The family is the cradle where the seed of the faith is planted and nurtured. In the Latino/Hispanic family, it has been the women in the family, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and godmothers, who have taken upon them the responsibility to nurture the faith. They have kept the traditions passed to them by other women in their families to pass them to the new generations.
Tradition doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it is embedded in our culture and our way of living. It is in “lo cotidiano” “the everyday life”, and expressed through the popular religiosity that we have inherited from past generations. Either by praying aloud, doing the sign of the cross before leaving the house or by displaying in our homes pictures and statues in different sizes and shapes of Jesus, Mary and the saints, we are performing faith. Popular Catholicism is called ‘popular’ because it arises from the people’s need to express their faith.
Mostly women take a more active participation in the life of the church, mainly in catechesis and sacramental preparation as a continuation of the task of catechizing their own children at home. They also helped in the organization of religious feasts and the needed settings for the church festivities. For them to help in the church is a privilege and an honor that they carry on with respect, reverence and gratitude to be able to serve in “La casa de Dios”, “The house of God”.
However, in the fast pace of life in the US, and the many challenges families face, some women are beginning to forget their faith traditions. Therefore it is of the upmost importance to encourage them to carry on doing so, while they help to grow and strengthen their families and the Church.
How can we promote opportunities and nurturing environments where women of all ages can share their faith traditions?
Some suggestions are:
- Invite mothers, grandmothers, aunts to share faith moments and traditions with Religious Education classes. They can talk about their relationship with God, the prayers they know. They can narrate a favorite Bible story that is part of syllabus.
- Use them as a resource for older students and confirmation classes. They can talk to the youth about their challenges and how God has made a difference in their life.
- Create a class for mothers where they can learn about their faith and they can share with each other how they experience their faith and God´s presence in their daily lives.
- Ask them to bring a memento of their child´s baptism and ask them to tell their child why they baptized him/her.
- Organize mothers and children to do a mini-pilgrimage to a sanctuary of their devotion of our Blessed mother. (Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, etc…). If none of the mothers have a statue or picture, pictures can be printed from the Internet.
- At the first parents meeting, give parents a paper asking them, how and when they will come to help in the religious education class of your child. Collect them at the end of the meeting.
The participation of the mothers and parents in general in the religious education program helps the children to see the connection between faith at home and in their classes. It is also give children a sense of pride to see their parents’ presence and involvement. It helps mothers and fathers to reconnect with their faith traditions and give them some tools to continue their faith formation at home. It creates a partnership with catechists and the faith community.
2015 © Ana María G. Hernández Alstrum. All Rights Reserved.