Saint Bernard Religious Education • Parent Education Program
Saint Bernard's Religious Education program is piloting a program for families whose child is beginning his or her first year of religious education in which parents and their children can Grow In Faith Together. This is a result of listening to parents and catechists who recommended a more interactive program for this first year. We believe we've designed a program that has enough parent support without being overwhelming in its requirements and enough interactive materials both online and in person for parents -- and great interactive materials for parents to share with their children.
Not all families have both a mother and a father, but where there are two parents, we encourage both to be involved in helping their children get closer to God -- regardless whether both parents are Catholic or not. If moms and dads have a relationship with God that fills them with wisdom and kindness and understanding and generosity, we'll share ways to pass on these gifts to their children so that their daughters and sons will grow up, blessed by God's love and protection and more than that -- that their children will be followers of Jesus.
Some parents were not brought up in religious households or they have lost their patience and understanding due to the stresses of life. Our GIFT program will indeed be a gift in these households as well. Whether this is your first child or whether you've already brought others to Jesus, we hope to offer the right kind of help and support throughout the year.
From Father Joe...
I LOVE doing baptisms! There's one line the priest or deacon says to the parents just before they bring their child up to be baptized. He says, "You have asked to have your children baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?" And of course everyone says "Yes." I think our GIFT program will make it easier for parents to not only train their children but to be the BEST of teachers. Listen to the blessing we give parents at the end of baptism: "God is the giver of all life, human and divine. May he bless the parents of these children. They will be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. May they be also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord." I'll be doing all I can to help parents be the best of teachers.
How to begin
One complaint that coaches of kid's sports teams frequently make is that "we get no support from parents." Coaches can sometimes forget that parents are often torn in many directions, with their jobs (sometimes more than one), caring for their own aging parents, helping with homework, etc. It's sometimes a relief to drop a child off at practice or a game and know that the child is having fun while the parents have a few minutes of time for themselves. The spiritual lives of families can be so wonderfully uplifting and helpful, especially during sad or frustrating times. But on the other hand, religion could be seen as a burden, something else to "have to do". Children pick up a spiritual attitude from their closest relatives. When parents approach our religion program as indeed a gift, the child is more likely to see their special faith time with their dads and their moms as loving,encouraging and even fun. If parents get so stressed that they talk about their faith time with their children as a burden, the child won't recognize the gift that's about to be unwrapped. So begin by praying to Jesus yourself, and asking for the strength and joy to grow in faith together with your child.
What we provide for Parents
• Four step-by-step workshops,spread throughout the year.
As the name implies,we'll coach parents step by step through the Growing in Faith Together materials so that the time spent sharing faith with children will be comfortable,inspirational and even fun.
Click here for an overview and schedule of the meetings.
• A guidebook for the year.Published by RCL Publishing, here is your source for growing in faith together with your child. Want a sneak peak? Click here to go to the publisher's website.
What Parents do with their children
• Work through the guidebook throughout the year
• Because you can do this at home, you can choose whatever time works for your family. It doesn't have to be right after school, as if it is another class (it isn't) or as if it is school homework (it isn't that either).
• Pray with your child. (for an example, see Father Ralph's interesting ipad prayer suggestion below)
• Come to Sunday Mass together. This could be a challenge if you have toddlers in the family, but check out this Facebook dialogue for some encouraging thoughts.
From Father Ralph...
It seems that even the youngest children have figured out how to use certain functions on a smart phone or tablet. So I suggest creating a folder on your device of photos of people to pray for. Then, sit with your child and swipe through the collection and pray:
"God bless Grandma & Grandpa, God bless Daddy, God bless Mommy, God bless Mr/Ms(School Teacher)…etc." It could become a cherished ritual at bedtime. Add photos of significant people along the way. Involve your child in deciding who should be part of the prayer collection. Personally, I use my photo collection of family, friends and parishioners to help me remember who to pray for. So this works for kids of all ages!
How much does the GIFT cost?
The number one "cost" in passing our faith in Jesus to the next generation is time spent with our children and with God in prayer:
• Come to Mass each weekend
• Spend some time reading with your child each week
• Come to four parent workshops
The program fee is $195 which covers all the workshops, books, handouts, and other program expenses.
One Mom told us, "My biggest problem with this program isn't coming to church or spending time with my child, it's the fee."
CLICK HERE for a further consideration of the fee.
From Mrs Susan Martin, Director of Religious Education
In my years of working with families, I've seen how hectic it is to bring young children to a religion class each week. With either after-school programs or Saturday programs, it is often a challenge to get to class, and children as young as first grade really don't need a "class in religion." Classes are important for older children, of course, but I've always thought that the first formal experience of religious education is best coming from the parents. This program will create some ongoing opportunities to have some prayer time together and to develop parent's ability to share their own experiences of God's love with the child. So I'm excited about piloting this new program for Level One families and I look forward to working with parents to give them all the support they need in this important year of their child's faith formation. Feel free to contact me with any question, suggestions or concerns. (516) 731-4220 ext 138 or EMAIL ME HERE. firstname.lastname@example.org
About our Artist
Thanks to Rachel Buhse for her great little sketches we're using on these GIFT webpages. Rachel grew up through our Religious Education program and was confirmed in 2014. Recently she designed the stations of the cross for our Lenten walk on Hempstead Turnpike.We're always grateful when people of all ages share their talents.