Engaging the Domestic Church in Children’s Catechesis

Authored by Joseph D. White in Issue #6.4 of The Catechetical Review

The family has a privileged place in catechesis. The Catechism states that “parents receive the responsibility of evangelizing their children” and calls them the “first heralds” of the faith (2225). The family is called “domestic church”—the church of the home (CCC 2224). For this reason, parents are the first and most important teachers of the faith for their children. In recent decades, however, it has been difficult for parishes and Catholic schools to make the shift to practices that are consistent with this understanding. Parents have come to think of the parish and school as the places where children are taught about the faith, and many families have left it almost entirely to these institutions to catechize their children. Still, recently, the quarantine that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic thrust us into a new reality—one in which, by necessity, children were learning everything, including their faith, at home. How might we use the momentum and opportunities that have been gained in this moment to craft an approach to catechesis that engages the domestic church in new ways? Here are a few suggestions for partnering with parents.

Give families ways to connect faith to everyday moments of family life.

When we hear that parents are the first and most important catechists of their children, we are sometimes tempted to encourage a didactic-style catechetical session in the home. While it’s wonderful for parents to conduct full lessons with their children, especially lessons about their faith, there are a variety of reasons—including time, confidence, and competency—that might make parents hesitant to dive into a full-length catechetical session at home. Sure, parents are primary catechists, but the parish is also a privileged locus of catechesis. The parish helps to make catechesis systematic and comprehensive, equipping parents in their role of bringing the faith to life through everyday experiences.

If, rather than trying to turn every home into a traditional classroom, we give parents the tools to connect faith to life in ordinary moments, we can assist families in developing a truly Catholic identity and worldview. Rather than offering a worksheet the family completes together, consider offering one way to live the content presented that week or reflect on its connection to our daily lives at home. For example, if a second grader has just completed a lesson that includes the Gospel in which Jesus says that he is the Bread of Life, offer parents this instruction: “This week, when you serve your children bread (e.g., a sandwich or a roll with dinner), remind them that Jesus said he is the Bread of Life. Ask them, ‘What did Jesus mean when he said this?’”

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Reclaiming Old Catechisms for the New Evangelization
By Aaron Seng
Even in these days of unprecedented access to information, some are surprised to find that there are more than a few catechisms in Church history. In fact, Catholics are heirs to such a wealth of these texts that they defy precise enumeration, having been penned and promulgated throughout the last millennium by bishops and councils all around the... Read more
Practicing Organic Reading with the Catechism
By Dr. Petroc Willey
In its “practical directions” for reading the Catechism the authors have placed a brief instruction: This catechism is conceived as an organic presentation of the Catholic faith in its entirety. It should be seen therefore as a unified whole. Numerous cross-references in the margin of the text (numbers found at the end of a sentence referring to... Read more
Children's Catechesis: Forming Children &Teens as Missionary Disciples
By Joseph D. White
In the 1997 General Directory for Catechesis , “Missionary Initiation” is listed as a sixth and unique task of catechesis. The 2020 Directory for Catechesis folds this task into the fifth task of catechesis, “Introduction to Community Life,” with the logic that an integral part of being formed in Christian community is learning to contribute to... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now