By Carolina Scipioni
When Masses and all parish activities were suspended in March, everyone needed to think quickly and reinvent their ministry to continue to reach out to the community. Catherine Campbell, Director of Faith Formation at St. Nicholas and St. William Catholic Parish, and her group of catechists were also in that situation. “Continuing to form children and youth in their faith in the same way as we always have, was out of the question,” Catherine shared. In a rush, everyone started doing their own thing, trying to reach out to their group in whatever way was possible.
She soon noticed that one of the Catechists had created a simple website, and she was intrigued. She started learning about it and realized how easy it was to create this tool and how beneficial it could be for kids, parents, and catechists alike to have everything in one place. Catherine acknowledged that besides great intentions, the process was disjointed with assignments and communications all over the place.
Before becoming a director, Catherine was a catechist for 14 years, and she understood that every catechist was probably struggling with the same thing. So, as she was discovering how to create a simple website for herself, she decided to start documenting the process. in case someone asked her. Before she knew it, she was recording a tutorial to help anyone in the Diocese create a site to continue Faith Formation in their parishes.
Eleanor De Paz, Director of Faith Formation at St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish, shared that Catherine’s video not only helped her start her website, but also inspired her to use technology in new ways to reach out to her families. Eleanor now uses online conferencing tools, videos, and online forms as an assessment tool to plan her lessons accordingly. “I have to admit,” Eleanor says, “that I was very nervous at first, because traditionally, we have only used books and face-to-face instructions for faith formation. However, Catherine’s video was the bridge for me, and I’m grateful.”
“Parents are now more involved than ever in their children’s faith formation, and they appreciate all the new ways we are providing to continue to build the domestic Church at home,” says Catherine. “Catechists record their lessons, provide assignments, and even fun activities to do as a family.”
Both Catherine and Eleanor highlighted the importance of sharing best practices with each other, and even more in this time of crisis. Catechists throughout the Diocese have a shared goal of bringing Christ to every home in Santa Clara County, and collaboration helps make it happen.
As for the future of Faith Formation, they both agree that it will never be the same. “It could only be better,” Eleanor says. “We have learned so much in this process, and even the publishers are learning and adapting to provide hybrid lessons now!”
But, as Catherine puts it, “Our job is to not only teach the faith, but also to provide the gift and peace of Christ. The most important thing that we can teach the kids at this time of increased anxiety is simply that God is there with them.”