Michael Theisen, National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry

Catholic Churches Present Lenten Retreat

“Let’s face it, parenting today is not an easy undertaking. We need all the help and support we can get, especially when it comes to passing on the faith to our children and teens. “

So says Michael Theisen, Director of Membership Services for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, DC.

He should know.

Not only is Theisen a husband and father of three, but he has worked with young people and families for over 25 years. He has published over fifteen books and numerous articles on the topic of families and faith, and has worked at the parish, diocesan and national level.

These days, Theisen travels around the US, speaking in individual parishes and at larger venues about how families can develop the faith that will sustain and support their children when they grow into adulthood.

He also helped develop the program, “Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth.” He’ll be sharing his expertise March 30-31 as part of a family-friendly Lenten retreat sponsored by the four parishes of the Webster-Penfield Catholic Connection (Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, St. Paul’s and St. Rita’s).

Theisen states that the research on children, teens and faith is clear: as leaders of the “domestic church,” parents have a tremendous amount of influence on the way their children will practice their faith as adults. Yet, he is quick to state that they can’t do it alone.

“The Strong Catholic Family process works because it starts where the parents are. It makes no judgments. Instead, it invites them to work with parish leadership to create an active partnership between the home and the ‘institutional’ church.

This helps families to ‘bring home the faith’ they experience at church to their family. Likewise, it helps families to bring their faith to the larger community.

“It’s this partnership that enables parents and parish to pass on their faith to the next generation.”
“This family – friendly Lenten mission is aimed at creating a partnership between the home and the parish in order to support parents in the powerful task of growing in faith as a family.”

“We really hope our young families will participate in this retreat. We value them and want to provide all the support we can to them as a faith community,” says Fr. Paul Gitau, Pastor of St. Paul’s Church. “This retreat was designed specifically for families. It’s short, engaging, and filled with practical, realistic ideas. And participants will have the chance to talk with others about the joys and struggles of living the Catholic faith as a family.

“Church-going or not, all are welcome to this special event.”

The first session, ”Who Do YOU Say that I Am?,” will be on Sunday, March 30, 2014, from 1:00-3:00 pm at St. Rita’s Church, 1008 Maple Drive. It will be interactive, involving all ages in an engaging event that will leave participants laughing, talking, and thinking more deeply about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the world today. Participants are invited to arrive early for a simple lunch of soup and salad served in the School Hall from noon until 1 pm.

The second session, “Bringing Home the Faith,” will be on Monday, March 31 from 6:00-8:00 pm at St. Paul’s Church, 783 Hard Road. Theisen will lead a session directed to parents, grandparents and other interested adults on how best to bring the “Good News” to life around the family table. There will also be special age-appropriate sessions for youth and children on the same topic. Again, families are invited to arrive early and share in a pizza supper from 5:00-6:00 pm in the Church Hall.

Both sessions are free and open to the public. Families are encouraged to call ahead if they are planning to participate in the lunch or dinner. Donations will be accepted to help offset the cost of the meals.

For more information, call St. Rita’s at 671-1100 or St. Paul’s at 671-2100.

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