Faith Formation in the Family

Updated: Mar 7

By: Allison Ramirez




For the past month, I have been working eagerly to plan and prepare in-person faith formation programs for the parishioners of the local parish I was hired to in December. This will be the first time in close to TWO YEARS that in-person faith formation will be offered again at the parish level for PreK – Adulthood. COVID has made learning about the faith limited only to the home. However, as excited as I am to help bring in-person learning and fellowship back to the parish, learning about your faith at home might not be the worst thing that could happen. In fact, I argue it might actually be the necessary starting place.


In even the best of circumstances, most faith formation programs meet once a week for one to two hours, or on a reduced scale, sometimes only every other week for the same amount of time. That said, there is only ever about three to six hours a month of instruction available to children and youth at the parish level. Three to six hours is just not much time when you think about all the other hours in a day and all the other days in a week. This is not enough time to build relationships or educate the children in the faith to where they will not walk or drift away from it once they reach adulthood. The reality is, the faith formation of children and youth at the parish level should serve to supplement, not replace, the faith formation they should already be receiving from their parents/guardians in the home.


According to the Lumen Gentium “Light of the Nations” document from the Second Vatican Council,

[the family is the domestic church] and parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care, a vocation to a sacred state.

In other words, it is the family’s responsibility to raise the children in the faith, with the support of the church.


For the past several weeks, I have prepared curriculum for the youth, put together personalized binders with welcome cards and printed lesson plans, decorated and set up meeting spaces, gathered and trained volunteers, and promoted the word to parents via email or other parish correspondence. However, through this work, I have realized more and more that while these efforts are wonderful and needed, not only should the local parishes be providing faith formation to the children of families, but they should even more so be working to equip those very families (particularly the parents, grandparents, or other guardians) to teach and instruct their children in the faith.


We all have busy lives, and so often, between getting the kids to school or extracurricular activities, making dinner or cleaning the house, teaching about the faith gets lost. Or worse, parents aren’t able to find the time to deeper their own personal faith, let alone instruct that faith to their children between the demands of work and their kids.

While these are valid hurdles, they should not be excuses. More and more young people are leaving the church every year, and I believe this is in large because they are not being trained and guided in the faith by the very people they see and live with on a daily basis, arguably the people they have the potential to be influenced by the most.

If kids and youth don’t see their parents or guardians living out the faith, or making it real in their own lives by teaching them of its value and significance, they will more often than not fall away once they become adults.


So how do we change the expectation and equip the family to be the domestic church? We can start small by providing families with the same resources we use to gather the lessons and curriculum we teach at faith formation classes. Many of these online resources are free and could be shared with families. The parish could also hold monthly classes for parents, checking in with them about how their instruction of the faith at home has been going, what needs they have, or support the parish could offer them.

The domestic church can be alive and well, and the mother church – our local parishes – can take on a bigger role in cultivating the growth and the life of the family’s faith.


For the past month, I have been working eagerly to plan and prepare in-person faith formation programs for the parishioners of the local parish I was hired to in December. This will be the first time in close to TWO YEARS that in-person faith formation will be offered again at the parish level for PreK – Adulthood. COVID has made learning about the faith limited only to the home. However, as excited as I am to help bring in-person learning and fellowship back to the parish, learning about your faith at home might not be the worst thing that could happen. In fact, I argue it might actually be the necessary starting place.


In even the best of circumstances, most faith formation programs meet once a week for one to two hours, or on a reduced scale, sometimes only every other week for the same amount of time. That said, there is only ever about three to six hours a month of instruction available to children and youth at the parish level. Three to six hours is just not much time when you think about all the other hours in a day and all the other days in a week. This is not enough time to build relationships or educate the children in the faith to where they will not walk or drift away from it once they reach adulthood. The reality is, the faith formation of children and youth at the parish level should serve to supplement, not replace, the faith formation they should already be receiving from their parents/guardians in the home.


According to the Lumen Gentium “Light of the Nations” document from the Second Vatican Council,

[the family is the domestic church] and parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care, a vocation to a sacred state.

In other words, it is the family’s responsibility to raise the children in the faith, with the support of the church.


For the past several weeks, I have prepared curriculum for the youth, put together personalized binders with welcome cards and printed lesson plans, decorated and set up meeting spaces, gathered and trained volunteers, and promoted the word to parents via email or other parish correspondence. However, through this work, I have realized more and more that while these efforts are wonderful and needed, not only should the local parishes be providing faith formation to the children of families, but they should even more so be working to equip those very families (particularly the parents, grandparents, or other guardians) to teach and instruct their children in the faith.


We all have busy lives, and so often, between getting the kids to school or extracurricular activities, making dinner, or cleaning the house, teaching about the faith gets lost. Or worse, parents aren’t able to find the time to deeper their own personal faith, let alone instruct that faith to their children between the demands of work and their kids.


While these are valid hurdles, they should not be excuses. More and more young people are leaving the church every year, and I believe this is in large because they are not being trained and guided in the faith by the very people they see and live with on a daily basis, arguably the people they have the potential to be influenced by the most.


If kids and youth don’t see their parents or guardians living out the faith, or making it real in their own lives by teaching them of its value and significance, they will more often than not fall away once they become adults.


So how do we change the expectation and equip the family to be the domestic church? We can start small by providing families with the same resources we use to gather the lessons and curriculum we teach at faith formation classes. Many of these online resources are free and could be shared with families. The parish could also hold monthly classes for parents, checking in with them about how their instruction of the faith at home has been going, what needs they have, or support the parish could offer them.


The domestic church can be alive and well, and the mother church – our local parishes – can take on a bigger role in cultivating the growth and the life of the family’s faith.

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