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Frequently Asked Questions:

For parishes: What is Family Formation FOUNDATIONS? 

Family Formation FOUNDATIONS is a new set of lessons designed as an entry point to family catechesis, which focus on introducing families to a living encounter with Christ and responds to Pope Francis’ call for the kerygma to become the center of all evangelizing activity.

"When we adopt a pastoral goal and a missionary style which would actually reach everyone without exception or exclusion, the message has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary. The message is simplified, while losing none of its depth and truth, and thus becomes all the more forceful and convincing." (Evangelii Gaudium, 35)

This critical first proclamation is a central element of each month’s content, while using simple, relatable methods to teach the basics of the Faith, such as, what is the mission of our family, who is Jesus, and why the Church and how does that impact my family? 

This one year cycle of Classroom and Home Lessons was created in conjunction with the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Catechism and follow Family Formation’s time-tested and effective framework of meeting once a month at church where parents and children learn about the same topic, each at their own level, followed by three Home Lessons to reinforce and expand on the topics together at home.

Whether your parish is new to family catechesis, or you are a veteran to the model and would like to take an opportunity to refocus on the fundamental kerygma message, FOUNDATIONS could be a great option for your parish.

After a parish completes a year of FOUNDATIONS lessons, they would then start, or return to, the Family Formation 3-Year Flagship Series.

The 3-Year Flagship Series is a comprehensive presentation of all the doctrinal content required for approval by the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Catechism. This series of Family Formation home and classroom lessons were developed over the last 35 years at the Church of Saint Paul in Ham Lake, MN.

The three-year rotation of Cycle A/B, B/C, and C/A includes the two core Family Formation components of classroom and home lessons. Using Family Formation’s tried-and-true method of reaching the entire family with a transforming experience of the Catholic Faith, the series offers lessons that cooperate with the liturgical year and bring parishes and families together to learn their Faith in joy and with excitement. 

Even though these lessons are now referred to as the "3-Year Flagship Series," they have not been redesigned and are not being replaced with the FOUNDATIONS series, released by Family Formation in 2023-24.

No. The current 3-Year Flagship Series will continue to be an option for parishes.

The FOUNDATIONS series is a one-year option, designed for those new to family catechesis, or for veterans to the model who would like an opportunity to refocus on the fundamental kerygma message.

No parish is required to use the FOUNDATIONS lessons. It is provided as an option for parishes who believe this may be a good fit for their families at a particular time. Some parishes may choose to only use the 3-Year Flagship Series.

No. The FOUNDATIONS lessons were created as a "stand-alone" option for parishes, and are separate from the lessons in the 3-Year Flagship Series.

The FOUNDATIONS lessons are available as a parish option every year. Each parish can discern if, and when, these lessons would be the most beneficial for their families. 

After a parish completes a year of FOUNDATIONS lessons, they would return to the Family Formation 3-Year Flagship Series.

Both FOUNDATIONS and the 3-Year Flagship Series contain the two core Family Formation components of Classroom Lessons and Home Lessons. Each option includes monthly gatherings at church for families, adult formation for parents, weekly Home Lessons, hands-on activities, monthly catechist training, and additional support resources for parish leaders on a personalized dashboard. Families receive Home Lessons monthly in each option.

While the 3-Year Flagship Series is designed for a rotation that cooperates with the liturgical cycles, FOUNDATIONS is a one-year cycle. The eight months of FOUNDATIONS lessons provide families with an overview of the basics of the Catholic Faith while creating opportunities for families to strengthen their relationship with each other and with Christ. While continuing to create opportunities to encounter Christ and build up family life, the 3-Year Flagship Series explores topics of the Faith in greater depth.

Classroom Lessons for FOUNDATIONS are written for K-6 and contain a variety of age-specific activities to choose from within the lesson, while the 3-Year Flagship Series is divided into levels for grades K-3 and 4-6. Another slight difference is the length of Home Lessons. The Home Lessons for the 3-Year Flagship Series are generally around eight pages in length and go into more detail, while the FOUNDATIONS Home Lessons are four pages each week. 

These sample Home Lessons may also help illustrate some of the similarities and differences between the two options. See a sample of a 3-Year Flagship Series K-6 Home Lesson (PDF).  See a sample FOUNDATIONS K-6 Home Lesson (PDF).

Both Family Formation FOUNDATIONS and the 3-Year Flagship Series are included on the USCCB Conformity List of approved catechetical materials.

FOUNDATIONS Classroom Lessons and Home Lessons will be available in Spanish for the 2024-2025 religious education year.

The 3-Year Flagship Series lessons are currently available in both English and Spanish.

For parishes:

The number of workers will vary with the size of your program, but in general you will need prayer support, classroom catechists, musicians willing to lead praise and worship, monthly adult speakers, nursery workers (if nursery is offered), people to pass out Home Lessons, a principal, and an overall coordinator.

All members of the Body of Christ are endowed with unique gifts to be used for His service. As with many areas of parish life, this principle is important in making your Family Formation program a success. Encouraging parishioners to use their gifts in service of the Church's educational mission is important to your program and to their individual Christian growth.

The biggest challenge to families is simply finding the time to do Family Formation each week. At our first meeting of the school year, we have parents and children get together and agree on a time, put it in writing, and commit to setting aside one hour each week. For many, the traditional time slot that was used for the weekly religious education program works well. Others may choose Sunday afternoons and use their Family Formation time as part of the way they keep the Sabbath holy. 

A priest holds a singular position of authority in a parish and can effectively set a positive tone by his encouragement and support of Family Formation. Through his priestly ministry, he is uniquely qualified to remind parents of their sacramental vows to raise their children according to the Faith, and can remind them of the graces they have received to enable them to make these sacrifices. In addition, priests are typically pleased to have the additional, regular opportunities for adult catechesis and will often give the teaching on the monthly topic (or raise up other volunteers in the parish to do so).

Obeying legitimate authority is an important part of being Catholic. If your pastor is not supportive, we would not recommend using Family Formation as a parish-wide program. You could, however, use it with your own family through Family Formation For Families.

Each Home Lesson offers parents a great deal of flexibility and a variety of activities. This allows parents, who are the best judges of their children's skills and attention spans, to tailor lessons to their own family's needs.

We encourage parents to challenge, but not overwhelm their children. With younger children, it is best to approach topics at the most basic level knowing that they will be covered again the next time through the three-year cycle.

You can also purchase our Preschool Home Lessons for families with preschool-aged children. Click "Shop Now" under Home Lessons to learn more. 

Family Formation is designed primarily for use with kindergarten through sixth grade students, but many families get all their children (including preschoolers and high schoolers) involved in doing the Home Lessons. The games, stories, and activities that reinforce each lesson are fun for the entire family, and there are many benefits to having your whole family learn the Faith together.

There is a separate Family Formation program for those preparing for the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Students in our program (typically second graders), meet at the same classroom time as regular Family Formation students. Instead of learning about the topic of the month, they are on a separate track, concentrating on their preparation for one of these sacraments.

Each sacramental prep student receives a booklet containing Home Lessons to do with his or her parents the other three weeks each month. Students prepare for their First Reconciliation during the fall semester and, after receiving that sacrament, prepare for First Holy Communion in the spring.

Normally, we recommend offering only one program so as to use the available resources in your parish most effectively. In making the transition, some parishes have found it effective to choose a small number of committed families to use Family Formation on a pilot-program basis for a year. The following year, these families are able to work with the priest/Director of Religious Education (DRE) as advocates for Family Formation, giving testimony to its effectiveness to the other parents in their parish.

Parents do not have to be experts in the Faith to use Family Formation. Each lesson is written at an elementary school level, and is easily understood by everyone. By simply spending a small amount of time in preparation each week, parents can become familiar with the topic in the upcoming lesson. Additional references from Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are given for those interested in further study of the topic. One of the richest blessings of Family Formation comes as families learn about the beauty and truth of the Catholic Faith together. Many parents have testified to the fact that, through Family Formation, they have come to learn and understand the Catholic Faith for the first time.

Even the least committed Catholic parents have an interest in their child's religious formation. By making Family Formation the only option in your parish, families are compelled to try it, and most will soon see the effectiveness of the program. Also, do not underestimate the value of having your parish priest's support. His enthusiastic endorsement of family-based catechesis from the pulpit and at your monthly gatherings will convince many families to give it a try. Personal contact by the Director of Religious Education (DRE) or another enthusiastic parent could help to encourage them through difficulties.

Faith formation at home is critical, regardless of a child's school environment. By using Family Formation, a family can grow together in their faith, and the shared faith experiences offered make for many teachable moments throughout life. Children receive significant lessons in the importance of continuous education in the Faith as they see their parents giving priority to their own progress. At every age, growth in our faith is important!

Both the English and Spanish translations of the Family Formation sacramental preparation curricula for First Reconciliation and First Communion as well as all Grades K-6 Flagship Series Home and Classroom Lessons have been found to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church by the Subcommittee on the Catechism, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and are included on their “Conformity Listing of Catechetical Texts and Series.”  

FOUNDATIONS is currently available in English only and is also on this list.

For families:

We recommend that you stay in a good relationship with your parish through friendly communication with your pastor and Director of Religious Education (DRE). With a positive attitude, you can visit with them, letting them know that you are using Family Formation with your children. Show them samples of lessons, direct them to our website, or have them call us for further information. Remember, you always have the option of doing both your parish program and Family Formation.

Absolutely! All parents are given the graces necessary to lead their children to our Heavenly Father. The additional effectiveness of family-based catechesis is a wonderful blessing to families in these more difficult situations. The clear, simple explanations of the Faith as presented in Family Formation lessons are a great way for a non-Catholic parent to learn about Catholicism and to have their questions answered. Simply use Family Formation in the same way as other families.

Each Home Lesson offers parents a great deal of flexibility and a variety of activities. This allows parents, who are the best judges of their children's skills and attention spans, to tailor lessons to their own family's needs.

We encourage parents to challenge, but not overwhelm their children. With younger children, it is best to approach topics at the most basic level knowing that they will be covered again the next time through the three-year cycle.

You can also purchase our Preschool Home Lessons for families with young children.

A good way to begin this is to become familiar with Family Formation yourself. By using it with your family, you will become a good witness to the effectiveness of the program. Your Director of Religious Education (DRE) or priest can get more information by visiting our website and then by contacting us at 763-757-1148 or [email protected].

Have additional questions? 

Contact us—we’re happy to answer them!