From Elizabeth Duffy, a fine plan to get catechesis out of the classroom…
“If I were designing an ideal Catechetical program for families I’d start, not with classrooms and catechists– but rather, with a meal– Mass followed by a Parish-wide dinner occurring at least monthly (but each week would be better).
The meal is a primary school of our faith. Jesus taught at the dinner table–it’s where he gave us the Eucharist. A meal draws families into the social life of the Church in order to share responsibility for it’s planning and clean-up, and create a cultural tradition that is founded on common faith. We learn charity around the dinner table, patience, temperance, generosity, and affability. Introverts learn to stretch at the dinner table. Extroverts learn to withhold. Children get to bask in the attention of loving adults, and adults get camaraderie with other men and women of faith. Plus, if you feed them, they will come.
At the dinner, the priest or a catechist would address everyone on one simple but critical teaching of our faith and then tables could talk about that teaching and how it’s lived while they eat. Families that have a stronger foundation in the faith would help families with a more timorous grasp. They could take under their wing the “orphan” children whose parents cannot or don’t wish to attend.
Dinner would be followed by a guided meditation for the whole Parish in front of the Blessed Sacrament with a bit of silence for individual dialogue. Here, the community would be catechized in how to pray, and they would have time to build their own relationship with God that would take them through the next week.
For additional support I’d create small groups among the adults, separated by sex, and led by at least one knowledgeable catechist that would meet in homes for study and prayer. From these groups, individuals would delve deeper into the teachings of the Church, and meet service opportunities in the parish and the community–at crisis pregnancy centers, homeless shelters, or for families in need within the Parish, etc.”
Fantastic. Anyone have experience with a parish-wide plan like this?