Monday, 20 June 2016

Growing families in faith

When we enrol a new child at St Joseph's Catholic school in Oamaru, we say we enrol the whole family. We place emphasis on building quality family relationships and recognise the important knowledge parents have as their children's first teachers.

Our Special Catholic Character Committee discussed ways to be inclusive and supportive for new and existing families in the area of Catholicity and faith development. This conversation flowed on from our new parish based approach to Sacramental meetings for parents. There was a need to ensure that families understand that when they commit to enrolling in a Catholic school, they are committing their full support for a Catholic education for their children.

Some of our families asked for explicit guidance on how they could support their children in the Catholic faith. Some families wished to become involved in the Church and weren't sure how to go about it.

We decided that attending Welcome (Induction) meetings would be a good starting point for our families before committing and completing the formal enrolment process. These meetings reflect the Catholic ethos of the school. The meetings begin and finish with a prayer and link to gospel vision and values.

This is the process that we follow at our meetings: Our Parishioners (also Proprietors Rep on our board), school chaplain/ parish priest and the principal are all present at the meeting.

Welcome and introductions. Each participant has a nametag. Set up a prayer table and ensure a welcoming environment.
Prayer - Induction prayer
Share reasons for wanting your children to be part of St Joseph’s school ( in small groups if large group is too big).
School Vision and Values (linked to scripture) & children's induction cards
What does it mean to be Catholic?
-  We believe in God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit
- We believe in the creator of the universe
- We give thanks to God for everything
- We worship as a community
The school is a Praying Community
Prayer takes place a) in the classroom b) the hall c) the church Special Catholic character permeates the whole day
Ways you can support your children
- Talk with children about prayer Family Prayer p13 Family Whanau Book
-  Read the weekly special character blog to keep informed
-  Support the Religious Education Programme
Religious Education Programme
How can we support you and your children in your faith journey?
Family Prayer (from the Family Whanau Book)
Signing of the enrolment papers

As a result of having a couple of these meetings, the school and the Parish have built important connections with the families. Some of our new families have been interested in attending the Baptism Information meetings and have begun to attend mass on the weekends.

We understand that small steps of support and encouragement lead to new learning and opportunities for planting and watering the seeds of faith. We need to be proactively listening to our families and work collaboratively as school and parish to ensure relationships with our families are faith filled.

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