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Education Features

Convocation brings guidance on parents role in faith formation


The diocesan Faith Formation Department welcomed vicars forane, pastors, catechetical leaders, principals, catechists, Catholic school religion teachers, and youth ministers to a convocation on a broad section of subjects dealing with catechetical programming.

Dr. Kathie Adamei, author and pastoral minister from Milwaukee, spoke at a Faith Formation Convocation on the role parents play in their children’s faith formation. The July 26 gathering held at Canisius High School, saw several speakers address Family Faith Formation topics. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

Among the many speakers was Dr. Kathie Amadei, catechetical consultant for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who spoke on the role of parents in faith formation.

Family Faith Formation has been a directive of the Diocese of Buffalo since 2017, when parents were asked to be included in the formation of their children.

“As lay ecclesial ministers, we are all called to accompany parents in the task of being the primary educators of the faith,” Lisa Benzer, director of Faith Formation for the diocese, explained while introducing Amadei.

Amadei offered a glimpse into the parents’ role in their children’s faith life.

“With children as young as the age of 10 becoming disaffiliated with the faith, catechesis can no longer take the form of dropping off, handing parents books for homeschooling, or giving parents an online resource to do at home,” she said.

The family needs to be equipped with opportunities to learn together in community, attend Mass, engage in age-appropriate class time for children, celebrate the liturgical year, participate in small group discussions for adults, and enjoy opportunities for service in the parish and community.

Through her 30 years of studies, parish life, and experiences with her own children, Amadei has pondered how faith is passed on in families. The primary catechists are the parents. The USCCB document “Follow the Way of Love,” states, “Love brought you to life as a family. Love sustains you through good times and bad times.” 

“What you do in your family to create a community of love, to help each other to grow, to serve those in need. It is critical not only for your own sanctification, but for the strength of society in our Church,” Amadei said.

While earning a master’s at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, Amadei came to see the power of partnering with parents in faith development.

“It is imperative that we recognize that without parent involvement faith formation will be less and largely ineffective,” she said.

While serving as a pastoral associate, she used her parish as a laboratory. She found the family model of Faith Formation to be a game changer. It continues to grow after 28 years in her parish.

A balloon rosary added to the atmosphere of the Faith Formation Convocation. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

She got parents involved by speaking to their needs, not the parish needs.

“As a church we need to speak to their needs as parents,” she said. “What parents are looking for is, they are looking for faith that they can give their children, that their children would be able to hold onto in crisis or in difficult or traumatic times of their lives. Parents today know that bad things happen to good people. You just have to look at the nightly news once in a while and you know that. Parents are looking for something beyond their love that will hold their children together, that will sustain them on the worst day of their life and be there on the best day of their life.

“The other thing parents are looking for is a moral north star for their children. Children are exposed to so many different moral codes so early in their life before we can root them in our Catholic Christian moral code. So, parents are looking for help with that.

“When we talked to them about those things… they come, and they stay, and they listen, and they participate.”

Sticky Faith curriculum suggests integrating generations produces hugely positive effects, and having family ritual and prayer time.

“We want to talk about faith and have examples of practicing the faith,” Amedi said, adding the spiritual lives of children are based on spiritual lives of their parents.

To sum her talk, Amedia said, “Parents are not the problem. Parents are the solution.”


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