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Faith development is key, education leaders told

Involve parents as evanglizers in passing on the Catholic faith, speaker says

Helping parents in their role as the first teacher of their children’s faith is one focus for Sister Patricia McCormack, IHM, who recently addressed Catholic education leaders in St. Louis.

Sr. McCormack
Sister Patricia was the featured speaker at the Leadership Convocation 2018 on June 6 at Chaminade Preparatory School in Creve Coeur. The archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education and Formation sponsored the conference for school administrators, parish pastors and religious education directors. The office recently added formation to its name to stress the importance of that role.

The purpose of the program was to help Catholic education leaders to work together as an effective, cohesive evangelizing team to draw in the families of the children who are being educated. Sister Nathalie Meyer, OP, interim director of Catholic education, said the day was meant to express thanks for “the tremendous ministry you do each day, living out the baptismal call to use your gifts to build up the kingdom of God. Each day you help each staff person, parent and child to understand that they are made in God’s image.”

Sister Patricia offered several ways for educators to involve parents. Presenting faith to children with the parents present lets the parent absorb the teaching as well. Game nights, Eucharistic evenings, missionary facilitators and other events are ways to achieve that goal.

Energize the parents and lead them to a personal relationship with Jesus, said Sister Patricia, director of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Office of Formative Support for Parents and Teachers in Philadelphia.

If the parent isn’t reached, the faith may not take hold, she said. “Jesus wants us to reach that parent, not just the child,” Sister Patricia said. “To know, love and serve God — that’s what we want to give to our families. If we can introduce them to Jesus, He’ll do the rest.”

Scripture and the Eucharist feed that desire, she added: “There is not a saint in the Church whose foundation wasn’t the Eucharist.”

Sister Patricia earlier spoke on “Being an Evangelizer vs. Working as an Evangelizer.” She noted that effective teachers of the faith need to primarily be a witness to Jesus and the joy of His Gospel. She urged a personal faith-relationship that is dynamic and continually growing to allow the Holy Spirit to touch souls.

An author, speaker and consultant, Sister Patricia describes a teacher as someone who walks with people and tries to pass on the faith. “When faith is alive and well within us, it shows,” she said.

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