F.A.I.T.H. on FIRE

F.A.I.T.H. Community Events At Holy Name of Jesus, Stratford

On the morning of October 27th, a day that would have been recognizable to Noah as the time to batten down the hatches and set out on his epic, divine-inspired cruise, Faith Formation students, Parents, Family Members and Friends converged at Holy Name of Jesus for the 2nd monthly F.A.I.T.H. Community Event!

F.A.I.T.H. (Family Activities In The Hall) Community Events, made possible through a generous grant from the JPII Foundation, are intergenerational gatherings that explore various aspects of our Faith through catechesis, liturgy, discussion, media and service. The ‘theme’ for this school year, introduced at the September F.A.I.T.H. Community Event is Catholic Social Teaching. The focus for our October event was Respect for Life and the Dignity of ALL as Children of God.

On the weekend of October 1-2, in conjunction with Respect Life Sunday, students in various levels assisted at our Parish’s annual Blessing of the Animals and participated in the re-dedication ceremony of our Knight’s of Columbus chapter’s Monument to the Unborn. In addition, our youth preparing for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist and those preparing for Confirmation engaged the wider Parish community by inviting them to participate in Service Projects they initiated.

Our Level 2 youth sponsored Rosary Intention Pledge Cards in recognition of October as a month dedicated to our Blessed Mother. The Free Will offerings collected will be used to purchase socks, hats and gloves for the homeless living under the John Street overpass. Simultaneously, our Confirmation candidates organized and managed our participation in Cross Catholic Outreach’s ‘Boxes of Joy’ campaign – a drive that helps to provide gifts at Christmas to children in impoverished areas of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Through these Service Projects our youth are learning first hand the meaning and importance of our Lord’s command to ‘Feed the Hungry…’ BOTH Service Pro- jects were greatly successful.

Building on the lessons learned and the success of these Service Projects, our entire Faith Formation community gathered in Church on the 27th for the 11:00 Mass and then ran through the torrential rain to the Parish Hall for a light lunch and a series of presentations and activities designed to give them a greater appreciation of their own dignity and a fuller aware- ness of the ways we can and must be more respectful to all.

After a short introduction to the many aspects of Respect Life, we re- minded everyone that the ‘only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!’ In other words, since this topic is so enormous, we would be focusing on some of the general themes that could then be applied to most other situations.

Our first order of business was to confront our own biases and prejudices– the ways we consciously or unconsciously disrespect others. The video “Change For A Dollar?” proved to be a powerful aid in achieving this goal! We then split off our attendees in order to address topics in an age-appropriate way. Levels K-3 took on the topic of Respect at home and among our friends. Level 4-9 were led through activities and discussion focusing on Respect for Self and dangers that exist which attack the dignity of others.

Parents and other adults heard presentations and entered into dialogue on how to protect, guide and form our youth (their children ) in safe, dignified and respectful ways.Nancy Lucas presented an overview of the main points of our Diocesan Safe Environments initiative, encouraging all to attend one of the full workshops. Tammy Trojanowski from the town of Stratford Community Services Office gave an overview of resources available to assist and strengthen youth and families.

Among many inspiring and though provoking messages offered, the overriding theme was BE INFORMED…BE INVOLVED…BE ATTENTIVE…BE PROACTIVE! Our time together climaxed with laughter, awareness and energy as Maggie and Tony from Interactive Educational Theatre, Inc. led us through skits aimed at giving us all a better understanding of the negative affects of mean-spirited behavior and the skills to not only combat such behavior, but how to be the catalyst to change it for the good! With many resources under their arms to continue the conversations at home, our time together ended as it began…in Prayer! We hope that the words of St. Theresa of Avila will help inspire everyone to Respect the great gift of Life!