Family Faith Formation


About Our Program – Family Faith Formation

Our Family Faith Formation program was developed to meet the needs of both students and parents. The family program format is an innovative approach to religious education that has been used in Minnesota and across the U.S. for more than twenty years.  The format of our program is both unique and creative in that it unites the family in both prayer and education, teaches the family about our Catholic faith, fosters a deeper relationship with Christ and each other, and promotes spiritual growth individually, and as a family. 

Most importantly, our program meets the criteria for catechesis and aligns with the very definition of “catechesis”:   “. . . an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no 5). 

Our program supports parents who expressed a strong desire to learn more about the Catholic faith and Christian doctrine. Our program also prepares “parents as the primary educators for their children” (General Directory for Catechesis, # 255).  We strongly believe that a program cannot be truly successful unless parents are involved.  Pope John Paul II wrote: “Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents.”  Including parents in our program also affirms that “education in the faith” is never-ending and continues throughout our lives.

Our program supports students by providing lessons that: a) meet curriculum guidelines for Catholic education, b) are interactive and dynamic, c) support different learning styles (visual, auditory, verbal, physical, logical, social) and c) include discussion in both large and small groups.  When organizing small groups, it is important to consider factors such as age, grade, topic, and developmental needs of the students. Because catechesis (education in the faith) in small groups is “person-to-person,” it is important to consider these factors. In their various forms these {small} groups provide genuine support to people in living their faith in daily life” – Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us (USCCB) #105. 

Students in grades 3—12 participate in the large group family class with their parents. This format provides an opportunity for the parent and student to hear the same message, thereby promoting discussion outside of class. The response to the family class format has been very positive.

Students in grades Pre-K through second (First Reconciliation and First Holy Eucharist) participate in traditional classroom education with a catechist and assistant in each classroom.  The younger students benefit from the traditional format of small classes and education specific to their age and grade. “Catechesis based on different age groups is an essential task of the Christian community” (General Directory for Catechesis #171).  

The curriculum for our program is based on Sacred Scripture, is faithful to teachings of the Magisterium, and references the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  We will continue to use The Four Pillars of the Catholic Church as the foundation for our lessons and education.  The following is a list of the pillars and the year in which they have been taught: 

    • 2013-14: Pillar I - Creed
    • 2014-15: Pillar II - Sacrament
    • 2015-16: Pillar III - Morality
    • 2016-17: Pillar IV  - Prayer 

Getting Started with Family Faith Formation

We will begin our fourth year of Family Faith Formation on October 26, 2016.  We look forward to seeing families already in our program and meeting new families who will join us. This is what you need to know!  

  • Parents are invited to the Parent Meeting on Wednesday, October 12, at 6:30 pm. Please plan to attend – your presence is important!  Fr Ryan will talk about the program, the Wednesday night schedule, and much more!  
  • Mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 26.  This is the first class for the 2016-17 school year. The family supper is scheduled for 5:15 to 6:00.  The family supper is a free. A free will donation basket will be available at supper.  
  • Students in grades Pre-K3, PreK4, kindergarten, first, and second grade attend classes in the classrooms (downstairs).  Our staff of experienced and dedicated catechists are:   
    • Pre-K, age 3:  Joy and Don Majsterski  (Children should be able to follow a lesson)
    • Pre-K, age 4:  Char Nelson and Mary Weis (must be 4 by December 31)
    • Kindergarten: Cathy Svihel and Marlys Brezinsky
    • First Grade:  Marie Schmid
    • Second Grade/Sacramental/Preparation:  Helen Fraser and Joan Johnson
  • Students in grades 3–11 gather in the social hall with their parents to participate in the family class. Students in grade 12 are invited and encouraged to attend class with their families. We are blessed to have Fr. Ryan available to teach again this year. 
  • Our education is guided by the Curriculum Guidelines of the Diocese of Duluth. The foundation of our education comes from The Four Pillars of the Catholic Church.  Lessons for this school year are based Pillar IV—Prayer.    
  • Are you new to our parish? Here’s how to register!  You can find a registration form and calendar on the youth table in the narthex, on our website, or by contacting Marilyn Lessard at 218-692-3731 or at  There is no fee for our program. We welcome you to our parish family!  Please mail or email your completed registration form to Marilyn Lessard in the parish office.
  • Did you attend class last year? Families who participated in our program last year are automatically registered for 2016-17. Parents will be asked to review a Family Information Sheet at the parent meeting to verify addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses to ensure our information is current and accurate. Welcome back!   

New families are welcome throughout the year! Please contact me for information any time! If you need information at any time, contact Marilyn Lessard at 218-692-3731.

 For details about our Family Faith Formation program, click on the following links:

  • Family Faith Formation Parent Letter click here.
  • Family Faith Formation calendar, click here.
  • Wednesday-only Family Faith Formation calendar, click here.
  • To register please complete and return the registration form to Immaculate Heart Church, click here.

 For details about Sacramental Preparation click on the following links:

  • Sacrament of First Reconciliation and First Communion, click here.
  • Sacrament of Confirmation, click here. 

Safe Environment

The safety of our students is important whether they are at church, at home, or in public. The safety training program mandated by the Diocese of Duluth is “Circle of Grace,” a comprehensive Catholic Safe Environment Training Program developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha.  Students in grades K – 2 were introduced to this program during the 2015-16 school year.  All grades will participate in this program for the 2016-17 school year. The “Circle of Grace” program contributes to the protection of our students and affirms that they are loved and valued children of God. 

An important aspect of this program is that it helps our students identify when they are uncomfortable with a situation and teaches them how and when to seek help from a trusted adult (also identified through classroom activities).