Growing Faith Filled Kids

As stated in the ritual of Baptism, “Parents are the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith.” We at St. Vincent de Paul Parish have taken these words to heart. The various programs offered in the parish for our children and youth are only a supplement to the faith formation you supply at home.

This site is designed to be a further resource for you. It will offer ideas for taking advantage of those teachable moments, tips on how to create a culture of faith in your home, and suggestions on how to answer some of the faith questions that children ask.  In addition, we invite parents to contribute ideas for this site. Just send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Here are just a few examples of family faith formation offered at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church:

 Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Third Sunday of Easter

During the Easter Season we celebrate with the First Communicants as they come to the table (Eucharist) for the first time.  In your homes you can reflect the Sacrament of the Eucharist by taking special care at your mealtimes.  At least once this week have a meal with everyone present, no distractions and plenty of time for each to talk about what’s going on in their lives.  Discuss the fact that when we come to Eucharist at church it is like our coming together in our small “Domestic Church”.

Growing Faith-Filled: Second Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31) Jesus appears to his apostles after his Resurrection and says, “Peace be with you”.  Discuss with your children that we, as Catholic Christians, continue this blessing when we come to Eucharist…when we greet each other and share the Sign of Peace.   Have your child outline one of their hands on a piece of paper.  In the center of this have them write “Peace be with you”.  They may also wish to draw a picture inside their handprint.   Encourage the children to share this Sign of Peace with someone who may appreciate it…a teacher, grandparent, a sibling.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Easter Sunday

Start some new Easter traditions this year for your family.  Have your child draw or make a collage showing what Easter means to him/her.  Display this in your home throughout the Easter Season.   Consider creating a family garden this spring.  On Easter discuss where you’d plant such a garden, what you’d include and the chores that would need to be done to start it. Another idea: today have each member of your family create (or buy) a Spring greeting card to send a friend or someone you would like to know better.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Palm Sunday

There are many suggested Holy Week activities on the web.  Here are some sites you may want to view for ideas on how to experience this coming week:  1) catholichomeschool.org/index.php/palm-Sunday-and-holy-week-activities/  2) Holy Week Crafts—Catholic icing 3)Bible Kids Fun Zone Palm Sunday Activities for Children 3) Catholic Icing Holy Week Food Ideas.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Come to Life

John 11 1-45 is today’s Gospel.  It is the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life.  You can talk to your children about how some things appear to be dead but do “come to life”.  Using potting soil and a styrofoam cup or clay pot, plant some seeds (marigolds would be a good choice).  Put the pot in the sunlight, keep it watered and have your child watch the seeds “come to life” over the next several weeks. Refer back to the Lazarus story when the flowers bloom.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Heaven

In today’s Gospel we find one of the most frequently quoted lines in scripture, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”.   Here is a chance to talk to your child about “eternal life” or heaven.  Ask your child what he/she thinks heaven might be like.  Share your ideas too.  Remember, there are no wrong answers since none of us has experienced it !   Children often have delightful images of heaven.  This is a chance for you too to see if your image has changed over the years.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Teaching of Christ

Lent is a time to try harder to put Christ’s teachings into practice.  An important teaching that He gave was that what we do for the “least among us” we are doing for him.  We don’t have to look far to do things such as “clothe the naked or feed the hungry”.  This week plan a simple meal around tortillas and bread or rice and fruit.  Ask everyone at the table what they can do to feed the hungry.  You might donate the money you saved on a simple meal to the Lord’s diner or the St. Vincent de Paul Society here at Church.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Transfiguration of Jesus

Today’s Gospel is about the Transfiguration of Jesus.  Here’s an idea for how to bring the Gospel home.  Read Mark 9: 2-10 to your child.  After you have read it repeat the section where Peter says, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!”  As a family, talk about events in your lives when you were sorry to see the time end.  This could be a special vacation, a birthday, Christmas.  It’s important that each person share such a time. Remind your children that Jesus was with you during all those times, sharing their joy.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Lent

Here are a few ways to keep the spirit of Lent alive in your family. Plant some seeds in the dark earth & talk about & watch for the new life that will emerge from them. Encourage your children to put some of their spending money in a specially marked container for the poor, which can be given at Easter to our St. Vincent de Paul committee to help the poor in our parish. Come as a family to pray the Stations of the Cross starting at 6:00 pm on Friday evening and enjoy a soup supper with friends afterwards. Click here for a family calendar of Lent activities!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Lent

Lent can seem very long to children. Why forty days? You might want to talk to your children about the significance of the number 40 in the bible. Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert before beginning his public ministry. The Israelites wandered forty years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. Jonah gave the citizens of Nineveh forty days to repent. Moses spent forty days on the mountain before he received the Ten Commandments, & Noah spent forty days afloat in the ark. Forty is the symbolic number for repentance and penance.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Shrove Tuesday and Lent

Ash Wednesday is this week. Time to get your family primed for Lent. A fun day to do that is Shrove Tuesday. Flip pancakes for dinner & talk about the big three of Lent: prayer, fasting, & almsgiving. Decide what your family wants to do in each of these areas. The traditional dessert for Shrove Tuesday is New Orleans King Cake.  An authentic recipe can be found at www.theholidayspot.com/mardigras. A tiny baby Jesus doll is baked inside the cake.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Our Lady of Lourdes

The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is this Wednesday, Feb. 11th.  This date marks the first apparition of the Blessed Mother to a desperately poor little French girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Since then, Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and many cures and conversions. If your family enjoys movie nights there are a couple of good ones about this story. “The song of Bernadette” is the classic favorite, but younger children might enjoy “Bernadette, the Princess of Lourdes” more.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Presentation of the Lord

On Monday, we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and commemorates Mary and Joseph presenting their infant in the temple as prescribed in the Law. It was at this occasion that the Christ Child was recognized as the Messiah by Simeon and Anna. Simeon praised God calling the infant a “light of revelation to the nations.” For this reason, candles are traditionally blessed on this day. Here is a simple blessing, found in Meredith Gould’s book, The Catholic Home. You could use it to bless the candles in your home. Lord, Jesus Christ, pour forth your blessing on these candles and sanctify them by the light of your grace. May our hearts be illuminated by your light, may our actions be guided by your light, so that when our lives here are finished, we may come into the eternal presence of your redeeming light.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Fest of St. John Bosco

This Saturday is the feast of St. John Bosco, the patron saint of jugglers & magicians. He ministered to young run-a-way boys & orphans & he got their attention by juggling & doing magic & acrobatic tricks. As a boy, he even taught himself to walk a tight rope. You’ll find his story online. A fun way to celebrate his feast day would be to let the family try their hand at juggling or learn a magic trick together.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Feast of St. Agnes

This Wednesday, we celebrate the feast of St. Agnes. Agnes was a child saint, dying a martyr’s death at the young age of twelve. She is the patron of young girls. At the Catholic Cuisine web site, you’ll find fun recipes to celebrate the saints. Suggested for the feast of St. Agnes are lamb cookies, since Agnes means lamb in Latin.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: The Baptism of the Lord

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a good time to talk with children about their
baptism. Tell memories of the day, talk about who the child’s godparents are and why you chose them. Remind them that they became members of the church at their Baptism & that God came to live in them in a special way through grace. See if they know the date of their baptism & pull out the pictures of the celebration.

Click here for more ideas on how to celebrate this feast day with your family!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  The Epiphany

This Sunday, January 6th, the church celebrates The Epiphany. This is the arrival of the three kings with their gifts for the baby Jesus. There are several ways to celebrate this feast day with your family, such as the traditional home blessing, make construction paper king crowns, or have your family pick a patron saint for the year. This could lead to some great reflection time and discussions among family members! You could spend the year getting to know all about your family's particular saint and even celebrate their feast day!

You could also celebrate The Epiphany by baking nativity cookies or even a king cake. You could also make Magi bread as a gift for someone! Click here to view more food ideas!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Feast of the Holy Family

Dec 28th is the Feast of the Holy Family…a great time to celebrate your family.  Enjoy each other by preparing a meal together (each person might suggest one dish). Write letters of thanks to each other and to members of your extended family.  Go through family photo albums.  Read one of the stories at the beginning of the Gospels of Matthew or Luke and put yourself into the shoes of Joseph or Mary.  Share your thoughts and feelings on what you experienced doing this.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: 4th Sunday of Advent

This Christmas start a new tradition by adding a special stocking stuffer to your child’s stocking.  Write a letter to him/her telling about all the special things he/she did this year and the many ways in which your child has grown.  Remind your child of the gifts he/she has and the many ways your child has blessed you.

This Christmas start a new tradition by adding a special stocking stuffer to your child’s stocking.  Write a letter to him/her telling about all the special things he/she did this year and the many ways in which your child has grown.  Remind your child of the gifts he/she has and the many ways your child has blessed you.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: 3rd Sunday of Advent

Advent is half way over! In today’s reading we hear John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) telling people to get ready for the coming of the Christ.  Remind your child that every kind deed we do for others, Jesus counts as done for Him. A fun tradition for the last half of Advent is the tradition of Advent Angels. Draw names of each person in the family & then do secret good deeds for the person whose name you chose.  On Christmas Eve everyone  tries to guess who their Advent Angel was.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: 2ndSunday of Advent

Here is a prayer you may wish to use as a Christmas tree blessing.  With your hands extended toward the Christmas tree pray:  Holy Creator of trees, bless with your abundant grace our Christmas tree as a symbol of joy.  May its evergreen branches be a sign of your never-fading promises.  May its colorful lights and ornaments call us to decorate with love our home and our world.  May the gifts that surround this tree be symbols of the gifts we have received from God. We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:1st Sunday of Advent

Today’s Gospel (Mark 13:33-37) is about being watchful and alert.  That is what Advent is about…waiting for Jesus.   To enhance this waiting period you may want to go online and find how to make an Advent Wreath with your child.  World Market carries Advent Calendars which many children enjoy.  Finally, you can start the custom where the members of your family put a piece of straw in the manger for every good deed done.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Thanksgiving

Take a tree branch and place it in a glass jar or clay pot using pebbles to secure it.  Cut a variety of leaf shapes out of red, orange and yellow construction paper punching a hole in each leaf.  Cut pieces of string for each leaf.  On the individual leaves each family member can write something he/she is thankful for then thread the string through the leaf and put it on the Thanksgiving “tree”.  Each person can write several things.  The tree then can be used as a Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Also, don't forget about St. Nicholas's feast day which is right around the corner, on December 6th! Ask the children to put their shoes out the night before and wake up to wonderful surprises. Click here for more ideas from the St. Nicholas Center website.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Our Gifts

Today’s Gospel  is about servants who were each given different amounts of money (talents) and what each one did with that money.  With your child talk about how God gives each of us different abilities  and gifts. Give them some examples of people you know and what their talent (gift) is.  Then, ask your child to draw a picture of himself/herself  using that gift (for example: playing an instrument;  helping around the house etc.).  Have them write how their gift can help others and explain that God has given us these abilities to help others.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Our Church

In today’s Gospel Jesus is angry about the way the temple was being used.  It was a holy place and a place where God was to be reverenced.  You can talk to your children about our church and how, when we come to Mass we show respect to each other and to the church.  You might point out to them our font where baptisms occur and where we all bless ourselves, our Cross of the Millenium and the altar where we have the relics of 3 special saints (Vincent de Paul, St. Pius X and St John Vianney) located in the sides and front.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: All Souls Day

November 2nd  is All Souls Day. A day we remember our departed loved ones.  It is a day when you can look at old photos of family members who have passed and tell your children stories about them.  It is also a day when some visit the graves of their deceased family and friends and perhaps take flowers, burn a candle in their memory and say a prayer for them.

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: All Saints Day

This week we celebrate Halloween (which initially was a Christian custom) followed by All Saints Day. Tell your children that the people who have died and are in heaven are called saints. It is a good time to remember that our loved ones in heaven are now saints. Maybe you could talk about the loved one who has passed and recall the goodness of his/her life. It might be fun to check out “Catholic Online” to see if there is a saint with whom your child shares a name. Research the saints and choose one as a patron saint for your family. Another great idea to do as a family would be the Pumpkin Prayer! To see this activity, click here or check out the "A Trayful of Saints" activity here.

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Being a Good Citizen and Christian

Today, Jesus tells those who are trying to trick Him to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” This week you can talk to your children about what it means to be a good citizen and a good Christian. We are good citizens when we follow the law, vote and help out in our community. We are good Christians when we love God with all our heart, and love others as Jesus loved us. You could make a “Gift for God” jar. Decorate the jar using beads, buttons, ribbons, etc. Your children can write down their prayers and sacrifices for others that they want to give to God and place them in the jar.

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: A Wedding Feast

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14) is about a wedding feast. You might go through the pictures of your wedding with your children and point out who was there and tell them the story of your wedding day. Another option would be to look at the pictures of their birthdays, baptisms, first communions and tell the stories of those special events. Ask your children if they know why we invite people to these special occasions. One answer might be that we like to share times of joy. Explain that God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of joy and God wants to share that with us!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Our Sister Parish- St. Augustine

This week is a good time to tell your children about St. Vincent’s involvement with our sister parish, St. Augustine’s Indian Mission. If your children are old enough, they might remember visits from their pastor, Fr. Dave (the cartwheel priest). Remind them that we give school supplies to the Mission. Let your children know that the money they put in the children’s collection goes to help pay the salary of their kindergarten teacher. You might get online at St. Augustine’s Indian Mission, Winnebego, Nebraska so they can see the different activities at St. Augustine’s. There are many great pictures and videos. Check out our Growing Faith-Filled Kids webpage by clicking here for more ideas on how to build faith at home!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  St. Francis of Assisi

On Oct. 4th, we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis had a real fondness for animals. Here are a few ideas for celebrating his feast: Let your children bring their pet to the church for a blessing (October 5th at 1:00). Go to the zoo, put birdseed out, donate dog food or pet toys to the animal shelter. They could draw a picture of their favorite animal or pet. Finally, you might enjoy telling your children the legend of “St. Francis and the Wolf.”  You can google it!

Also, October is called "The Month of the Rosary". What a great time to introduce it to your children, tweens, or teens. You can start small and pray one decade. You can also click here to be directed to a power point presentation on the rosary from Liguori Press.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  St. Vincent de Paul

This week (Sept. 27th) we celebrate the feast of our patron, St. Vincent DePaul. It’s a great time to tell your children about the man for whom our parish is named.  Tell them that St. Vincent was captured by pirates and was a slave for two years! As a priest, St. Vincent was known for his kindness to slaves, service to the poor, and for educating priests in Paris. Since he was known for his works of charity, this might be a good week to go through toys and clothes with your children and select items to be given away to a charity. Another option would be to encourage them to donate some of their money to our own St. Vincent de Paul society, which helps the poor in our parish. Click here to see a short video on St. Vincent de Paul!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is a good time to teach or remind your children about the Sign of the Cross. After reviewing the words of the prayer, have your child form a cross with tongue depressors or pop-sickle sticks. Glue them together to form a cross. Then have the children write the order in which they make the Sign of the Cross with numbers (“1” at the top, “2” at the bottom, “3” on the right side and “4” on the left as the cross is facing them. Let them decorate the cross. Glue a string or yarn to the cross and they can wear it.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Birth of Mary

Tomorrow,Monday, Sept. 8th ,is the feast of the Birth of Mary, Jesus’ mother. It’s a good time to remind your children that Mary is the Mother of Jesus and that we believe she was born without sin. Explain to them that Mary is our mother too, since Jesus gave her to us when he was dying. Because Jesus is our brother, Mary is our mother. You may want to make a birthday cake and frost it with white or blue frosting (the traditional colors for Mary). Put ten candles on the cake, light them & then pray a “Hail Mary” for each candle, extinguishing a candle after each prayer. You will have prayed one decade of the rosary.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Year of Jesus

Since our parish is beginning a year of Jesus, here are a couple of ideas to get your children engaged. As a family, think of as many names for Jesus as can; for example, Good Shepherd, or Light of the World. Write them down & when you can’t think of any more, invite your family to create some of their own. Be sure to add them to the list. Another time you might review your list of names for Jesus and ask each person to choose a favorite. You might then want to create a new list of “Our Family’s Favorite Names of Jesus.” You could use the list as a short litany adding a simple refrain like, “Jesus, our Savior, we love you.” Another idea is to purchase some holy cards of Jesus and let each member of the family choose one to put on their dresser, desk, notebook, etc.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Communion of Saints

The anniversary of a loved one’s death is a perfect opportunity to strengthen in children a sense of belonging to a family, and also to teach about the Communion of Saints. You might display a picture of the loved one and place some flowers or light a candle by it.  After you’ve shared memories of your loved one, explain to your children that this relative is now a saint (not an angel) in heaven. He or she can still see us & cares about what happens to us. Our relatives, who are now saints in heaven, still love us & pray for us.  You could end by praying the traditional Catholic prayer for our departed: “Eternal rest grant to her/him, O Lord, & may perpetual light shine upon her/him.”

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Car Time

Make the most of car time.  Pop in a CD and sing together. Ask fun questions like, “When it comes to things that make you really happy, what four things would you put at the top of the list? Then everybody gets to answer including you. Or how about, “If you could ask Jesus any question & hear His answer, what would you ask?” On the weekend, when you’re driving home from church, is the perfect time to answer Fr. Kent’s question of the week. You’ll find it in the bulletin, if you missed it at Mass.
Be sure to check out the “Litany for Loading School Backpacks” & the “Prayer for the First Day of School” at http://svdpks.org/growing-faith-filled-kids/blessings-a-prayers.

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven is this Friday, August, 15th. On this day we celebrate that God took Mary to heaven both body and soul. We think about how someday after we die, we will get our bodies back too. One creative mom celebrated the day by taking little balls of dough rolled in melted butter & then in a sugar cinnamon mixture & putting them side by side in muffin tins. She told her children that the rolls were rising just like Mary did on this day. They were sweet just like the love between Jesus and Mary & the two pieces joined together were for Jesus coming to get his mother to join Him in heaven. After the rolls were baked, the family enjoyed a tasty treat together.

Today would be a good day to pray the “Hail Mary” together.

Below we have listed some other ideas to help your family celebrate this great feast!

  • Suggest that everyone wear something "blue" this day since it is the color associated with Mary (just like on Saint Patrick's day and wearing green).
  • Start the tradition of praying a decade of the rosary.
  • Click this link to share with your younger children the "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue" prayer card
  • For parents and older kids, click here to read a wonderful article by Mark Hart, also known as "The Bible Geek". He also helped in developing the LIFETEEN curriculum that we use here at SvDP.

Don't forget to check out our Growing Faith-Filled Kids main page. There is an excellent video posted there from Busted Halo and a wonderful article by Mark Hart. Check these out if you want to learn more about this great feast day in our church!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: The Power of Words

The next time you hear your kids calling names or speaking rudely, use this cool object lesson to teach them to speak kindly both to & about others. Give them a tube of toothpaste and invite them to squirt out the same amount of toothpaste they would use on their toothbrush onto a plate. Then, ask them to please put the toothpaste back in the tube. When they complain that it’s impossible, tell them that the toothpaste is like the hurtful words we say. We can never take them back! Tell them the old saying, “Stick & stones may hurt my bones but words can never hurt me” is wrong. Words often hurt more than a punch and they sure hurt longer. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death life are in the power of the tongue.”

Take That Back!

Point: We can’t take back harmful or hurtful words once they are said.

Supplies: Tubes of toothpaste and paper plates

Activity: Give them a tube of toothpaste and invite them to squirt out the same amount of toothpaste they would use on their toothbrush onto a plate. Then, ask them to please put the toothpaste back in the tube. When they complain that it’s impossible, tell them that the toothpaste is like the hurtful words we say. We can never take them back!

Discussion: Tell them the old saying, “Stick & stones may hurt my bones but words can never hurt me” is wrong. Words often hurt more than a punch and they sure hurt longer. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death life are in the power of the tongue.”

Ask your child/children how they feel when someone calls them a name or teases them?

**For Younger Children: Instead of using toothpaste, go outside and blow bubbles. Ask the children to bring the popped bubbles back to you. They can’t because the bubble has evaporated into the air. Discuss how are words are the same. Once we have said them, they are gone!

(Family Night Tool Chest by Jim Weidmann and Kurt Bruner)

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Baptism Birthday

One way parents can communicate the importance of their faith is by celebrating their child’s Baptism day.

  • Dig out the Baptismal certificate, if you’ve forgotten the date & bring out the, “You are Special” plate. Light the child’s Baptismal candle during dinner. Let the child choose the menu.
  • Talk about the amazing gifts given to the child at his/her Baptism. For example, she became a member of God’s own family, the Church. God came to live inside him. She received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the four cardinal virtues.
  • Don’t forget to share your memories of that day. By the way, if the celebration includes a gift, it’s likely you’ll be reminded next year as the baptismal date approaches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Pope Francis, General Audience, St. Peter's Square, November 13, 2013

Spiritual Bouquets are another idea you could do to celebrate this day with your child. A spiritual bouquet is a gift of prayer and/or sacrifice done for the benefit of the recipient. The ideas listed below would be great for a spiritual bouquets:

  • Praying the Our Father
  • Pray a Hail Mary or a decade of the rosary
  • Read a spiritual book
  • Attend  Mass
  • A little gift of service like taking over a chore for the day such as making a bed. These are small things but thoughtful.

Then, give them homemade or store bought card or  write them a note letting your child know that you've been praying for them!

***One last thing, tell your child/children who their godparents are so they can pray for them as well on this day or even make a special phone call to them!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Meal time

Make the most of mealtime. The family meal is, without doubt, the single most powerful ritual for growing faith-filled kids. Start with prayer. You can use the traditional Catholic grace, pray the Our Father, or take turns leading a spontaneous prayer. Many families have the tradition of holding hands while grace is prayed. Then enjoy each other! Put away all electronic devices & teach your children the rapidly fading art of conversation! Some families have a custom of each member sharing an important moment in their day. This could be a God moment (a time when God seemed near), a chance they had to help someone, the part of their day that was especially nice, something they learned, or the most interesting part of their day. It usually works best, especially at the beginning if the parents share something about their day first.

Mealtime !

  • Put away all electronic devices & teach your children the rapidly fading art of conversation! Some families have a custom of each member sharing an important moment in their day. This could be a God moment (a time when God seemed near), a chance they had to help someone, the part of their day that was especially nice, something they learned, or the most interesting part of their day. It usually works best, especially at the beginning if the parents share something about their day first.
  • Here is an activity for older children about “How to Welcome Pope Francis to the Dinner Table”. Here is a link to the article on the Our Sunday Visitor website:

https://www.osvparish.com/CatechistHelp/ConnectingWithParents/Article/tabid/271/itemId/551/How-to-Welcome-Pope-Francis-to-Your-Dinner-Table.aspx

  • For all ages, try fun meal-time questions like those in The Meal Box. “They will encourage conversation, laughter, and sharing. Above all, make the table a welcoming to all. Welcome friends, neighbors, and those in need to your table as well. Jesus did some of his best teaching from the dinner table. You can too, just by passing the potatoes.” Excerpt from Loyola Press
  • Put a jar or some type of bowl on or close to the dinner table. Have slips of paper at each place setting with a pencil or pen. Ask each person to write a prayer intention down on the slip of paper and place it in the jar. Each night when you sit down for the family meal, take turns drawing from the “Prayer Jar” and pray for that intention. It is amazing how many more prayers develop from that one intention.  Be sure to explain this tradition with any dinner guests. This is an especially cool way to remember guest days after they have shared a meal with your family.
  • Don’t forget to breakout the “You Are Special” plate for anyone who is celebrating doing good at school or even use it for a family member who is going through a tough situation. This might just cheer up their day!
  • Mealtime is a great way to celebrate the Liturgical Year. Pick out one feast/holy day you plan on celebrating this year with a special meal. Some ideas could be Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, or the 12 Days of Christmas Dinner. Then, research the holy day and find fun games or worksheets you could do as part of the dinner.
  • For instance, for Shrove Tuesday, invite another family to join yours and have a pancake bar. Buy all sorts of fun toppings like whip cream, chocolate chips, and of course sprinkles. Let the kids have fun loading up their plate. Find a fun activity all the kids can do and learn about Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras and Lent! Don’t forget to decorate your table with purple, gold, and green.

There is a great article on “Making Mealtime Prayers More Meaningful” at the Loyola Press website. Click on the following link to read the article:  http://www.loyolapress.com/devotion-rediscovered-meal-prayer.htm

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Family Prayer

“The family that prays together stays together.” Make family prayer time part of your routine. When mom & dad model praying in their own words, kids catch on quickly. If children hear their dad praying for a sick neighbor, or their mom asking God for help at an important meeting, they learn to bring their needs to God. And it will touch your heart to hear your kids praying for each other. “Please help Tommy hit a home run at his baseball game tomorrow.” Praying together is also one more way to find out what is going on in your child’s life.

Here are a few other opportunities for family prayer. Have a prayer jar, in which members can place things for which they want special prayers at family prayer time. Whenever you hear a siren, say a little prayer together for whoever is in trouble. Say a prayer whenever the family sets out in the car, asking God to help you arrive safely. Click on "Growing Faith Filled Kids" to be directed to their home page!

Here is a another easy way to help younger children incorporate prayer into their routine.

 

 

Readers may already know the prayer. It has been around for a while, but several sources are saying that it was written by Cardinal Bergoglio. I should note as well that it was attributed to him well before he became Pope Francis.

So here it is: Pope Francis’ five finger prayer guide.

1. The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation.”

2. The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.

4. The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even that it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5. And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

Excerpt from: A SIMPLE PRAYER METHOD FROM A SIMPLE PONTIFF

BY OMAR GUTIERREZ

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Blessing Your Children

Many parents have found blessing their children as they leave for school or when they tuck them in at night increases family closeness. The simple ritual of tracing a cross on your child’s head conveys your hope that they will be safe & happy & reminds them of God’s watchful protection. It won’t be long before, if you forget to bless them, your children will quickly remind you!

Do you have rituals & traditions that are meaningful to your family? We invite you to share them with others. Email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & we’ll include them in the “Growing Faith-Filled Kids” section of our parish bulletin.

 

“You may not be rich; you may be unable to bequeath any great possessions to your children; but one thing you can give them; the heritage of your blessing. And it is better to be blessed than to be rich.” St. Ambrose

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Blessing Your Children

Many parents have found blessing their children as they leave for school or when they tuck them in at night increases family closeness. The simple ritual of tracing a cross on your child’s head conveys your hope that they will be safe & happy & reminds them of God’s watchful protection. You could add a little prayer, as you bless your child, if you like. It might be specific like: “God bless you & help you do your best on the spelling test today,” but children also like ritual. If you bless them at night before bed, you might like to pray the same blessing each night. It won’t be long, before, if you forget to bless them, your children will quickly remind you!

Aaronic Blessing: Numbers 6: 22-27

Check out this article on the Catholic Mom website about blessing your children.

http://catholicmom.com/2013/02/14/why-you-should-be-blessing-your-children-every-day/

At night, sing the Aaronic blessing we use here at St. Vincent de Paul when we bless people before mass. Blessing your children with this familiar song is a nice tradition to start with your chidren.

“May God bless and keep you, may God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.”

If you still have your child’s holy water from First Communion class, move it to a location in your house that would easily accessible to use as your children leave the house.

If you do not have a holy water bottle, you can purchase one at a catholic supply store. Then, bring it to mass and fill it up at the baptismal font.

Start blessing your children today!

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Birthdays

The power of rituals & traditions to strengthen families cannot be overstated. Bedtime routines, the way families celebrate birthdays & holidays, customs connected to meal times, or the way families greet each other or say good bye—these things, simple as they are, give children roots. For the next few weeks, we’ll offer ideas of rituals & traditions from parents who have used them and found they enriched their family life.

We’ll start with birthdays. The point of a birthday celebration is to make the birthday person feel cherished. An easy way to do this is to tell the story of their birth, the cute or funny things they did as a baby & toddler. Parents might mention traits about the child, which bring them joy. Siblings quickly start adding memories of funny incidents from the past. As the years pass, your children won’t remember what gifts they received on their birthdays, but they will associate their birthday with the feeling of being especially loved & affirmed. Don't forget to check out "Growing Faith Filled Kids" website. We have lots of information we are excited to share with you!

The point of a birthday celebration is to make the birthday person feel cherished.

  • An easy way to do this is to tell the story of their birth, the cute or funny things they did as a baby & toddler.
  • Parents might mention traits about the child, which bring them joy.
  • Siblings quickly start adding memories of funny incidents from the past.
  • As the years pass, your children won’t remember what gifts they received on their birthdays, but they will associate their birthday with the feeling of being especially loved & affirmed.

Celebrate!

  • If you have a “You Are Special Today” red plate, don’t forget to set it on the dinner table for the birthday child. Don’t forget to ask them to pick their favorite home cooked meal!

 

The Red Plate is the perfect way to acknowledge a family member’s special day as well as reward to a goal they achieved. This plate can be used for many different occasions not just birthdays!

Here is the link to the Red Plate Store: http://www.redplatestore.com/. If you don’t want to buy one, use a plate that you already have at home and designate it for that purpose. You can also make one if you would like. This website, http://www.tipjunkie.com/post/you-are-special-red-plate-2-2/ , has supplies and directions needed to do this. Below is the Red Plate Tradition:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Next Friday is the Feast of the Sacred Heart—a time to celebrate the deep and personal love Jesus has for each of us. You might teach your children this easy prayer, “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in you.” If you don’t have an image of Jesus in your home yet, the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be an ideal time to choose an image of Jesus your family likes, and find a special place for it in your home. Another fun way to celebrate this feast is to make heart cookies. http://catholiccuisine.blogspot.com/ is a great site for finding recipe ideas for celebrating the feasts & seasons of the church year. Don't forget to check out Growing Faith Filled Kids for more ideas!

Fun Facts:

  • A time to celebrate the deep and personal love Jesus has for each of us.
  • Pope Pius XI elevated this feast to the same rank as Christmas (Catholic Customs & Traditions, 1992).
  • This tradition became widespread because of a series of visions of the Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun.

Celebrate!

  • Teach your children this easy prayer, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in you.”
  • If you don’t have an image of Jesus in your home yet, the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be an ideal time to choose an image of Jesus your family likes, and find a special place for it in your home.
  • Another fun way to celebrate this feast is to make heart cookies. http://catholiccuisine.blogspot.com/ is a great site for finding recipe ideas for celebrating the feasts & seasons of the church year.
  • St. Margaret Mary Alacoque reported that Jesus appeared to her and made these twelve promises to all who honor an image of His Sacred Heart.  

    1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life. 
    2. I will establish peace in their families. 
    3. I will comfort them in their trials. 
    4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death. 
    5. I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings
    6. Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy. 
    7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent. 
    8. Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection. 
    9. I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored. 
    10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts. 
    11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out. 
    12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Links:

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus is next Sunday. It’s a day to be happy because Jesus gives Himself to us in Holy Communion. Receiving communion is like getting a hug from Jesus. We can’t feel His arms around us, but Jesus is that close to us! The day is also about being united with each other because of Jesus. It’s the perfect time for family fun! We can celebrate the presence of Jesus in Eucharist by being present to each other. Play games together, enjoy a picnic, go for a family walk or bike ride. Visit extended family. Just remember to make the connection for your children. You could say something like, “This is the day we celebrate how Jesus is together with us in Communion. We’ll celebrate His love by having fun together today! Don't forget to check out Growing Faith-Filled Kids for other ideas on living the liturgical year with your family!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids:  Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

Fun Fact:

  • The anniversary of the Eucharist is, of course, on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper. However, since this falls in the most solemn of weeks — Holy Week — it cannot very well be celebrated as a feast. Therefore, the Church in her wisdom has assigned another day to celebrate this special feast. (Excerpt from Our Sunday Visitor, 1999)
  • Popularly called by its Latin title, Corpus Christi (“Body of Christ”) and is celebrated on the Second Sunday after Pentecost.

Celebrate!  By being present to each other

  • Enjoy a family picnic and spend the day playing games or going for a family walk/bike ride.
  • Visit or call extended family.
  • Place a Hershey “Hugs” chocolate candy on each dinner plate. Remind the children that receiving communion is like getting a hug from Jesus. We can’t feel His arms around us, but Jesus is that close to us!
  • Talk with your children about their First Holy Communion Day and how you made it special by having a special cake or having a party to celebrate the occasion. Dig out the scrapbook and show them pictures. Talk with them about Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist at mass.
  • Visit the Adoration Chapel before or after mass…even for 5 minutes. It might just be the best 5 minutes of your day!

Resources/Links:

Worksheet for older kids:  http://catholicplayground.com/corpus-christi/corpus_christi_activity_sheet.html

**Just remember to make the connection for your children. You could say something like, “This is the day we celebrate how Jesus is together with us in Communion. We’ll celebrate His love by having fun together today!

Growing Faith-Filled Kids: The Most Holy Trinity

We’ll celebrate Trinity Sunday this weekend. It’s a good time to practice making the Sign of the Cross with your children. Explain that there is only one God &, yet, God is three distinct persons—the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. It’s a mystery! Give young children candy corn & show them the three colors on the one piece of candy. Here are two sites that use cool object lessons to teach children about our Triune God. They both just use rope or cord & are simple to do and fascinating to children. Enjoy!  Don’t forget to check out, “Growing Faith-Filled Kids” for ideas on how to talk about the Trinity to your children. http://www.professorwonder.com/magic19.htmhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPIhEH4296s

Fun Facts

  1. Trinity Sunday is a moveable feast
  2. It is celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost
  3. We can never fully understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity. However, we can explain it as  three persons in one God. The three persons of God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal and distinct.

Rituals

  1. Practice making the Sign of the Cross with your children. Explain there is only one God and, yet, God is 3 distinct persons-The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s a mystery!! For young children, give them a piece of candy corn and show them the three colors on the one piece of candy.
  2. In addition to practicing the Sign of the Cross, another prayer associated to the Holy Trinity is the “Glory Be”. Teach your kids to say this prayer:  “Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end.”

Object Lessons Links

  1. Here are two sites that use cool object lessons to teach children about our Triune God. They both just use rope or cord & are simple to do and fascinating to children. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPIhEH4296shttp://www.professorwonder.com/magic19.htm
  2. Catholic Cuisine has a fun recipe to try with kids too! Check out this link: http://catholiccuisine.blogspot.com/2009/06/trinity-sunday.html
  3. Here is another easy object lesson you could try with your kids using something you already have in your house…water! It is a great example of how something can be three different things and at the same time remain one thing. Water can be a liquid, a solid (ice), and a gas (vapor/steam).

For Middle School Kids

  1. Check out Mark Hart, also known as the “Bible Geek” Youtube video on the Holy Trinity: https://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=dpCwDL30TL8
  2. End family prayer time by listening to the song, Renew, recorded by Sarah Hart, about the Holy Trinity. Listen to an interview by Sarah where explains about the song and then performs it: http://www.spiritandsong.com/podcasts/renew

For Parents, if you want further your understanding of the Holy Trinity

  1. Check out this website: http://www.linktoliturgy.com/index.cfm?load=page&page=818