Welcome! We are pleased you have chosen St. Joan of Arc to help form your family in our Catholic faith. The Church tells us that before we are able to effectively share our faith in Jesus Christ—something each of us is called to do by virtue of our Baptism—logically, we must first encounter Christ ourselves in a substantial way, so that we may begin to enter into his rhythms and observe his movements; not unlike how an apprentice might imitate a master craftsman. This process of encounter is called evangelization. Now what this means for our children is that they must eventually come to recognize their faith as being essentially rooted in a person, the person of Jesus Christ, and not merely a series of memorized doctrines. Although, knowing what God has revealed and what the Church teaches (i.e. through doctrine) ultimately gives form to the Master’s rhythms and aids in our growing in love of Him. So for those who have been evangelized and have encountered Christ in their lives—ideally within a familial structure—the process of catechesis (the transmission of doctrine) should be experienced as a blessed opportunity to grow in love of Our Lord.
In past years, we have noticed that many of our families have not encountered Christ in a significant way before starting their catechetical training. In response, we have elected to extend the religious education process by one year with the hope of remedying this issue. The first year will focus on the evangelization of families, helping them begin (or continue, as the case may be) the process of establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ. The goal of the subsequent two years will be to adequately prepare your children for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Eucharist respectively: essential steps in living out our Catholic faith.
The goal, once again, is for us all to become apprentices in the Master’s workshop, learning from Him and allowing ourselves to enter more deeply into relationship with Him. However, we cannot expect to do this work alone; it must be a cooperative venture between you, your children, your parish and God. Therefore, parents, we need your help in a special way. We need your participation in all aspects of your child’s religious education; from the moment they walk through the door at orientation, until the day comes when they are free to decide for themselves what they will believe and whom they will follow: the gentle invitation of Jesus Christ or the subtle lures of the world. This choice of theirs, in large measure, depends upon you and the choices you make right now. In other words, is your Catholic faith evident to all, especially to your children? Do your actions and words reflect the Gospels or do they frequently contradict them? Do you do everything possible to create a home environment that allows faith to flourish and grow, or rather falter and fail? If you feel that you are ill equipped for this task, then join the ranks of generations and rejoice in the knowledge that not one of us is God and that we will always do an imperfect job passing on the faith to our children, and, therefore, will always have need of His abundant grace to see us through. As the old axiom goes, the Holy Spirit does not call the equipped, but equips the called. You are called, parents, and the more you cooperate with the Spirit and allow your parish to lead you in this most important of endeavors, your family will inevitably draw closer to Christ and grow in faith through your time here at St. Joan of Arc.