Tag Archives: First Communion parents meeting

5 Quick Takes

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Woah… Not a peep from me for a while! Must be September! Seriously, the last week has been a struggle to stay afloat what with everything starting up and being pulled in millions of different directions. This is the time of year when you want to cut yourself into lots of little pieces in order to manage everything, and when you wonder whether you’re doing anything at all that well. But, there are things I love about September too. That beginning-of-the-year feeling when everything is new and fresh. I’m looking forward to all the children and teens starting their programmes :)

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To add to the mix, on Saturday, my sister got married! An extremely, extremely happy day all round. The parish said it was the most Catholic wedding they’d had all year. What really got me was the new translation of the Rite of Marriage, including the Nuptial Blessing before the Sign of Peace: here’s part of it here:

Father, you have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery
that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church.

Father, by your plan man and woman are united,
and married life has been established
as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin
or washed away in the flood.
Look with love upon this woman, your daughter,
now joined to her husband in marriage.
She asks your blessing.
Give her the grace of love and peace.
May she always follow the example of the holy women
whose praises are sung in the scriptures.

May her husband put his trust in her
and recognize that she is his equal
and the heir with him to the life of grace.
May he always honor her and love her
as Christ loves his bride, the Church.

Wow – really amazing. The whole weekend has been incredibly moving, especially seeing in my own sister and her husband their powerful witness to the vocation to marriage.

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Right before I zipped home for the wedding rehearsal, we had our first parents’ meeting of the year. For the Year of Faith, we’ve planned a full programme for parents (one for primary-aged parents and one for secondary-aged). This one was for the first group, and I introduced the year by talking about what it means that parents are “first teachers” of their children. I showed a powerful clip from The Human Experience on the family, “the project of the human person”, which demonstrates beautifully the strong and intimate bond of the family, the context of our first and strongest experiences. We ended with a period of Adoration.

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This week, we begin our Come, Follow Me programme! I am excited :) This is something I have been interested in and talking about for a long time. It is considered by Maryvale Institute to be the best children’s catechesis available. So we are trying it with our first group of children. They are preparing for First Communion. One downside of Year 1 of Come, Follow Me (for seven-year-olds) is that it does not cover Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Fortunately, these children will cover these sacraments this year in school. The Come, Follow Me sessions will be deeper catechesis, focussed more on interior life. Wonderful parishioners have helped out by creating the stand we needed, donating rugs, and cutting out figures and signs.

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Finally, unless you wanted to be bored to tears, don’t get me started on my dissertation. I am nearly at the point of beginning this final stage of my Masters, and last weekend I spent a weekend figuring out “what all I was gonna do” (as they’d say in Kansas). So: I am focussing on the four dimensions of the Christian life – discovering how heavily the Church references them in relation to catechesis – and investigating to what extent this concern of the Church has been received by catechetical scholars and programmes. I know I speak for myself when I say – this excites me! Not much research has been done into the importance of the four dimensions (or ‘integral’ catechesis) before. However, I understand if it doesn’t quite get you all sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation. Just trust me: this is catechetically important :)


The Joys of Parish Life


OK, so “joys” is ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek… I am swamped in paperwork for the beginning of the year. I cannot WAIT to actually begin teaching. But as with any job, you spend a good percentage of your time chasing people, solving problems, getting information up-to-date and hearing many, many individual stories about why people can’t come to your meeting.

Seriously, the pastoral side of parish life is messy because people’s lives are messy. In our particular area, parents can be pushy and intent on getting their own way. A good principle I heard at the DRE training in Steubenville this summer is to be strict on paper, but more lenient in person. Often, making the right decisions with parents requires excellent intuition in sussing out who is trying to pull a fast one, and who genuinely has an insurmountable problem. Luckily my parish priest has a good nose for this…

Why do we take such a hard-line with parents and insist they come to meetings for sacramental preparation? Because the Church teaches they are the first and the best educators of their children in the Faith (see Familiaris Consortio). In that sense, it is more important that they receive formation than that their children do. Lots of parents think that we or the school form their children in the faith for them. Nope…that’s not how it works. If parents are not living their faith authentically, there’s little chance their kids will either.

The Holy Family - model for all families

At the weekend I realised how hidden and subtle the fruits of our catechetical work are. One of the families of the First Communion children I taught last year were at Mass on Sunday. (Hooray!) The children both received Communion, then their mum took them and her other children over to light some candles. It made my heart totally sing to see the little boy, however, go straight back to their pew right at the back of church, to pray. It was a tiny moment but it gave me joy.


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