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by Aryanna Sookoo

A FAITH BUILDING LESSON-  “If you have Faith the size of a mustard seed nothing is impossible for you”  Matthew 17:20. 

FAITH is like planting a seed. The First Communion Class of St. Benedict’s RC La Romaine began their faith journey many months ago. They compared the growth of their faith to that of a seed which they planted and nurtured by providing conditions necessary for growth:  soil rich in minerals, water, sunshine. They also weeded the soil and kept records in their journals pertinent to the growth of the seedling.  

For most students, caring for their plant deepened their understanding of FAITH. When seedlings were distributed, students could not tell what plant they were given. Many guessed, was it a pepper seedling, a pea or an ochro? They eventually found out by planting and caring for the seedling. “Faith is evidence of things not seen”.  Students were able to compare, that the preparation of the soil for the plant was similar to finding a place for Jesus in their hearts. Keeping the commandments was likened to keeping the soil free of weeds for the plant to grow well. Praying daily was similar to the daily watering of the plant and reading the scriptures was like the sunlight the plant was exposed to. It was fascinating to be a part of this faith journey and the excitement generated from this project. It was evident that the children understood that the nurturing of their faith opens their hearts to joy and happiness just like nurturing the plant allows it to blossom into the beautiful and awesome plant it was intended to be.

Student work example number 2:

WEEK 1

I got this seedling today. I have to transplant it, water it and watch it grow.

WEEK 3

My plant is growing, and will soon be ready to be transplanted.

WEEK 5

I put my plant in a nice big pot today. It is just over ten centimeters (10cm) tall. It has more leaves than week 1, and looks stronger every day.

WEEK 6

My plant is growing stronger and taller day by day. It takes a lot of work to look after this plant.

WEEK 8

I forgot to water my plant for a few days now… both the plant and I are very sad. I hope he will be okay. I will make sure to take better care of my plant in the future.

WEEK 10

I tried really hard. I watered my plant and we even gave it some fertilizer… and some extra love and care. My plant is stronger and healthier than before and is ready to bear fruit.

I got so excited when my plant started to flower that I forgot that my job was not yet complete. I stopped paying attention to it and thought it would be fine on its own… I stopped nurturing it, didn’t water it for some time and hardly visited the area I placed it.

By the time I remembered, the leaves had fallen off, the branches were drooping… my plant was dying

When mummy saw me crying, she explained that sometimes we lose our way and we need people to help us. We need their support and love to make our journey easier.

We called my uncle. He would sure know what to do and how to fix my plant. He would help me to take care of it.

Uncle Lyndon explained that we need to keep caring for the plant, even when we thought it could care for itself and even more when we thought it was not doing so well and even more when we thought it was dying.

He said with love and support and a dose of Faith, we could make anything possible

We tilled the soil, put egg shells and coal as fertilizer. We watered it, made sure there was the perfect amount of sunshine and we even talked to my plant.

Before long, tiny leaves reappeared. I felt like we were starting all over. I was excited and promised not to relax this time.

Ohhhhhh…… my uncle was so right.

Peppers grew and grew. And with every new fruit, I remembered how sad I was when I thought my plant had died and I was so very grateful to my family for helping and supporting me.

I picked my first peppers today. I was so proud and happy that with some love, dedication, hard work and Faith, we reaped the fruit. I knew exactly what I was going to do with these first peppers

Father Christian has helped me on my journey to making my First Communion. Through his love and dedication and with his guidance I love being a Catholic. I love going to weekend Mass, listening to his stories, receiving special blessings and getting a hug after Mass. I am going to give the first fruit I picked to Father Christian

Today is Saturday 1st February, 2020 and I made my First Holy Communion today. My family was there to witness this very special event. I feel so proud and I am so very blessed. My parents brought my plant to the altar as a gift. It shows that with love, nurturing, lots of help and Faith we can bloom, grow and bear fruit. I am leaving this gift with Father Christian because I want him to keep enjoying the peppers from my plant and I want him to remember me

Mummy says it is the same way we must nurture our Faith and relationship with God and even when we lose our way.

He will keep his angels around us to protect us to protect us and guide us back to Him. He has given us people to love and support us on this journey and he is always watching over us. He loves to see His children doing well and bearing fruit.

He loves to see us happy

by Zackary K. Phagoo

A FAITH BUILDING LESSON-  “If you have Faith the size of a mustard seed nothing is impossible for you”  Matthew 17:20. 

FAITH is like planting a seed. The First Communion Class of St. Benedict’s RC La Romaine began their faith journey many months ago. They compared the growth of their faith to that of a seed which they planted and nurtured by providing conditions necessary for growth:  soil rich in minerals, water, sunshine. They also weeded the soil and kept records in their journals pertinent to the growth of the seedling.  

For most students, caring for their plant deepened their understanding of FAITH. When seedlings were distributed, students could not tell what plant they were given. Many guessed, was it a pepper seedling, a pea or an ochro? They eventually found out by planting and caring for the seedling. “Faith is evidence of things not seen”.  Students were able to compare, that the preparation of the soil for the plant was similar to finding a place for Jesus in their hearts. Keeping the commandments was likened to keeping the soil free of weeds for the plant to grow well. Praying daily was similar to the daily watering of the plant and reading the scriptures was like the sunlight the plant was exposed to. It was fascinating to be a part of this faith journey and the excitement generated from this project. It was evident that the children understood that the nurturing of their faith opens their hearts to joy and happiness just like nurturing the plant allows it to blossom into the beautiful and awesome plant it was intended to be.

WEEK 1 – 6th April, 2019

Today I received my plant. I have decided to call him Tony Stark after my favorite character, Iron Man .Tony Stark is very small with a few leaves. I plan to take good care of him.

WEEK 3-27th April, 2019

Tony has grown .He is now 4 inches tall with more leaves. Over the past few weeks, my mom helped me to transplant him into a bigger pot. Each day I water him when I get home.

WEEK 6-8th May, 2019

Tony is now 7 inches tall. He has more leaves and his leaves are much bigger also.

WEEK 9-8th June

Tony has really grown. He is 15 inches tall and his leaves are HUGE! The largest leaves are the same size as my hand!

WEEK 12-29th June, 2019

Tony Stark is 16 inches tall. His leaves have grown even bigger. He now has 4 little white flowers. I’m not sure what type of pepper he will bear but I can’t wait to find out.

On the weekend of 1st October 2017, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office hosted a two-day Conference entitled ‘Seamless Garment of Discipleship’.  The venue was Signature Hall, Chaguanas and around 250 participants from different parish ministries attended the Conference.
Present were the head Catechists from various AEC dioceses:  Christine Walcott, of Kingstown, St. Vincent, Indra Sukhai, of Georgetown, Guyana, Sandra Maxwell Williams,  of Kingston, Jamaica, and Sr. Margaret Mary, of Bridgetown, Barbados.
The objective of the workshop was -:
(1)  to discern vocation so as to live discipleship
(2) to understand the interconnectedness or ‘seamlessness’ of parish ministry
(3) to present  a change in mindset  that would lead to personal transformation
(4) to offer tools to deepen and sustain missionary discipleship
(5) to appreciate integral development as the vocation of the church.
The facilitator was the dynamic Bishop, Charles Jason Gordon of Barbados. He approached the theme in the context of understanding and living out our vocation. His methodology over the two days ensured that we kept on track. He interspersed his  input with table talk, DVD, Youtube clips and group work. He used an inside-out methodology.  Transformation and vocation begins inside of us when we have an encounter with the Living God.  He led us to focus on the core of our being which was – being ‘created for a unique purpose’.  Each day he used a prayerful approach to begin the session so that we entered the centre of our being, the centre where God exist.  By being aware of God at the centre of our existence, we experience a Holy Call or vocation on our life.  This vocation transcends the life call to marriage, priesthood or religious life.  It is a call to do something special while on earth.
Responding to this call is discipleship.  Discipleship calls us from one place to another.  We are constantly called from somewhere to follow Christ until we arrive in a place of Christ.  We were challenged to examine our lives to see where we were and where Christ was calling us to be.
Bishop Jason reminded us that as disciples we are called to inclusivity, our work in parishes must include everyone if we want to live the whole gospel.
In one of his many questions he asked us. ‘What is the best way of transmitting the faith to the next generation?’  Bishop Jason reminded us that in the early years we received the content of faith and somehow we have the fallacy that we can pass the faith on the way we received it. We have not found a way to live the faith in order to pass it on to the next generation.  We are therefore challenged to live the faith with integrity. Living out our discipleship includes forming the next generation.
For Lectio Divina, Ephesians 4: 1-7. 11-13, was used.  The passage reminded us of the different gifts given to us, given as Christ allotted it. Bishop Gordon emphasized that whatever hand is dealt to us, we play with all our might.  We are unique in all the world. Before we were formed, God gave us a unique gift to fulfil, we have to fulfil our mission.
Bishop Jason also led us through the Awareness Examen and encouraged  us to develop the practise of doing this exercise daily.  He also led us through the Johari’s Window as well as Erik Erickson psychosocial stages. Some challenging questions included, Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for?What do those people need or want most from you? How do they change as a result of this?
The seamless garment is an integral part of pastoral ministry.The heart of our religion is covenant. A covenant is a way of regulating relationship between us and God. We cannot take people where we have not been ourselves or where we do not want to go. He reminded us of our commitment to build a better world by building communities to be inclusive. Discipleship is walking in the feet of Jesus.
Bishop Jason used an integrated methodology that allowed participants to internalize the material presented and at the same time he used technology to bring experts into the teaching environment.  The sessions were interactive and interesting because of the variety of media used.  This served as an example for how faith should be taught so that participants can own the knowledge and apply it to the life situations.
Quoting from Pope Paul V1, he said, authentic integral human development is the vocation of the church, the development of each person in all dimensions emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical. Our parishes must be in the development business of each parishioner.
The weekend proved different from attendance at other conferences as it included much soul searching reflections. We were fed -:
Spiritually: Christian Meditation;  Lectio Divina; Holy Mass; Examination of conscience.
Intellectually: Lots of information; References, Recommended books
Emotionally: Questions for sharing and reflection
Physically : The sumptuous meals provided.
We thank God for Bishop Jason and the organizers of the Conference.
-A Participant

 

Many Catholic adults have committed themselves to continuous edification in all that the faith has to offer.  It is a journey which brings great sustenance to those who at times may feel bewildered and overwhelmed by the everyday challenges of life.

Most of us are aware by now, that the Archdiocese has embarked on the restructuring of the confirmation programme, commencing with the re-training of all the instructors.  The procedure also involves standardising the material used for teaching this particular sacrament, so that there is one formal instructional template for the entire Archdiocese.  This is the Church’s’ response to assisting the catechists in deepening their faith as they continue to journey.

Faith formation is the process by which we learn and grow in the Catholic faith.  It is a life long journey that helps to broaden our knowledge on the Church’s traditions, doctrines, rituals, and scriptural teachings, in order to bring us closer to living a faith-filled life in Jesus Christ.FaithFormation-1

To effectively achieve this, teachers of the faith must be well formed and informed.  This requires a continuous commitment to their own faith development, paralleled with their own human experiences.  It is within these experiences we see ourselves in light of the scripture, the Church’s traditions, and the secular world.  These experiences lend to our interpretations of various manifestations in our everyday lives.

The ability to relate our lives to our faith-belief systems, is pivotal to the foundation of our individual formation. “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.. stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27)  Although Thomas journeyed with Christ, he could not relate to what he was experiencing and it took more than Jesus’s words to convince him of what was taking place at that moment.

It is very possible that the other disciples appreciated Thomas’s dilemma, as they too might have been challenged by what was taking place before them.  Jesus’ subsequent actions was necessary for them to truly believe as well.  This is how faith is realistically passed on; this is how we catechise or teach, by the lives we live; being an example to others.

In the Roman Catholic Church, formal catechesis or teaching takes place through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist/First Communion, Confirmation and Rites of Christian Initiation – RCIA for adults.  The sacraments are the faith pillars of the Church through which one can become a full member of the Catholic faith and of the Catholic Community.  Catholic Christian formation or instructions takes place at each stage and is specific to each sacrament.Faith-Formation

Here are some terms used in faith formation which one may be familiar with:

Catechesis – According to the Catechism of The Catholic Church (CCC#5), “catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view of initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life.”

Catechists – Persons who are called to formally teach and pass on the faith or catechise.  They are responsible for bringing those they teach, into the fullness of Christian life (Catholic).

Catechumens – Persons who have not been previously baptised in any denomination or Christian faith recognised by the Catholic Church and .are interested in receiving formal instructions for the preparation of entering into the Catholic faith.

Candidate – Anyone wanting to become a member of the faith who have been already baptised in a different Christian faith or denomination, recognised and validated by the Catholic Church.

Catechumenate – The state or process of preparation for receiving the rites of the Sacraments of Initiation or RCIA

 

In this Archdiocese, the Catechetical Office headed by the Directress for Catechetics, Sr. Juliet Rajah CHF, is responsible for the development and organisation of all sacramental faith formation programmes.  The Office also arranges and provides courses and workshops for the formal training of Catechists.

Slide11The parish priest is the chief catechist of his parish and is responsible for delegating and overseeing the implementation of all catechetical programmes, especially those related to the sacraments of initiation.  He is also responsible for appointing members of the parish as catechists for each programme.
Continue this journey with us as we explore elements of faith formation in our Archdiocese, with the hope to educate, inform, enlighten and encourage you to get involved.

Become a catechist in your parish today!

 

By Andrew Fernandez,
Northern Vicariate Catechetical Coordinator
Catechetical Corner

Also featured in Sunday, May 21st 2017 Issue of the Catholic News, page 17

The Archdiocesan Catechetical Office recognizing the need for Adult Faith Formation produced the first in the series of resources entitled ‘Wellsprings of Prayer’.

This resource is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), section IV on Prayer. There is a Facilitators Guide and Participants Book. The sessions were conducted in the Northern, Suburban, Eastern, Central and Southern Vicariates. Tobago will start these sessions soon. The sessions were well attended.

It is now time to sign up or renew your subscription for Catechist Magazine. The magazine is issued seven times for the academic year: September, October, November/December, January, February, March and April/May. (see website )

Each issue contains feature articles, reproducibles, craft ideas, prayer suggestions, gospel reflections, Catholic IQ and much more. The Catechist magazine is an ideal, user-friendly tool for every teacher and catechist.

The cost is only TT$175.00. We encourage all Schools, Parishes, Teachers and Catechists to obtain a copy of this magazine

This year for Catechetical Month in September we hope to have a son of the Caribbean soil, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, who will facilitate a weekend seminar on September 12 – 13 at Holy Faith Convent School Auditorium, Couva. (more…)

Alleluia! Alleluia!

The Archdiocesan Catechetical Office is happy to announce the long awaited Online Faith Formation Course, which is accessible via our website. The course is open to all persons and there are no prerequisites. It can be completed in your own time and in the comfort of your home. (more…)

As I reflect on the season of Easter, I am confronted with the question of how authentic is our faith. Does this season of Resurrection touch us in any way? (more…)