Catholic Diocese funds $15,000 for St. Joseph's Family Faith Club


By Barb Arland-Fye

Editor Catholic Messenger


Father Guillermo Trevino quotes an adage in Spanish to convey the importance of parents’ roles as faith formation leaders in their families: “Las padres son los primeros y mejores maestros.” In English: “The parents are the first and best teachers!”

Catholic Extension Society, affirming that message, is providing grants to St. Joseph parishes in West Liberty and Columbus Junction, and four other parishes in the Diocese of Davenport.

Father Trevino leads the St. Joseph parishes.

Each grant of about $15,000 also goes to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, St. Alphonsus in Mount Pleasant, and the Ottumwa cluster of St. Mary and St. Patrick.

In West Liberty, the grant will fund the Family Faith Club, the parish’s dream project that provides monthly gatherings for families with children in grades 1-5. Gatherings are centered around Scripture-based learning, prayer, fellowship and activities that strengthen family faith formation.

“We recognized a need for increasing the comfort and ability of family leaders to speak with their children about the faith in an age-appropriate level,” the parish said in its grant application. “Furthermore, by offering these gatherings as bilingual events, we will help bridge the gap between the Hispanic and Anglo communities of our church.”

The Columbus Junction and West Liberty parishes have decided to hold their “dream projects” on Wednesday evenings, already set aside for faith formation.

“I feel fortunate that both of my parishes received grants,” Father Trevino said. “The emphasis in both parishes is to help parents educate their children in the faith and to provide a support system. It’s an opportunity we wouldn’t have otherwise because we have limited income,” Father Trevino said.

Diocesan Stewardship Director Jennifer Praet described announcement of the grants this month as joyful news. “All of the parishes that participated in the listening sessions in March with Catholic Extension for the Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative — Formation for the Next Generation program received their full ask. The grant provides for family faith formation in their parishes.”

Their “dream projects” connect multicultural communities within each parish and bring families together for food and faith-learning activities, buttressed by faith-building activities in their homes. Catholic Extension assists faith communities located in poor Extension dioceses to help them support themselves. The Davenport Diocese qualifies because it needs additional resources to serve its growing multicultural communities. The diocesan offices of Faith Formation, Multicultural Ministry, and Stewardship collaborate on this faith formation initiative.

St. Joseph Parish, Columbus Junction

The Columbus Junction Parish will begin its project as early as next month with the “Teach Me to Pray” series, which aims to guide parents in serving as the family’s primary catechist. The series will show parents the foundational principles of prayer, including the importance of being present, understanding the four forms of prayer (please, thanks, oops, and wow), and recognizing God’s presence in everyday life (lo cotidiano). Instructors will provide activities in English and Spanish “so we can all learn the forms of prayer and grow from there,” according to the parish’s plan.