Youth ministry initiative teaches parents to be ‘intentional disciples’
The Michigan Catholic
Port Huron — It’s a parent’s responsibility to raise their child in the faith.
At baptism, parents take on the role of teaching their children how to pray, telling them they are loved by God and what it means to live as a follower of Jesus Christ.
But as children mature, so must their relationship with Jesus.
That’s where “Passing on the Faith,” an Archdiocese of Detroit initiative from the Office of Youth Ministry, comes in.
“The presentation is designed for parents whose children are going through formation, geared to help parents think of creative ways to inspire the faith in their own children,” said Laura Piccone-Hanchon, associate director of youth ministry for the archdiocese. “What we find is that parents already know how to pass on the faith; it’s not new stuff, but we rethink the way they are living out the faith in everyday life.”
The Office of Youth Ministry has given 71 “Passing on the Faith” presentations at 67 different parishes, usually designed for parents of children about to be confirmed. The presentation offers parents an understanding of the experiences and challenges young people might face with their faith.
“Parents need to be continually developing their own personal relationship with Jesus,” Piccone-Hanchon said. “We address ways they and their child can continue to grow in their relationship, emphasizing that faith is not a destination, but a journey.”
Piccone-Hanchon said parents who attend the workshop are already familiar with the material presented, but come across a new way of thinking about how to pray and live out the faith at home.
Stacy Britz of St. Mary Parish in Port Huron attended the presentation for her son Stephen’s confirmation class.
“What I took from the presentation was how important it is that actions are stronger than words,” Britz said. “It was nice to hear how important it is for kids to see you do these things.”
Britz said she felt she had a good handle on teaching the faith to her children from attending weekly Mass, but the presentation offered resources that explained how to tackle some of the “deeper topics.”
“They offered a lot of resources that I didn’t know,” Britz said. “There is always more to learn, more than daily Mass. You read the Bible, you know what the Bible says is right or wrong. But it doesn’t always give details about certain things. So it’s nice to have the added resources.”
Susan Tetreau of St. Mary Parish also attended the session as part of her daughter Amber’s confirmation process.
“The biggest thing they focused on was how important it was to set a good example for your child,” Tetreau said. “It’s fine we are sending them to catechism and classes, but as parents, we need to live by example.”
After attending Passing on the Faith, Tetreau said her family has placed a greater emphasis on praying together before going to bed and having a Bible in the living room.
“We always say prayer before meals, but I remember growing up and my dad used to read the Bible to everybody,” Tetreau said. “But we didn’t do that. So the class kind of told us to take it up a notch now that our children are getting older. Now I have my Bible up in the living room.”
Piccone-Hanchon said there is no one way to guarantee a child will keep the faith, but creating disciples always involves joyfully living out one’s faith with intention.
“I have a 13-year-old daughter, and every time we pass an auto accident, we pray out loud,” Piccone-Hanchon said. “It’s second nature right now, but requires some intentionality. It’s about living our days through a Catholic lens.”