In place of Fr. Mark’s usual column, Kathleen and Edwin Link, STM parishioners, offer a reflection.

About two years ago, my husband, Edwin, and I were on a date at a restaurant in downtown Decatur. I looked at him over dinner and abruptly asked, “What do you think about teaching Sunday school?” Of course, after 13 years of being married to me, he was smart enough to know I really meant, “I want to teach Sunday school, and I think you should do it with me.” And so we did.

Now, after having had the absolute pleasure of teaching the 5th grade Religious Education class at STM for the last 2 years, we both agree it was one of the best decisions we have made. In attempting to “teach” the 10 and 11 year olds that came through our class, we quickly realized that we were the ones on the receiving end of knowledge. Their questions, perspectives, and natural curiosity about God and our Church challenged us to more deeply explore our own faith.

We told our students on the first day of class that our number one goal was for them to walk out of the class at the end of the year knowing that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus; that they do and will encounter Jesus every single day. We told them that if they learned something about the Sacraments and the Commandments and some Bible stories along the way then that would be great, too.

It’s hard to gauge the impact that our classes and lessons had on the 5th graders. We do know that the impact that the students had on us was substantial. And we are ready to share that impact with all who are willing to join us!

This year we have been asked to help and support the catechists at STM. We will be providing trainings and support for all of our volunteers throughout the year. We will assist with everything from creating developmentally appropriate lessons to general classroom management. We will offer ongoing coaching and development throughout the year, and we will be present every Sunday to observe and assist as needed. Our catechists will not be going it alone!

We are thrilled that our parish is making this commitment and investment in our Religious Education program. Our hope is that the catechists at STM will be able to truly enjoy their time with the students. When we have enthusiastic and engaged teachers, we will have equally happy students! We want the children of our parish to look forward to their RE classes every week.

This year we will be encouraging the catechists to put an emphasis on exploring our faith alongside the students and even allowing the students’ questions and curiosity about the Church to guide discussions and lessons. There will be a book that catechists can choose to use to whatever extent they feel is appropriate within their classrooms. The bottom line is that we want the students to develop an understanding of Jesus’ love for them and how they can spread that love in their own communities.

In order to make our Religious Education program as strong and effective as possible, we need a minimum of 30 volunteers to join us. We need you! We need caring adults who don’t necessarily know everything but are willing to engage with our young people, search for answers together, and put our faith into action.

Please consider taking this chance with us. There will be an information session in the church on August 18 after the 9:30am Mass. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at katsoss@yahoo.com or 404-754-2621 with any questions.

You will not regret saying yes to this wonderful ministry. Our children deserve our best efforts. We look forward to hearing from and working with many of you soon!

Kathleen and Edwin Link