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A New Approach to Faith Formation at St. Denis


A New Approach to Faith Formation at St. Denis

Teaching children, teens, and adults how to have
a close, personal relationship with Jesus

Up until now, St. Denis’s faith-formation programs (Religious Education, Teen Confirmation, and Adult Confirmation) have focused mainly on preparing our children, teens, and adults to receive the sacraments, such as First Holy Communion, Confession, and Confirmation.  But we need to do more than prepare them for the sacraments—we need to prepare them for the rest of their lives.  Otherwise, like 80% of Catholics, they probably will stop attending Mass every week; they will stop receiving the sacraments; and they will stop practicing the faith.

Therefore, starting this year, our faith-formation programs—in addition to preparing children, teens, and adults for the sacraments—will teach them how to have a close, personal relationship with Jesus.  Jesus is with each of us through Baptism and through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  And he wants to have a close, one-on-one relationship with us every day for the rest of our lives.  Unfortunately, most Catholics don’t know this; and they don’t know how to develop or maintain such a relationship with Jesus.

Thus, from now on our faith-formation programs will intentionally and explicitly help the children, teens, and adults develop a close, personal relationship with Jesus.  Specifically, we will teach them how to meet Jesus in the Bible; in prayer; in the sacraments (such as First Holy Communion and Confession); in our faith community (including the parish and our Christian family); and in the poor, the sick, and the needy (Matthew 25:31-46). 

In addition, we will teach everyone in faith formation that a real relationship with Jesus involves give and take—a back-and-forth dynamic.  For example, in prayer, we talk with Jesus throughout each day; and he communicates with us through the Holy Spirit.  We talk with him about our daily cares and worries, about the good and bad things in our lives, and the decisions that we have to make.  And he communicates with us, helps and accompanies us, and leads and guides us every step of the way.  Moreover, when we have a close, one-on-one relationship with Jesus, we are never really alone or lonely because Jesus is with us and is there for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I am working closely with our faith-formation directors and catechists to do all that we can to teach the children, teens, and adults how to have a real relationship with Jesus.  For example, each week, we will testify about our own close, personal relationship with Jesus by giving them a concrete example from the past few days about how we communicated with Jesus and how he communicated with us.  In particular, we will share some of the details of that communication, including whether we asked Jesus to help us or a loved one in some way, how Jesus may have answered our prayer, whether Jesus asked us to do something for him, and whether we followed through and did what he wanted us to do.  Thus, those in faith formation will start to realize that having personal relationship with Jesus is normal and happens every day, not just occasionally or on special occasions.

Furthermore, through weekly assignments, we will lead those is faith formation step by step to develop and grow in their own relationship with Jesus—e.g., by teaching them how to pray throughout each day, how to communicate with Jesus and how he communicates with them, how to discern what Jesus is calling them to do in their everyday lives, and why they need to follow through and do what Jesus wants them to do.

Everyone who leads faith formation at St. Denis is excited about this new approach; and during this new academic year, we look forward to preparing the children, teens, and adults not only for their sacraments, but also for the rest of their lives.

Please pray for everyone who is involved in St. Denis’s faith-formation programs, including the faith-formation directors, the catechists, and the children, teens, and adults.  In particular, please pray that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us in everything, that He will protect us from all harm, and that He will draw us into a closer and deeper relationship with Jesus.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. John

P.S.  To enroll your child (pre-K through grade 8) in Religious Education, to enroll your high-school teen in Teen Confirmation, or to enroll yourself in Adult Confirmation, please click on the links in the “Faith Formation” section on the front page of our website.  


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