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Faith Alive in the Home

Beyond Sunday grant allows 2 parishes to offer faith formation to young families

With a grant from the Beyond Sunday campaign in pocket, two north St. Louis County parishes are taking their dream of offering faith formation to young families and making it a reality.

Faith Alive in the Home is a new initiative that will accompany parents of young children and encourage them in their role as first teachers of the faith. The effort, modeled after the Parents as Teachers program found in many public school districts, is a collaboration between St. Ann in Normandy and Holy Trinity in St. Ann. It is being funded by an $80,000 grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri — a result of the successful Beyond Sunday campaign.

Program coordinator Sister Maureen Martin, ASCJ, said that volunteer home visitors will bring catechesis, materials and other resources into homes to help encourage parents in teaching their children the faith. “They will be assessing with the parents, strengths in the home and the parents’ ideas … and what might you do to strengthen that?” she said. “Whether it’s praying with a family, celebrating, creating a certain environment in the home, using Scripture. There are a variety of things we will be looking at that are indicators of a strong faith.”

About a dozen home visitors are currently undergoing training, and families from the two parishes are sought to participate in a pilot program, expected to debut in early 2018. Sister Maureen noted that they are specifically looking for families who have children in the 2- to 3-year-old range.

The relationship development is key between the home visitor and families, she said. “It’s a spiritual conversation that you’re having with a family and their child,” she explained. The program also is geared to reach into a family’s home and make a deeper connection with the parish community.

Home visitors will spend at least a year with each family. Parents also will be asked to attend a few group meetings to connect with one another. On the flip side, home visitors will have a support group to share best practices.

Home visitors’ training has included visiting the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium at Sacred Heart Villa. The catechesis program is a Montessori-based model and includes hands-on learning opportunities. Teachers also have been trained in Virtue Based Restorative Discipline and have met with a licensed professional counselor who has worked with families and children.

Sister Maureen noted that one of the home visitors, herself a young mother, was asked why she’s involved in the effort. “People ask her why they’re doing this, and she said it’s because there are so many friends who don’t go to church anymore,” Sister Maureen said. “She’s hoping to reach out to young people who are not connected to the Church.”

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