The Family Catechesis Religious Education Pilot Approaches the Final Stage

The Diocese of Allentown is on the home stretch of their Family Catechesis Religious Education Pilot, which kicked off in September of 2023 and will conclude in May of 2024. Family Catechesis is the formal name given to the type of religious education program in which parents and children participate together. The goal of the program is to empower parents, increase Mass attendance, strengthen families and the domestic church, and grow parish communities.

Bishop Schlert was intrigued by the studies supporting Family Catechesis and its success stories1,2. He suggested a pilot to better understand this program’s implementation in a small, medium, and large parish – this is what our Diocese has called the Family Catechesis Religious Education Pilot.

“Today’s parents are busy, sometimes lack confidence in their own knowledge of our Catholic beliefs, and often underestimate the deep and lasting impact they can have on their children,” said Kristin Osenbach, Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese. “I am excited to evaluate and publish the results of this pilot at the end of the year.”

Excitement for this style of religious education is rooted in providing parents with the tools needed to fulfill their God-given call to be the primary educators of their children in the faith. Momentum seems to be growing in favor of using this method across the country. Recent studies support this program, finding parents have the most influence over their children when it comes to the continued lifelong practice of their faith into adulthood1.

In preparation for launching, Bishop reviewed and approved the textbook to be used in the pilot, “A Family of Faith” by Sophia Press, which incorporates all four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church into four volumes ideally presented to grades 3-6.

During the meetings at the parish, families gather weekly or monthly to support one another and learn together as a community. Each month offers a different topic with fun activities that allow for the parents and children to spend quality time learning together. In between parish gatherings, they complete other activities at home designed to weave faith into everyday life. Families are also encouraged to take part in parish organized service projects, Eucharistic Adoration, and Confession.

Seven parishes are currently taking part in the pilot. They include Our Lady of Mercy, Easton, St. Ambrose, Schuylkill Haven, St. Elizabeth, Whitehall, St. John XXIII, Tamaqua, St. Mary’s, Hamburg, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Hellertown, and Queenship of Mary, Northampton. Over thirty parishes voiced interest in learning more for the future.

The Diocesan Office of Evangelization and Formation supplied the textbooks free of charge. Four parishes choose to implement this program using a different textbook and have also been encouraged to share feedback. Participating parish directors of religious education were also provided with surveys, supplemental content, and opportunities for collaboration throughout the year.

Along with the results of the program, “we plan to supply a list of best practices to help confidently and successfully increase parental involvement in their child’s religious education. There are no perfect programs or silver bullets, but we certainly believe family catechesis is pointing us in the right direction,” said Osenbach.



Photo by Mrs. Mary Spieker, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Whitehall.


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