Providing services and programs for parents and guardians is at the heart of parish catechetical effort.
How can the parent meetings be both informative and life-giving for all who attend?
Pray first: Begin the meeting, as well as your preparation for the session, with prayer. This models that listening and responding to God comes first in the life of faith.
Keep to a well-organized agenda: Construct the meeting so information and activities move from one to another in a natural, logical flow. Start and end on time, making sure to allow ample time for questions. Also be mindful of local customs regarding refreshments and time for socializing before and after the session.
Include adult catechesis: Even well-formed parents may not feel comfortable explaining certain aspects of the Catholic faith to a child or teen. Providing adults with a basic overview of one or two key Catholic teachings associated with an activity and tips for sharing those teachings with younger folks does two things: It honors parents as lifelong learners in Christ and equips them for the task of handing on the faith through their life at home.
Remember God’s love: Family members are often juggling multiple personal, professional, educational, and extracurricular activities, so the meeting can be an opportunity to pause and feel the compassionate presence of God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-in the midst of their busy lives.
Create feedback loops beyond the meeting: At the beginning and end of the meeting, tell parents how they can address questions and concerns that come up later in the meeting. Post a summary of essential information along with a link to an email address for submitting comments or asking questions.
Attending to both the “what” and the “how” of meetings with parents makes the most of the opportunity to interact. As the General Directory for Catechesis reminds us, “In helping parents and educators to fulfill their mission well, it i the Church who is being built up” (no. 179).
National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors gathers the wisdom of parish leaders from around the country, serving as the parish catechetical voice within the NCEA.
This article was originally published in RTJ’s creative catechist January 2014.
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