Family Of Faith (For Children)
Welcome to “FAMILY OF FAITH,” our family oriented religious education (CCD) program that helps families to become stronger and holier.
- FAMILY meetings replace traditional classroom instruction, where students and parents (or adult guardian) meet twice monthly, usually the first and last Sunday, starting with our Family Mass at 10:00 am.
- These family meetings train PARENTS—the best teacher and effective model for their children—in formational activities to do with their own children (including games, crafts, etc.). Enrolled families receive all necessary materials and books, in either English or Spanish.
Below is a fuller explanation of the program, signup form, fee, schedule, calendar, videos, and a “FAQ” section in both English and Spanish.
You may call the parish office, during regular office hours for more information. Ask for Dan Cheely (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our “Family of Faith” Curriculum
comes from Sophia Institute.
An increasing number of parishes around the USA have implemented this program with great success, revitalizing the faith of their students, parents, and parishes.
This video gives a quick look at the program concept.
Normal Prerequisties For Each Sacrament
- First Confession: One year religious instruction
- First Communion: Two years religious instruction
- Confirmation: Four years religious instruction +9 weeks
(Registration in the full Family of Faith cycle is required)
- Please pay on our giving site, FaithDirect. Enter “Family of Faith” in the Note field
(Flocknotes is the parish mailing list system so we can contact you with class announcements)
Family Of Faith 2023-24 Calendar
First family class: Sunday, August 27
Confirmation: Thursday, November 9
Easter: Sunday, March 31
First Communion: Saturday, April 27
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the “Family of Faith” Program at St. Mary of the Angels? How long does it take to complete?
The Family of Faith Program is a new religious education initiative. It concentrates on supporting and strengthening families in both faith and their family unity. The program results in strengthening both the family and parish life as a great “Family of Faith.” It builds upon the most powerful element of effective faith transmission, the family.
This program has a term of four years. The complete course is an introduction to all aspects of Catholic faith, life and morals. Through it, the students and their parents, will grow together in their spiritual journey, through attendance at Holy Mass, regular family activities, prayer, and participation in parish life. Instead of being something external, isolated, or something merely obligatory, students will come to understand and value their religion as a lifelong way of life!
Why did St. Mary of the Angels change from classroom Religious Education (CCD) to the Family of Faith program?
We want to introduce your children to a real, personal relationship with Christ, and strengthen and guide them throughout their lives in the most effective way possible. The most powerful teacher for children on their path of life is their own parents!
Studies have shown that when both parents actively practice the faith, the majority of their children will too – that is still true even today. When one or both parents do not practice, most likely their children will not practice the faith as adults.
Our own experience confirms what 30 years of research has found: students will not value religious instruction if their parents do not. St. Josemaría Escrivá would frequently say that 90% of a person’s vocation comes from his or her parents.
Our Family of Faith program is designed to fortify both the faith and the family. We want to give your families the strength, joy, and warmth that only God can give!
I don’t know my faith well, how can I teach my children?
The Family of Faith parish program is tailor-made to address this! The parish will now teach you the Faith AND how to impart it to your children. You and your family will grow in the Faith together, bringing you closer to each other and to God. For parents the new parish program is a “turn-key” solution. Instructional Sundays teach you the easy-to-understand content of each month’s lessons and step-by-step instructions for each activity for that month. This will help you to gain knowledge of the Faith and confidence as you teach it. Various tools are also available to help parents turn potentially problematic situations into successes, such as what to do when a child asks a question you do not know.
I just don’t feel comfortable doing this. I don’t know how to teach!
Remember, you are not alone imparting the Catholic faith to your children—quite the contrary! This is and will be a parish activity. St. Mary of the Angels will be there for you and with you, many ways:
- We will prepare you well in the monthly instructional sessions, giving you the content of the faith in a form easy for you to teach it to your families.
- It will be tailored to your family situation and comfort level, having instructional sessions and materials in both English and Spanish. You will be able to decide what is best for your family.
- We will also have a social gathering last Sunday of the month. This will help make Sundays, and learning the Faith together, a fun family event. As many wonderful families in Saint Mary of the Angels—who are trying to raise and teach their children in the same Faith—get to know each other better, we’ll be able to help each other by sharing family experiences, building friendships, encouraging each other in the Faith, and building up the parish as a “family of families.”
- Don’t sell yourselves short! Parents are teaching their children all the time, especially by example! You are already a much better teacher than you realize. Your children will be grateful to you for giving them a vision of life that is much deeper and better than the materialism that surrounds them! A strong and loving faith will help bind your family together more closely than ever.
Why can’t we just do it the old way?
We could, but is it the best way? Countless studies show that the major life lessons that carry one through life are learned at home. These include faith and spiritual life. No one is better situated to give those lessons in a memorable way than loving parents!
Decades of experience at St. Mary of the Angels showed that the “old way” worked when the surrounding culture was supportive of Christian faith and morals. In today’s secularized world this is no longer the case. The students are often bored with class, and find the Faith at odds with their school, classmates, and the media that they are consuming. The “old way” isn’t “sticking with” our children’s minds, hearts, and consciences. On the other hand, parents can take advantage of those “teachable moments” of everyday life, which can and ought to include a conversion to Jesus Christ. The Family of Faith program leads parents into how to do this in a powerful and convincing way to their children.
How did St. Mary of the Angels come upon this program? Are other parishes using it?
The Family of Faith program was developed by the Sophia Institute for Teachers, a reputable publisher of Catholic educational and spiritual resources. Having studied religious education programs all over the USA, Sophia Institute carefully developed this program and tested it in many parishes around the country, including here in Chicago. They continue to improve it. Parishes are impressed with the results in the students and in revitalizing the entire parish!
I just don’t have that much time.
Actually, the new Family of Faith program takes less time than the old program, and increases the time that the family spends together, creating quality experiences for the whole family. The old CCD program involved one and a half hours of instruction, plus Mass, every Sunday throughout the school year. The new program regularly requires only two Sundays each month, plus Mass. Moreover, the extra instruction for those families with students receiving First Confession, or First Communion takes place in a very limited one month period just before receiving those sacraments. The special instruction classes for the Confirmation candidates takes place on Sunday mornings during the two months before Confirmation in November.
Is there a lot of time and work involved for families?
No. There are two lessons to teach each month, along with a variety of family and child activities. Each lesson takes about 30-45 minutes and requires minimal preparation for the parent. At the once-a-month parish family Sunday group educational sessions will include with icebreakers, presentation notes, discussion questions and answers, and step-by-step instructions for activities in either English or Spanish. Our group leaders will help you know, understand and explain your faith, so that you can pass it on to your children in a personal way.
Are their age limits for this program?
This program focuses on teaching parents how to make the faith organic to family life. So, it is perfect for parents with children of all ages. For example, a monthly feature called “Your Catholic Home” gives specific advice on how to make the Faith a part of daily life. The Children’s Activity Books are recommended for children in grades K-8, and features engaging activities at various grade levels. Parents can skip the activities they believe are too elementary or too advanced for their child.
Does my child have to be a strong reader?
No. Although readings and written activities are offered, the Children’s Activity Book and Parent’s Guide offer a wide variety of activities using numerous strategies to impart and assess knowledge that do not rely on reading or writing.
How many meetings at church does the new Family of Faith program require?
TWO. We recommend and provide everything you need for two meetings per month: one 90-minute parents only session early in the month, and a second 90-minute community meeting after Sunday Mass near the end of the month. The first 90-minute session helps parents deepen their knowledge of the Faith. Entire families attend the 90-minute community meeting, help ensure accountability, and build community through games and other family activities.
When parents are in their session, who will watch our children?
Great question! We will provide babysitters for your little kids on the First Sundays’ educational sessions, and when we have sacramental preparation. Babysitting will be free of charge. When you register please let us know the number and ages of the children so we can get the appropriate staff of babysitters.
Does this mean that we have to go to Mass too?
The Church’s greatest gift is participation in the power and presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is a great privilege to attend Mass, which expresses everything about our faith, because there Christ Himself offers himself to God and makes himself present for us. That is why the Catholic Church, not just St. Mary the Angels, requires attendance at Sunday Mass as a minimum requirement for all Catholics. It also brings families together. Statistics show that families who go to Mass regularly stay together, even in our crazy world. God gives peace and strengthen families through Mass and the sacraments. We want that for you and your families. That is why family attendance at Mass is an important part of our program.
How will I know my children are learning?
You will undoubtedly see your children learn as they learn Scripture verses and how to define key words of our Catholic Faith. Their conversations will reflect their understanding as well as their service projects, enriched prayer life, and a loving relationship with Christ. The child’s desire to know, love, and serve Jesus is proof that they are learning and becoming a disciple of Christ.
Why do I have to join my child in learning these things? They are the ones preparing for the sacraments, not me!
Your children already learn from you in so many ways! It is what kids do, learn from their parents. Kids experience Christ and his love best through those they love and know, not strangers. You will do that even better as you learn the Faith. Additionally, you will understand and love your own faith better, and pass your love of Christ to them, while facing life’s challenges.
How will I know if my children are doing the work?
This is the program’s best feature: YOU get to see every stage of your child’s progress with no “middle man.” All work is done within the family, as “family time” and a family project. Everyone in the family gets to participate, increasing the knowledge and love of Christ in the whole family, while increasing family bonding and solidarity.
How does the program ensure family accountability?
The program contains several ways. For example:
- Families have a year-long project that they will add to each month. Parents will bring in these projects occasionally to check progress.
- Each Community meeting begins with a Question-and-Answer session, which gives us a view of what each child and family has learned.
- Finally, the last session of the year features a fun and interactive games with dozens of questions covering content from the whole year.
How about first Sacraments (First Confession, Communion, and Confirmation)? I don’t feel comfortable preparing my kids for that.
We will help! Special one-month sessions on Thursday evenings will be dedicated to prepare both you and your children for those sacraments—you and your child will receive them together on those important days. As the entire family grows in the faith through the four-year Family of Faith program, each member will advance in their spiritual journey together through regular activities: prayer, Mass, and parish life. Children will learn that religion is not just something to put up with on Sundays, or the sacraments as an isolated rite of passage, but an essential part of their ongoing lives.
How will the sacramental preparation work?
Before 1st CONFESSION, parents and students will attend three special educational sessions on the first three Thursdays of March. Sessions will be 90 minutes in length. On the fourth Thursday of March, after a brief instructional session, the parents will accompany their children as they make their First Confession; parents too will have the opportunity to go to Confession in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Before 1st COMMUNION, parents and students will attend special 90-minute sessions on the four Thursdays of April. On the last session will include First Communion Practice for parents and children. First Communion Mass will be celebrated on the last Saturday of April, with the parents having the opportunity to receive Holy Communion with their children.
Before CONFIRMATION, candidates will attend special 90-minute sessions on Sundays, beginning with the opening of the school year (end of August) through October. Confirmation candidates must also experience a one-day retreat. On the second week of November, the candidates will be Confirmed at a special parish Mass. Although the parents do not attend the special Confirmation instruction, the families of all candidates for Confirmation at St. Mary of the Angels must be participants in the Family of Faith program during the school year.
Will there still be First Communion and Confirmation celebrations?
Yes. As a “family of families,” St. Mary of the Angels has a long-standing tradition of the entire parish celebrating in a solemn way these important sacraments as memorable events for our students and their families.
Why do the Confirmation candidates have so many classes?
With Confirmation, candidates are taking responsibility for their own Christian life, spiritual growth, and to make an impact in the world with their faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit will confirm him or her in the faith. To meet the challenges of an anti-Christian world, Christians need a very solid formation. Candidates for Confirmation need to have participated for four consecutive years in the Family of Faith program or its equivalent.
What happens in the family social meeting at the last Sundays of each month?
The aim of this Sunday is to encounter Jesus Christ: first by joining in his sacrifice and receiving his Real Presence in the Mass. We then express our Communion in Christ by family togetherness, and with togetherness with other Christian families. After family Mass, our families will benefit from sharing food and group activities with other families who share our faith. These activities will vary, including social gatherings at St. Mary of the Angels, at parks, or service to the poor and needy, etc.
It is important to brings the family together with Christian activities, to meet other Catholic families, and build solid friendships with each other and with Christ. This will safeguard our families from the many things that divide us and help St. Mary of the Angels thrive as a “family of families.”
I work on Sundays! Does that mean I can’t participate?
It may happen that one parent or the other may have to miss a session due to work or some emergency. In that case, the other parent should attend. This is a family formational program. It works best with both parents participating. Minimally, one adult who permanently resides with the child should be there at each Sunday event, as it is the family who will be teaching the students their lessons. Please keep in mind that this program is only operating on two Sundays each month. Try to schedule your time to make this program feasible for your family.
If a parent misses the Sunday sessions, does that mean his or her child can’t receive the Sacraments?
The pastor is responsible for assuring a child or adult is properly prepared to receive the sacraments. The Family of Faith program is oriented toward family spiritual development, not just “processing” students on Sundays, and preparing the members of the family together for those sacraments. If families are not attending and not doing the lessons with their students, then they cannot be admitted to the sacraments until this preparation is completed, perhaps by tutoring, a Catholic school program, etc.
What if I don’t want to do this? Is my children’s years of CCD here wasted?
Every family’s needs are unique. We respect your freedom and judgment about what is your own family. If another parish’s CCD program better fits your family, we will give you a certificate verifying the classes your child attended the CCD program here at St. Mary of the Angels.
How much does the Family of Faith program cost?
As this is a family program, tuition is assessed per family, rather than for individual. Costs are:
- $250 per family cost, which includes the books and training per year. This applies no matter how many children you have in the program.
Extra charges for sacramental preparation:
- $40 per student receiving First Confession.
- $50 per student receiving First Communion.
- $75 per student receiving Confirmation.
Do I have to pay for the Family of Faith program all at once?
No. We ask that $100 be paid at registration. The remainder, including special sacramental fees outlined above, should be paid by January 1, 2021. If there is a serious family financial hardship, partial scholarships can be requested by application.
How do I enroll in the Family of Faith program?
There are several ways:
- Fill out the enrollment form and bring it with your initial deposit to the parish office ANYTIME during business hours after June 1.
- Enroll online, using the computer form accessible on the parish website, and payable by credit card or debit card.
- Enroll in person on the opening day of the Family of Faith on Sunday, August 27, 2023.
PLEASE NOTE: FAMILY OF FAITH APPLICATIONS ARE CLOSED ON AUGUST 27, 2023. It will not be possible to enroll is this year’s program after that point, so kindly enroll as soon as possible, if interested.