. It is especially thrilling for them to add the food coloring and watch the immediate color transformation! As they add, mix in and stir everything together explain how God has provided all these ingredients from the goods of the earth:

Flour is made by crushing grains of wheat that farmers grow in their fields. 
Salt is a mineral present in the ocean. Salt is found where seawater has dried-up.
Water comes from rain and snow. We get water where it collects in lakes and streams and from under the ground where it seeps-in and collects.
Vegetable Oil is made by crushing the seeds or other parts of fruits.
Cream-of-Tartar is formed when grapes ferment or break down chemically.
Vanilla is made from the bean pods of “Vanilla” Orchids. They grow in places that are warm all of the time. 
Food Coloring colors are taken from parts of plants like pumpkins, grapes, blueberries, cranberries and green plants.
Easy to Make
Janet’s Playdough
This recipe rarely, if ever fails, uses ordinary baking ingredients and keeps well for a long time.

1 cup flour                               
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/4-1/2 cup salt                      
1 teaspoon vanilla-if desired
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Food coloring

Put dry ingredients into medium-sized saucepan. Add water and oil. Mix well. Add food coloring and stir. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until consistency of mashed potatoes and mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool slightly and knead while still warm. Cool completely before placing in plastic bag for storage.
Growing Even More in Gratitude:   An Adult Exercise
Spend some quiet time on your own level of gratitude this week!  These suggestions and questions may be helpful:

  • How do I currently acknowledge God’s Blessings in my life? Do a 5-minute, end-of-the-day-examine. Begin by naming each blessing you received throughout the day. Thank Jesus for each one. It will lift your spirits because it will increase His Spirit within you!

  • How do I demonstrate my appreciation to others for all they have given and are to me?

  • In what ways can I increase thankfulness in my life to God and to others? Take a small step of appreciation right now: write a note, call a friend, thank your spouse or encourage your child.

  • Have a conversation with another adult in your life. Discuss the importance of gratitude. Make a resolution to grow in gratitude each day.
ECFL for Grandparents  - we successfully piloted a new ECFL curriculum that is aimed at grandparents and their grandchildren. Its focus is to help grandparents to bring the Catholic faith to the next generation.
Online training for ECFL  - at the request of many, we are developing a way for individual parishes that are not able to attend a "live" training to become trained and to implement Early Catholic Family Life. 

Interested? Please email or call:
ECFL is dedicated to helping parents with small children to create a home that has a Catholic culture a home with Jesus at the center.