The Forming Disciples in the New Evangelization
The Forming Disciples Standards (2022) will be used in parishes and Catholic elementary schools throughout the Diocese of Buffalo. Its intended use is for children of elementary school age (K-8th Gr); however, these guidelines are easily adaptable for use in the inter-generational family formation setting.
These standards examine the tasks of catechesis which serve to form our children and families, so that the Faith is lived in our families, parish congregations, neighborhoods, and greater community. The purpose of religious education is best summed up in this passage from the General Directory of Catechesis:
“Who has encountered Christ desires to know him as much as possible, as well as to know the plan of the Father which he revealed. Knowledge of the faith (fides quae) is required by adherence to the faith (fides qua). (252) Even in the human order the love which one person has for another causes that person to wish to know the other all the more. Catechesis, must, therefore, lead to ‘the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan’, (253) by introducing the disciples of Jesus to a knowledge of Tradition and of Scripture, which is ‘the sublime science of Christ.’ (254) By deepening knowledge of the faith, catechesis nourishes not only the life of faith but equips it to explain itself to the world. The meaning of the Creed, which is a compendium of Scripture and of the faith of the Church, is the realization of this task. (General Directory of Catechesis no. 85.)
Modules These modules may be used to support the formation of the faithful in both Religious Education and Catholic School settings.
Children + parents meet 1x month in the parish community
Children are then dropped off to Religious Education program (2x /month)
Children + parents meet 1x month in the parish community
Children are then taught Religious Education lessons by their parents in a family environment 2x month – monthly homework assignments must be produced each month demonstrating comprehension of material.
Children + parents meet 2x month in community with approximately 6 other Catholic families from the parish. It is recommended that families gather together in the home, nearby park, or community center / parish hall. Parents will have the opportunity to teach children the faith, based on lessons, resources, activities, and games which are provided by the parish Religious Education Department. Monthly homework assignments are produced each month demonstrating comprehension of material. Participation in Mass and liturgical/ social activities with parish community are encouraged.
Children + parents meet 1x month in community
Children along with their parent/guardian are invited to use the parish online resource that is to be completed 2 x month. Monthly homework assignments are produced, online, demonstrating comprehension of material.
Children + parents meet 1x/ month in community
Parents and children, meet together in parish community to learn about the Faith together!
Students meet 2-3x / month in parish community to learn and share the faith with trained Catechists. Mentor groups are encouraged. It is suggested that the same catechist work with the same small grouping of teens in order to promote trust and accountability among their peers.
Best Practices for Family Involvement in Religious Education at both settings (parish religious education & Catholic schools):
- Utilize the same curriculum in religious education and the Catholic school
- Programs for family engagement
- Frequent liturgical and Sacramental celebrations
- Daily Prayer
- Highlight Lives of the Saints
- Service Projects
- Integration with Catholic School activities
- Weekend Mass attendance – Opportunities to participate in the mass: greeters, choir, readers, offertory, ushers, altar servers
- Shared Religious Ed and Catholic School participation in parish and liturgical activities (reference Devotional Calendar), Advent services, Nativity plays, Stations of the cross, Adoration/ Benediction, First Friday, First Saturday, field trips to shrines and holy Catholic landmarks are encouraged
- Family Volunteer: In-reach and outreach methods
- 7-12th Grade Service project: students come up with their own projects to give back to the parish community: painting, planting, cleaning, weeding, free-standing food pantry boxes, rosary garden, etc. Students are also encouraged to volunteer at local nursing homes and food pantries. Service projects may also consist of students teaming up with national organizations which also seek to assist the needs of others.
- Shared Reconciliation opportunities (2x/year) for both Rel Ed and Catholic school families to participate during Advent and Lent
Family Resources to Connect Faith to Sunday Liturgy
Protecting God's Children
Everyone who works with children or vulnerable adults needs to be in compliance with VIRTUS (Protecting God’s Children).
Children are required to receive awareness training too; we currently use the “Empowering God’s Children” program.
The deadline to report this training is Nov 1st.
All reporting is done online through the VIRTUS system. For more information, contact your VIRTUS administrator.
Planning for the Future
COVID-19 Guidelines: At this time we ask that you follow CDC guidelines and your local county guidelines. For additional guidance from the Diocese please go to: www.buffalodiocese.org/coronavirus
Formation Models: Great resources from our friends in the Diocese of Rochester and Syracuse
Sacramental Information: The Diocese of Buffalo policies on sacraments
For Leaders: Planning your Faith Formation year and beyond can be challenging! Check out some of these resources for ideas and best practices. Can’t find what you’re looking for? New and need guidance? Contact us at 716-847-8760 for assistance!