LEXINGTON—The novel coronavirus pandemic has turned education upside down, including religious education programs.
Parish organizers are still learning new ways to teach everyone, from kids to adults, as classes are presented in an online format.
At Corpus Christi Church, they took it as an opportunity to completely overhaul their whole approach to religious education.
On Sept. 14, the parish launched “Families With Christ,” a religious education program that engages parishioners of all ages in learning the fundamental truths of the faith.
Each week, participants focus on a core concept presented online, then study it further at home. The online classes are supplemented with in-person question-and-answer sessions each week, prayer services and family Holy Hours in the church. The program is open to everyone and currently has 583 people enrolled.
Father Joseph Romanoski, pastor, said he first learned about community catechesis programs like “Families with Christ” 10 years ago when he was still serving in New Jersey.
“I talked with other priests who had this type of program in their parishes, and they told me how it changes the whole parish makeup, how it gets families more committed and involved in the parish,” he said. “There will be some push back because it’s a change and people don’t like change, but I believe for a lot of people this is going to be a game changer for the better.”
Father Romanoski said one of the most important goals is motivating families to start attending Mass together again. He said he’s noticed in recent years that a growing number of parents will drop off their children at church for religious education during the week, but not come to Mass as a family on the weekends. Since public Masses resumed at Corpus Christi, he said attendance numbers have not bounced back.
“We understand that people are concerned and understand that many still need to stay home, but it’s difficult to say you have a problem going out in public to Mass if you are going to other places and sending your kids to school,” he said. “We want people to realize that Mass is the most important part of our life as Catholics.”
Father Romanoski said the novel coronavirus provided a perfect catalyst to try the program because the parish currently can’t offer in-person learning due to insufficient classroom space for social distancing. The goal is to resume in-person classes in 2021, and to create a way for all “Families With Christ” participants to meet at least once a month.
Preparation for sacraments such as confirmation and Holy Communion, as well as RCIA, will be done through “Families With Christ” until in-person teaching can resume.
The core text is “The Apostolate’s Family Catechism,” by the late Father Lawrence Lovasik. Each chapter presents concepts about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, and other aspects of the Church through a question-and-answer format supported with Scripture passages, quotes from the Catechism and other approved sources.
Those who have questions about the material can submit them for a weekly “Q&A with Father Joe”, which is held in the church at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Families can also take a weekly online assessment, sort of like a “quiz,” which shows how well they grasp the material.
Guillermo Ramis, pastoral associate at Corpus Christi, Scott Kramer, director of faith formation, and other committee members helped develop the program. Ramis said “Families with Christ” offers a chance for everyone in the parish to become more involved in their faith and actively promotes the family as the domestic Church.
“We want to help parents realize and understand their responsibility of being the main catechists for their children,” Ramis said. “That’s the responsibility they take on when they make that promise at their child’s baptism.”
To learn more about Families with Christ, visit https://www.corpuschristisc.org/families-with-christ.html