As a follow-up to my post last week kicking off the Year of Faith, I would like to share some ideas designed for Catholic schools and parish religious education programs and youth groups looking for ways to celebrate this special year.
The Year of Faith, as Pope Benedict XVI explained in his 2011 apostolic letter, Porta Fidei (the Door of Faith), is a time for Catholics “to deepen faith and strengthen bonds with God.” This is a perfect opportunity to enhance stewardship education in our parish schools and religious education programs by offering unique and distinctive programs and offerings closely related to stewardship and faith.
While many parishes have already launched initiatives or made plans in relation to the Year of Faith, Catholic Stewardship Consultants would like to share with you these 15 examples to enhance faith and stewardship efforts with the young people of your parish.
- Make the Year of Faith the central theme for all school activities during the year.
- A key aspect of stewardship is gratitude. Launch a “thank you” note campaign, in which the students write and mail “thank you” notes to parents, godparents, clergy, and other significant people in their faith lives.
- Encourage students to attend Mass with a parent or parents each weekend.
- Consider fundraisers for charities on four levels: the local community; someplace in the diocese; someplace in the United States; and someplace in the world other than the U.S.
- Establish a school Stewardship Committee, including representatives from all grades, to plan and carry out stewardship and Year of Faith activities.
- Invite the priests and deacons of the parish to come to each class for the purpose of a dialogue, an interview if you will, relating to faith, evangelization, and stewardship.
- Expand opportunities for personal and group prayer. Also afford students more opportunities to be prayer leaders. Each class might pray a decade of the rosary each day or each week.
- Identify a saint each week (preferably during a week in which his or her Feast Day occurs). Set aside time to learn about that saint, and then discuss how the saint lived out his or her faith, and how he or she was a good example of stewardship.
- Hold a poster contest urging students to draw a logo for the school’s Year of Faith effort.
- During school Masses or assemblies, identify a section of the Creed, highlight and explain it.
- Involve students with parent organizations, with a goal of having a student presentation on faith at each parent group meeting.
- Consider a morning or afternoon retreat for students in grades 6-12 during which the emphasis will be stewardship, faith, and evangelization.
- Provide teacher in-service with the focus on stewardship and the Year of Faith.
- Have each class prepare a Year of Faith display.
- Consider a pilgrimage to some significant Catholic shrine or location in the area — perhaps to the diocesan mother church — the cathedral.
This list is only a small sample of possibilities. Creativity, imagination, and inclusion of ideas from the staff and students themselves will increase the list considerably.
If there is anything we can do to help you with your Year of Faith stewardship efforts in your parish, please feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com.