Keeping youth connected to the faith

For most of our students, school will be starting in just a few days. I hope that you have taken advantage of this bit of extra time to relax and reconnect with your families. Welcome back to all our returning families and special welcome to our new families. We look forward to partnering with you to make this another outstanding school year. Family connection with our schools is a key for your child’s successful educational journey.

One exciting area of focus this year will be the Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth program. This initiative started last year as a pilot program with the Algona area Catholic community. This year we are expanding to the Humboldt and Le Mars areas and schools.

This national program is based upon a multi-year research study from the National Study of Youth and Religion. Key elements were identified to keep teenagers active in their faith as they move into adulthood.

These elements are:

  1. Children will participate in their faith at the same level as their parents
  2. That parents have a significant influence on faith participation
  3. Those children who are active in their faith live more fulfilled and successful lives in their twenties than their peers who were not active in their faith.

Our schools are a strong resource for youth development, however without a strong parent partnership the chances of students being active in the Catholic faith as adults is significantly reduced.  With this in mind, our schools are creating new initiatives to increase the partnership between parents and our schools.

Educating our own staff is the first step so a diocesan team is rolling out the Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth program to selected communities. Also, this September all of our teachers and administrators will participate in a one-day conference with the theme of Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Schools where they will learn more about how to implement these ideas in their school.

Finally, all of our administrators will participate in a three-day retreat on this topic. I encourage you to learn more about this program by going to http://www.strongcatholicfamilies.org/ or talking with your administrator this fall.

Thank you to the parents who have already chosen to utilize their Catholic schools. I also encourage all families who are not currently using their Catholic school to contact their local administrator to learn how we can partner together in developing your children’s faith and future.

Dan Ryan, Ed.D., is superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Sioux City.

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