Each year in our parishes we support parents (and often grandparents) in their responsibility as the first educators in the faith of their children. It is first and foremost in the home that children understand what it is to be a Christian and to call themselves a follower of Christ. Our schools and parishes are there to assist in the faith formation and development of our children but can never replace the role of parent. This year has been a challenge to the way in which our parishes have been able to support the sacramental life and catechesis of our parish children.
It seems clear now that we will not be able to run an outside school Parish Catechists program for children preparing for the sacraments in 2020. Given that our churches will be closed until at least mid-September, and that after that we are likely to be limited to small congregations, we will need to postpone the celebration of First Eucharist and Confirmation until 2021. Hopefully this will bring some certainty to families who have been seeking information around our Sacramental Programs for this year.
The postponement of the celebration of the Sacraments does not mean that we will postpone the ongoing education in faith of our children. In fact, this creates new opportunities and challenges for us. Those children in our parish primary schools – Our Lady of Good Counsel, Deepdene; Our Lady’s, Wattle Park and Our Holy Redeemer, Surrey Hills – will continue with a program of religious education that will include the Sacrament of First Eucharist and Confirmation. They will be well prepared for the reception of the Sacraments in 2021.
For these students and for students in other schools in our local area our parish will continue to provide our weekly resources, Spending Time with the Word which is designed for families to use on a Sunday to listen to the readings of the Sunday Mass, reflect on them together and pray. We also provide a resource called Reflecting on the Gospel with Children. This is a wonderful opportunity for families to open up discussions about scripture and faith together. Why not allocate half an hour over the weekend to turn off electronic devices and explore some of these readings and faith topics together?
In September we are planning an evening via Zoom, where parents will be invited to come together for some input and resources sharing on educating your children in the faith. Stay tuned for more information about this opportunity.
Thank you to all teachers, catechists and parents who continue to hand on the faith to their children. Please know that your Parish Priests and staff are here to assist you and always welcome your contact. Please let us know if we can support you in any way. In the meantime, let’s continue to support our children, pray with them, encourage their questions and wonderings about all things to do with faith and life and trust that God will do the rest.