Re: [dre-talk] Evangelizing Parents
- Wednesday 17 April 2013
Greetings from Gainesville
Interesting question, but I suppose the "answer" cleverly resides in what meanings with which one fills the verb evangelization?
* I evangelize the parents by loving their children
* I evangelize the parents by providing them with an open and listening mind and heart letting them tell me stories about the joys and sorrows of their family life. Jesus listened to the woman at the well.
* I evangelize the parents by hosting times when we can get together to talk about whether or not the scripture intersects with their everyday life. Jesus took time to explain the scriptures while they were were taking a walk.
* I evangelize the parents by being willing to try and honestly answer their questions and concerns about their religion and its place in their life. (This usually begins with stories of pain and hurt, i.e. spouses rejected because not being Catholic, children rejected because they are homosexual, older adult children who no longer practice, etc..)
* I evangelize the parents by bringing into their lives creative and new ways to look into the Gospel stories through contemporary media and classic stories that invite them to feel a God of compassion and caring in ways that entertain and challenge.
* I evangelize the parents by developing moments in time when their middle school and high school teens actually enjoy being in the church youth groups and they bath in it.
* I evangelize the parents by creating quality parenting education that speaks to real concerns and issues and is not just a cover for catechesis. Their sufferings, joys and hungers are real to the Jesus I know and love.
* I evangelize the parents by celebrating their significant moments with them: marriage anniversaries, birthdays, promotions at work, their kids getting into college, etc.. I beleive Jesus saw the work of the Spirit in the midst of fully alive relationships.
Just some thoughts. Some times it works, some times it doesn't. Just like parenting.
Cell: (352) 339-3707
From: micheleiw <Micheleiw@...>
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5:59 PM
Subject: [dre-talk] Evangelizing Parents
DATE: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 10:08:50 -0500
SUBJECT: Evangelizing parents
How do you evangelize parents- what has worked, what has
not, what do you want to try?
-- *Carrie Sallwasser* Coordinator of Religious Education
Queen of All Saints 314-846-8126,311
Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words. St.
Francis of Assisi
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- Good question!
We have not found all the answers, but have found some baby steps that seem to work.
This is a 100+ year old parish with many young families who have had grandparents (and even great-great grandparents) attend the same church and school. Our program has been shrinking until just recently when it has started to inch up, and there are currently 250 students.
Many of the parents have a "do the minimum" attitude toward church and faith, combined with inadequate childhood formation and underdeveloped relationships with God. The majority don't respond to invitations to sit and chat, refuse to talk to me if I hang out in the pariking lot, and refuse to even come into the building to pick children up after Faith Formation. Of course, the majority also do not attend Mass.
We instituted Sunday Children's Masses and that got some parents into church! This only happens 4 times a year, with two grade levels taking responsbility for a regular Sunday Mass. Little children provide art and sing a few simple hymns before Mass. Older children serve as ushers, lectors, servers and set-up/clean-up. We send letters inviting parents and explaining their child's job. We also send reminder e-mails. We get about 70% participation. And then the other parishioners are so welcoming and kind and father knocks himself out with the homily - so they start trickling back to Mass! (very slow trickle, but noticeable)
Also we instituted several family events during Faith Formation class time, such as our Lent Event Reconciliation Service with Penny Procession for the Poor annd children's activities in the Hall while parents get to pray or go to Confession. Another such event is the February celebration of Life Mass with a speaker from a charity that serves a pro-life cause and an ice cream social. Also there is a free pizza dinner with a canned goods collection and a catechetical theme, and there is an Advent Fair for children and parents in lower grades. These have huge participation! Some parents complain or skip the events, but again, because the children love the event so much, they are often dragged in and then have fun in spite of themselves!
Also I view sacramental parent meetings as prime time for evangelization and knock myself out preparing praise videos, testimonials, and persuasive presentations. We also require second grade parents to do sacramental workbooks at home with their kids and attend a Jesus Day First Eucharist Retreat. Very high participation.
And of course, every phone call, new student registration, or parking lot conversation is an opportunity for evangelization - just by being cheerful, caring, gentle, positive... and NOT officious or judgmental. We do require a personal appointment to register for the first time so that I can get to know the parents and kids and give them an idea of ways to get involved with the parish. On the other hand I knock myself out to be flexible, doing tons of make-up meetings at all hours, extending deadlines, being sympathetic to family situations, and finding creative alternatives to help parents who are pressed for time.
We also have a newly revamped approach to infant Baptism. Parents must come in for an appointment to set their date, discuss details, etc. After that they must also participate in a 1.5 hour preparation class. We have Baptism Coordinator Couples who attend the prep class and then also the Baptisms to provide a known and friendly face. We follow up with mailngs every 6 months until preschool and a party once a year for alll families that had infant Baptisms on the feast of the Baptism of Christ.
We also offer our free weekly Little Angels Playgroup for children ages 0 - 4 and a parent or caregiver, with a trained leader who provides circle time and a well stocked playroom full of donated toys. This is a way for young moms and grannies/nannies to get to know each other and beat cabin fever in the colder months. Fabulous!
All these little changes have provided more opportunities for evangelization and it shows!
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