When parents drop their kids off on Sunday mornings for Xavier Kids Ministry, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not your typical religious education class. Rather than kids entering individual classrooms where they are expected to sit and learn as they do in their normal school days, kids are welcomed into a fun, colorful, and exciting environment with singing, games, and activities that appeal to the kids ranging from preschool to fifth grade.
“We really are trying to move away from the classroom model,” says Jacob Farni. “Our approach for the younger grades is more geared toward a youth group style. We begin with singing praises to God, prayer, and Bible readings. Then we divide into small groups so we can break open the teaching into age-appropriate levels for the kids.”
A small change that will be happening this next year is that the big group will be divided into two age groups. Xavier Kids Discover will be for kids pre-K to second grade and Xavier Kids will be for third through fifth grades. This will help the children to be able to do more engaging, age-appropriate activities.
The church of St. Francis Xavier believes that one of its most important missions is to support parents in raising their children in the Catholic faith. Xavier Kids Ministry is a direct result of that mission.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule” (2223).
Teaching our children the richness of the Catholic faith begins in the home. It begins with parents modeling love, forgiveness, and respect for others. It begins with parents striving to have a meaningful relationship with God. From that foundation, children pray with their parents. They see the importance of faith in their parents’ everyday lives. With that understanding and connection in place, the Xavier Kids Ministry strives to enrich their lives with another source of education on God’s love for His beloved Church.
“Our approach is to help families in their formation of their children — to help form them into young disciples and grow in their faith,” Jacob says. “We cannot fill the role that parents have in one hour a week. We are to be complementary to their formation at home and really support parents as they seek to raise their children.”
So when children walk into Xavier Kids Ministry, they are welcomed and engaged. They are given a space to move and just be kids while also learning about how much God loves them and what the Catholic Church is all about.
“We strive to have our team members know the children on a personal level, so they feel seen and known,” Jacob says. “We understand who they are and where they are at and we can appeal to them in a way that is healthy and good.”
Last year’s theme was “You Are a Child of God,” and lessons each week were centered on that theme. The kids were taught how they are part of a family and how deeply God loves them as His children. This year’s theme, “Be Holy as Your Father in Heaven Is Holy,” will build on that as well.
“We will really be leaning into what it means to be a saint and to strive for holiness,” Jacob says.
To have a successful year, it is vital to have a great team behind Xavier Kids Ministry. The more volunteers that they can have on hand, the smoother things run.
“The requirements to be a part of the team are not complicated,” Jacob says. “You must be a practicing Catholic and you must enjoy having a genuine relationship with Jesus. We want the children who walk into Xavier Kids to see how having a relationship with Jesus helps us to be joyful and hopeful, even through suffering.
“Living your faith is serious but it leads us to joy,” he adds. “It is important that we demonstrate that and actively live it out as an example to the kids.
Registration for Xavier Kids is open on the parish website.
Anyone interested in serving with the Xavier Kids Ministry is welcome to stop in to visit with Jacob Farni in the parish office. You can also contact Jacob at 405-372-6886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.