4 ideas to help students and parents
At an infant’s Baptism, parents and godparents affirm an important responsibility:
“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?” (FROM THE RITE OF BAPTISM)
As catechists, we act as members of the Christian community to welcome these baptized children and assist the parents and godparents in their mission to train them in the practice of the faith. Many catechists have found that some parents lack the wholehearted commitment to this responsibility, however. Some parents do not bring their children regularly to Mass or do not support the formation of faith at home through prayer and discussion.
No matter what age you teach, a focus on Baptism at the beginning of the year can be a great way to bridge the gap between your Christian mission in the classroom and the family mission at home. Try using the following ideas to teach your students and their parents about the importance of their Baptism.
Celebrate Baptisms like birthdays
Have your students find out the day of their Baptism from their parents. Parents can look
through their personal records or go so far as to contact the parish where their child was baptized in order to obtain a copy of their baptismal certificate (something they will likely have to do anyway for their children to receive their sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation).
Commit to celebrating Baptism days each week or month with a special recognition for
each child throughout the year. Sing a rendition of the birthday song, substituting “happy birthday” with “happy Baptism day.” Bring in a special gift or handwritten card for the student and give them a special sticker, hat, or desk decoration to recognize their day.
The point is to express how important their Baptism was in their life of faith. On their
Baptism day, they became a new creation. They became adopted sons and daughters of God. They were reborn as family members of Christ’s Church. This was the single greatest day of their life, whether they remember it or not.
As a bonus, invite the parents to share the date of their own Baptism, and remember to send them short emails or notes of celebration throughout the year.
Some of your students will have close relationships with their godparents, while others might barely know them. Help your class bridge that gap and invite your students to write letters to their godparents to tell them about what they are learning this year and to ask for their prayers.
This activity will be a nice reminder to these men and women about the commitment they made to support the parents in the training of the children in the practice of their faith. Those extra prayers from the godparents will certainly help throughout the year, too!
Renew baptismal promises
Invite the parents to come into class for a short prayer service allowing everyone to renew
their baptismal promises. This can be a very special moment for both parents and their children. Standing side by side, the parents will echo the words they spoke on behalf of their infant children. Now these children are able to speak these words of affirmation themselves. This act of prayer will solidify the entire family’s commitment to faith, but it also will remind parents of their responsibility to form the faith of their children today.
Align your mission with the effects of Baptism
How do you want your students to have changed through your class by the end of the year? Try aligning your vision for the end of the year with the effects of Baptism by asking these questions:
■ Will they have a greater appreciation for God’s mercy and forgiveness?
■ Will they see themselves as children of God?
■ Will they feel a closer connection to the Church, the Body of Christ?
■ Will they feel a deeper sense of unity with their fellow students and fellow Christians?
■ Will they proudly bear the spiritual mark of being a Christian?
Ultimately, the effects of Baptism are the goals we reinforce through our work of faith
formation. May we strive to serve parents and their children this year in the mission to love
God and neighbor.
Jared Dees is the founder of TheReligionTeacher.com and the author of Christ in the Classroom: Lesson Planning for the Heart and Mind, which helps develop lessons that lead students into an encounter with Christ.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, September 2019
PHOTO: CC-BY-2.0/CHRISTOPHER MICHEL