Family (K-5th)

Family Faith Formation

St. Mary Catholic Faith Community made the switch from traditional classroom, child-only catechesis to the Family Formation model in the summer of 2023. Read on to learn more about this model and how we implement it at St. Mary.

Family Model of Catechesis

When it comes to children’s catechesis, we have grown accustomed to a certain model over the decades. We have formed certain habits, some better than others. The traditional model of formation has conditioned families and parents to act as mere chauffeur— leaving their kids at the parish to be taught while they have some free time. This is not a criticism of parents! Who among us would not take advantage of that? Rather, we know now that this robs parents of their rights and responsibilities in educating their own children.

The issue with this model is that it no longer works as well as it once did. The homogenous communities of decades ago, where the Faith was a part of daily life everywhere one turned their head, are gone. Our faith can become something that is linked to only a certain place (the local parish) rather than informing our own homes and families. Years of research shows that classroom catechesis does not help our kids remain Catholic into adulthood, but can become something to check off.

It is for this reason that many parishes are rediscovering the family model of catechesis, which has been around since the 1980s but has really taken off in the last ten or so years, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The family model of catechesis shifts the right to, and the responsibility of, teaching the Faith from the staff and catechists of the local parish to parents, with the unwavering support of their parish. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2223, tells us that parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. At St. Mary we believe and affirm that parents have both the responsibility and the right to be the first and most important catechists of their own children. 

How it Works

Families gather at the parish for catechesis twice per month (see the 2024-2025 calendar for dates). Our families share a meal, because Jesus shows us that eating together forms a community. They participate in a faith-centered learning activity together (this could be a game, arts and crafts, or taking part in a drama). Then, trained catechists offer age level breakout sessions using our chosen curriculum, the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. The four breakout levels are Preschool, Kinder and 1st Grade, 2nd and 3rd Grade, and 4th and 5th Grade.

While the breakouts are in session, parents and guardians participate in a talk or a lesson given by a member of our staff or a guest speaker. These talks may focus on Catholic parenting, the liturgical year, or common misunderstandings and questions about the Faith. These adult formation sessions are open to any high school or adult member of the parish who finds the upcoming topic of interest.

Our families also gather for community events each month. In the past we have made lasagnas to feed the hungry, held a family holy hour, and prayed the Stations of the Cross together. These events build community within our program while teaching prayer and morals. See the 2024-2025 calendar on the right side of this page for our planned events!

(Families are welcome to bring their older children along. These events are also open to any family with a child enrolled in Edge or Life Teen.)


Perhaps the most important component of Family Catechesis is what the families learn together, at home, at their own pace. Our chosen curriculum, the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies, provides a lesson for each Sunday of the liturgical cycle. Families will complete at least one of these lessons each month, on weeks when we do not meet at the parish. Parents are provided a teaching guide and library of online resources through Pflaum.

Family catechesis teaches children and parents together, empowers and emboldens adults to know and love their own faith, and supports parents in passing the Faith on to their children.  


Do you have questions about how this model works? Are you interested in the years of research proving its benefits? Has your child asked you a puzzling theological question? Reach out to our office at








Contact Us

Jess Panlener
(414) 425-2174 Ext. 249