WHEN the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced to break the chain of the coronavirus outbreak in the nation on 14 March 2020, it also broke the pace of life in the parishes. Along with the suspension of Masses, all spiritual, religious and parochial activities were disrupted. Thus, Sunday School classes, whether they be for Children Initiation or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), were abruptly stopped.
Notwithstanding, the Catechetical Commission and Committees dive into ways to reach the students of Sunday School (Pertemuan Minggu Gembira/PMG) and RCIA who are “locked down” at home to enable them to continue their catechesis.
Many parents have risen to the challenge to take on the role to be a “catechist or faith formation teacher” at home during the MCO, assisted by the Sunday School teachers, who work together with them to monitor and guide the students.
The learning methods and activities are as provided in the Malaysia Catechetical Series (SKM) textbook and IKD meetings.
Weekly catechesis materials, which are provided by the Malaysian Catechesis Commission (APCKL), are given to the students to work on. Some students do these activities right on the screen, while some teachers take the initiative to make copies of these activities and distribute them to every student/parent in the village.
Activities like quizzes, drawing and colouring, are some of the varied ways to communicate with the students through WhatsApp and google meetings.
Appropriate spiritual films are suggested to parents and students to watch in order to make good use of MCO time to increase their knowledge on spirituality and faith.
Parents are strongly encouraged to bring their children together with them to attend live-streamed Masses in the homes to sustain in them the values of the Holy Mass in spite of it being virtual.
Fr Nicholas Stephen airs special live sessions with children via FB Cahaya Kinabalu three times a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) which are broadcasted from 7.00 pm onwards. They are:
1) Heart to Heart of a Shepherd Segment – This Q & A segment helps us to better understand the Catholic faith and a deepening knowledge of Catholic teachings.
2) Family Session – This segment focuses on family institutions, addresses issues that are at stake in family life, and provides many forms of advice and tips for building a Catholic family based on Jesus’ own teaching.
3) Children Session – In this segment, Fr Stephen brings children to know Jesus and to understand His salvation plan for mankind through activities such as drawing, colouring, storytelling and Q & A sessions.
In spite of every effort by the Commission and committees, there are still students, especially those in the outstations, who are unreachable because of no access to internet due to infrastructure and affordability. – Sr Dariah Ajap
What is Family Catechesis
Family Catechesis is a religious education program in which parents participate fully in the faith formation of their children. Parents are the primary teachers of faith. For this reason, it is important to work together with parents in forming disciples [excerpts from the General Directory of Catechesis (GDC) and the National Directory of Catechesis (NDC)].
Here is what the Bishops have to say:
- Family catechesis precedes, accompanies and enriches all forms of catechesis. (GDC 226)
- Parents transmit and bear witness to human and religious values. This activity, which is both human and religious, is a “true ministry” through which the Gospel is transmitted and radiated so that family life is transformed into a journey of faith and becomes the school of Christian life. (GDC 227)
- Parents are the primary educators in the faith. The family is defined as a “domestic Church,” that is, in every Christian Family the different aspects and functions of the life of the entire Church may be reflected: mission, catechesis, witness, prayer etc. (GDC 255).
- It is for this reason that the Christian community must give very special attention to parents – they must help them assume their responsibility of educating their children in the faith. (GDC 226)
- Within family-centred catechetical programs are opportunities for parents to catechize their children directly, for spouses to catechize each other, and for children to catechize one another and their parents. (NDC 259)
- When children are baptized, parents accept the responsibility to bring up their children in the practice of the faith and to see to the divine life that God gives them, while at the same time the Church promises to help parents foster their children’s faith and assists them specifically in their role as catechists of their children. (NDC 235).