From special needs ministry to home study, the Sacred Heart Parish’s religious education program is tailored to the needs of children and their families, regardless of age, language, and background.
The program provides individualized catechetical training to a diverse parish with immigrants from the Philippines, Africa, India and Latin America.
As the Archdiocese of Baltimore prepares to celebrate God’s Word Sunday as another thematic day for the Year of the Eucharist On January 23, the children of the Sacred Heart discover Jesus in the Scriptures through their religious education classes.
At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the director of the religious education program, Sister of Saint Joseph Cecilia Cyford, hoped that 150 children would register for face-to-face classes after the pandemic, but 74 children more than what. . she had planned to enroll in the program.
“A lot of people feel like they come to religious education just for the sacraments,” Sister Cecilia notes. “I kept telling them, ‘You should keep going until the end.’ Now our largest class is eighth grade with 16 students enrolled.
Father Gérard Francik, parish priest of the Sacred Heart, declared that “one hour a week is not enough”. Religious education must be nurtured within families and must be part of daily life.
The program caters for a total of 279 students, including 205 children in pre-K-8 classes in English and K-5 in Spanish in religious education, 20 students enrolled in two Rite of Christian English classes Initiation for Children (RCIC), 28 students enrolled in two CRIC Spanish classes and 26 enrolled in home family study. In addition, the parish offers the Montessori-based Good Shepherd catechesis program, summer vacation Bible study, and special needs ministry.
Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rosa Torres, who serves as a pastoral associate for Hispanic ministry in the Sacred Heart, explained the importance of learning from Scripture to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist.
“If you learn about his personality, his thoughts, his actions, how he approached people and taught them, you are going to love him and want to follow him,” Sister Rosa said, “and when you follow him you really will. believe that Jesus nourishes us with his love through the Eucharist.
Father Francik said he often said: “You have just heard the scriptures. What would you say if you had to preach about it? ”
The parish addresses each family according to its needs, says Sister Cécile. She remembers encouraging Hispanic parents to enroll their children in English classes.
“When the book is passed on to the children, many cannot read in Spanish because their schooling is in English,” said Sister Cecilia.
Sister Rosa explained that many Hispanic parents do not speak English and want their children to learn the faith in Spanish. Although they speak Spanish at home, the students read and write in English.
“Even though it can be difficult, I think the two cultures can be successfully integrated through religious education,” she said.
Inspired by the Year of the Eucharist, the parish began Wednesday evenings of adoration with confessions.
Sister Cecilia said that the nights of reconciliation are a great opportunity for families to live their faith together, especially for Hispanic families as all the priests in the parish are bilingual.
After 22 years in the ward and 12 years as director of the religious education program, Sister Cecilia retired on October 31. She will continue to volunteer as a religious education teacher and participate in the parish.
At a staff meeting in November, Father Francik announced that Emma Zanotelli was the new director of the religious education program.
“I am grateful that I have been able to help children and families grow in their faith,” said Sister Cecilia. “It has helped me grow in my faith too.”
Email Priscila González de Doran at [email protected]
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