Last fall, they asked for volunteers to teach Faith Formation in our parish. Kindergarten or third grade.
I'm not sure that I wanted to, but I knew that I had to. And so began a journey with a group of eight year olds who I am sure, twenty years from now, will still be eight year olds to me when I see them and their children. I went from teaching in a classroom style to gathering around a table as a family; from following the study guide to the letter to following it as, well, a guide; from bored kids to a pretty extravagant and vocal group.
Today was the beginning of my second year and we hit the ground running. I'm sure the kids (including one of my own) were a bit surprised by their new teacher. One mother came up to me before class asking if she could come in and join her trepidatious boy until he was comfortable. Absolutely. He was pretty quickly at ease and she slipped out about five minutes into class.
Here's why I'm proud to serve: Up here in Maine, our diocese confers first communion and confirmation at the same time to the seven year olds. Predictably, the second grade class is the largest, and the third grade class, mine, is half the size. I get the children whose parents care at least enough about their religious training to bring them back. In getting to know them, I get to find out what they know.
They don't know enough.
And so through the year I'll pull and I'll prod and I'll get them thinking and learning. And praying.
Our deacon gave a sermon today, and his message, passed down to him from Bishop Malone at our deacon's ordination and inscribed in his bible, was this:
"Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach."
I wrote it down on the back of an envelope in my pew, and shared it with my class this morning.
We're going to have a fun year.