Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth
The following are excerpts from the booklet Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth Family Faith Resource Booklet
Imagine spending an hour talking one-on-one with a teenager about what she believes about God, faith and religion and what that looks like in her life and then having a similar conversation with her parent. Those conversations would likely yield some surprising insights, stories, challenges and reflections. Now multiply those two conversations by over 3,300 and you get a glimpse into what Dr. Christian Smith and colleagues encountered in their groundbreaking research study on youth and religion in the U.S.
This National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), first conducted from 2001-2005, has given church leaders and parents a challenging and profound glimpse into what today’s teens believe and how they act in light of those beliefs. Of the mountain of data collected and analyzed in this vital study, five findings are crucial to parents in understanding what it will take to build strong families today and in the years ahead.
Perhaps the most prominent finding of the NSYR research involves the role of the parent. Smith found that the single most important influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents.
What Can You Do?
Parents should engage teens in meaningful and regular dialogues that incorporate aspects of what they believe and why. Could any of us learn to speak a new language by taking a one or two hour class a few times a month? The class certainly helps, but it is not going to get us speaking and understanding the language. Our Catholic faith is no different. If faith conversations are not happening in the home or teens are not engaged in them at church, learning to speak the language of faith and developing a deeper faith will remain an uphill battle.
We hope some of the resources on this page help you, as a member of the Sacred Heart Parish family ... to engage in those discussions … to have a positive influence on the faith and spiritual lives of your own family, and especially your children.
Practicing Faith at Home
The NSYR research identified parents as the most powerful teachers of faith to their children and teens; more powerful than any bishop or priest or youth minister and more lasting than any faith formation program.
Start Simple There are many actions—from simple to profound—that parents can do to create strong Catholic families and youth. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make meal times sacred and invite (apprentice) your children and teens in leading prayer. Use the dinner conversation to talk about daily events and situations and strive to apply Catholic beliefs and values to them such as the sacredness of all life, a special option for the poor and marginalized, treating others with respect and dignity, and the incarnate belief in a God who walks with us through life.
- Read and discuss Scripture as a family and invite each member to share what God is saying to them through the Scripture reading.
- Pray together outside of meal times and use simple blessings at night to commemorate special days and events in the lives of family members.
- Display religious art around the house and make sure each person has a Bible of their own (geared towards their age level).
- Expect each person to become actively involved in some form of parish ministry and/or community service. Look for opportunities to serve together as a family.
- Make Mass, youth ministry, and church events high family priorities and be sure to update your own faith.
We encourage you to download and read through the entire Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth Family Faith Resource Booklet for the following resources inside it. There are some especially simple, effective suggestions in the "Suggestions for Living Faith as a Family" section that begins on page 12.
- Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth Overview
- Family Faith Inventory
- Developing a Family Faith Plan
- Suggestions for Living Faith as a Family
- Family Faith Prayers
- Online, Print and Media Resources (including many book title suggestions)
BLOGS & WEBSITES
Catholic Mom Outstanding website for Catholic moms (and dads) where they celebrate all things faith, family and fun from a Catholic perspective
Catholic Digest Connects with readers through personal stories of triumphs and struggles, joys and challenges, and also the lighter side of Catholic living ... A source of support and encouragement for those who love their faith, those who struggle with their faith, and those who long to learn more about the richness of Catholic tradition
The Integrated Catholic Life A Catholic eMagazine about integrating faith, family and work
Family Life Center International Provides a wealth of resources geared toward deepening a family's love and knowledge of their faith and thus hopes to impact today's society, placing special focus on fatherhood
For Your Marriage Tons of resources for those considering marriage and those married ... covering every topic including parenting, family, finances and so much more
Fathers For Good An initiative for men by the Knights of Columbus, on this site you'll find information, inspiration, expert advice, answers to your questions and more ... whether you are a seasoned dad, a new dad, a dad to be or a single guy wanting to know more about fatherhood
Decent Films Guide provides film appreciation and criticism informed by Christian faith
YOUTH & TEENS
Visit the Youth Faith Formation page to find links there that provide many resources especially for for youth and teens (and parents) for help with tackling today's issues while learning and applying your Catholic faith, including: