Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In 2014, the Diocese of Bridgeport held a Diocesan Synod, a one-year process of reflection, discernment, and preparation for the future. Among many important initiatives to come from the Synod was a Diocesan Catechetical Task Force, charged with examining faith formation (especially for children and youth) around the Diocese. Each parish was invited to reimagine their Faith Formation programs, and we responded with a special focus on . Our experience over the past three years has shown us some of the benefits these changes have provided for our parish and students, and we recognize areas where further improvement is needed. Additional changes forced by the pandemic have also brought to light other areas for growth and provided us with an opportunity to move forward with Faith Formation opportunities that meet the concrete needs of our parish. This is why, having completed a challenging year of remote catechesis, made possible by the heroic efforts of our parents, and after prayerful discernment and a thorough review of the faith formation opportunities that St. Pius X currently offers, we are pleased to announce that we have decided to further enhance and expand our efforts for lifelong Faith Formation. What follows is a description of this new vision for our parish.
Faith formation is the life-long process of growing in the practice of the Catholic faith, in body, mind, and spirit. Faith formation, therefore, pertains to spirituality, intellect, and service, so that every Catholic can live an authentic relationship with God. There is no age-limit in faith formation. Whether you are young or old, married or single, a parent with young children or a grandparent, you are invited to participate in some way in faith formation at St. Pius X Parish. We encourage you to visit our website, www.st-pius.org, for a comprehensive list of faith formation opportunities at your disposal ranging from small groups to liturgical ministry.
In response to the requests of many families, we will reintroduce weekly catechesis for Grades 2-6, and introduce a parent-led, at-home faith formation program for Grade 1 under the umbrella of Elementary Faith Formation. The norm will be for children to prepare for First Reconciliation and First Communion in second grade. Children in sixth grade will prepare for Confirmation and will receive the sacrament in the spring. As they begin the very challenging middle and high school years, we believe that the grace of the sacrament of Confirmation will give them an indispensable spiritual foundation. Parents of children enrolled in Elementary Faith Formation (Grades 2-6) will attend two (2) Prayer & Information Sessions offered during the year. It is vital for parents to continue their own faith formation in order to best respond to the call to be first witnesses of the faith for their children.
In the new Elementary Faith Formation model, children in Grade 1 participate in parent-led, at-home formation with materials provided by the Faith Formation Office. Children in Grades 2-5 have the option of weekly, in-person formation OR parent-led, at-home formation. Children in Grade 6 attend weekly, in-person formation. For more information, please see the insert in this week’s bulletin or visit our website.
As children get older, it is important that they have an opportunity to engage their faith on their terms and with their peers. We will continue to offer our Edge Middle School Ministry to students in middle school (Grades 6-8) who wish to participate. Edge invites students to engage their faith in a very personal way, while also forming friendships with other middle schoolers who are serious about their faith. Edge leads naturally into our Life Teen High School Youth Ministry for teens in Grades 9-12. Life Teen leads teenagers and their families into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Both Edge and Life Teen enable young people to understand how the Church responds to the current circumstances of the world and how they can best live out the Catholic faith in their present-day context. We are proud to be one of the 1800+ parishes in 31 countries offering Edge and Life Teen Youth Ministry!
Living with pandemic restrictions meant that every ministry, program, and group in the parish had to be modified in order to accommodate as many people as safely and effectively as possible. As a parish staff, we were able to think critically about what has worked in faith formation and what needed improvement, based on both previous years and the needs of parishioners. The most important factor of lifelong faith formation is the practice of the Catholic faith within the family, especially by attending Mass every Sunday. With a renewed approach to faith formation, we are encouraging a deeper practice of the Catholic faith, placing regular Mass attendance and daily prayer at the center of our lives. Participation in a faith formation program cannot replace regular participation in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church. Our goal, therefore, is to embrace a vision of faith formation that allows the practice of the faith to be both accessible and inviting to our entire parish community.
As we move forward and prepare for the 2021-2022 academic year, we will rely on the generosity of parishioners. Catechists for grades 2-6 are very needed. If you feel the Lord inviting you to serve as a catechist and teach the faith to our parish children, please contact Shari Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, in order to better accommodate our students in the classrooms, each room needs to be refurnished. A gift of $150 can purchase a new desk and help us update the equipment our students use. Another need is for adult CORE Team members for middle school and high school youth ministries. Members of the CORE Team help organize and lead our youth ministry activities, and more importantly, mentor our young people as they grow in the faith. If you feel the Lord inviting you to work with the youth of our parish, please contact Paola Peña at email@example.com.