Frequently Asked Questions About the Family Faith Sharing Program -- The following are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about the Cluster program:
What is the Family Faith Sharing Community program? The FFSC program is faith formation for all parishioners regardless of age who wish to grow in their understanding of their faith. It is based on the idea of building small faith communities that provide for a sharing of talents among all participants.
Why did we choose this model? There are several reasons for choosing this model for formation. (1) The mandates of Vatican II urge the church to address the need for involving the laity in the work of the church; (2) St. Gabriel’s Mission Statement calls us to be “an apostolic community”; as such, we accept the responsibility to carry out the evangelizing work of the apostles in our time; (3) this format allows for the sharing of all gifts and talents within the community and acts as a catalyst to building small faith communities among our many established and newly-registered families; and finally, (4) in a more practical vein, our parish facility can not meet the ever increasing needs of our community.
What will the format look like? The format is designed to be a relaxed, sharing atmosphere hosted by individual families in their homes. Groups of 8-10 families, usually living within the same general area, are formed according to the similar ages of their children. A FFC facilitator is trained to coordinate the schedules for hosting and leading the various groups. After a short opening prayer, children are dismissed to study their lesson, while adults participate in a study of that Sunday’s lectionary readings. During the last 5-10 minutes of the session, everyone reassembles and shares one thing that they learned or studied in their group that day. Total time remains the same as a classroom model - 1 ¼ hours.
When will we meet? FFSC are encouraged to meet on Sunday mornings between the Masses; this carries on the continuity of Sunday as a day of worship and generally works best for families with busy schedules. Some people who participate in the liturgy (or for other reasons) may choose to meet at another time during the week; as these people register and make their needs known, groups will be formed accordingly.
I don’t think I can teach. What will the materials be like? As parents, we teach our children through our example every day. From the time they are infants and we teach them to walk and talk to teaching them to tie their shoes and dress themselves, we teach our children the basic skills it takes to live in society. The FFSC materials are designed to give parents the confidence to model the faith to their children as well. All the materials have been selected with ease of use in mind. Knowing that many lay people do not have a teaching background, publishers are now producing materials that have “all you ever wanted to know to teach religious education.” The materials we have chosen are simple, concise and require a minimal amount of preparation. In addition, videos and a web site are available for support and ideas. Other supplemental resources and help are also available from the Formation Office. If you choose not to teach, you will be asked to take an extra rotation hosting the FFSC in your home.
Who can participate? All parishioners are invited to participate, regardless of age, marital status or family situation. The Family Faith Sharing Communities program is designed to be a flexible format that can accommodate all needs.
I have a non-Catholic spouse. How can our family participate? Non-Catholics are welcome and encouraged to participate in the community building aspect, as well as the adult session of lectionary study.
My spouse and I no longer have children at home (or do not have any children). Can we participate? Yes, there are two options available. You may choose to join an adult only group, or you may prefer to join a family FFSC.
My spouse and I only have children under age 3. Can we participate? Yes, you may choose to meet with other families of very young children, or you may opt for a home centered program. .
I am single. Can I participate? Yes, you may choose to join an adult group or join with other singles in the parish; you may also join a family faith sharing community if you so choose.
We have two children, grades 2 and 5. Do we have to attend two separate FFSC groups? No, your family will be grouped with other families of like aged children. [In order to allow for more flexibility in the program, children will be grouped in the following manner: 3 & 4 yr. olds together, K in a group by themselves, grades 1 & 2 together, 3 & 4 together, 5 & 6 together and grades 7 & 8 together. High school teens are also welcome to participate in this format. Groups will alternate the grade level texts each year.] So, your family may be grouped with families who have 1st, 2nd, 5th and/or 6th graders.
Can I just drop off my children at a Family Faith Sharing gathering? This program only works when parents are actively involved in modeling their faith to their children. Parental involvement assures the success of each Cluster meeting and distributes the responsibilities equally among all participants.
My house isn’t very large and I don’t think I can accommodate many people. Do I have to host? Because the sessions are relatively short, most people do not mind a bit of crowding; children may prefer to sit on the floor where they are more comfortable and closer to what is happening. If you choose not to host, you may be asked to take an extra turn leading one of the children’s groups, while another family takes an extra turn hosting the Community gathreing in their home.
Do I have to complete the Safe Environment application? Knowing that our children are entrusted to us by God and that they rely upon us for their safety and well being, we feel it incumbent upon us as a community to make every attempt to assure that they are in a safe environment. According to the diocesan-mandated safe environment policy, all parishioners coming in contact with children must be cleared through a simple procedure, which helps to reinforce our belief that our children are our most precious gift from God.
My child will be preparing for a sacrament this year. How will that fit into theFFSC program? Sacramental preparation for Reconciliation and Eucharist are family-centered programs which each include two large group meetings designed to enhance a greater understanding of the sacrament and its signs and symbols. In addition to weekly lessons from the grade level text, parents prepare their children at home for these sacraments. Confirmation (for youth in grades 8-12) consists of a total of 12 weeks in a classroom model setting, a retreat, and participation in service projects. Teens should be participating in a Faith Formation program in addition to the Confirmation Prep Classes. Registration required.
How can I register for the Family FAith Sharing Community program? Registration is ongoing through our website home page, click on epayments, scroll down to Faith Formation Registration.
Is there someone I can call if I have more questions? Yes, call Page Sanders at the Parish Center (972) 542-7170.ext 228