The Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis is rolling out a series of activities to help families grow together throughout Lent.
This is Home is a free seven-part series resource that begins the week of Ash Wednesday (March 2) and continues through Easter Sunday (April 17).
Family Life Coordinator Rachel Uchytil said she wanted a short name that also evoked thoughts of the Church as home, and to bring the Church to the home.
“Some of the weekly themes are based on the ideas from the archbishop’s ‘The Gift of Sunday’ pastoral letter,” she said.
Beginning the week of Ash Wednesday, families with children 10 and younger who sign up for the free, at-home resource will receive an email with a reflection on the upcoming Scripture, questions for a parent-led discussion and an activity that is designed for the family to do together at home.
“It’s intended for people to help their family prepare for Easter,” Uchytil said. “Long-term, we want to help families connect what happens at Sunday Mass to everyday life in their home.”
Talia Westerby – who has four children younger than age 10 – helped test-run the program for Uchytil’s team.
“She did more than guinea-pig it,” Uchytil said. “She put the activity portion of it together and she tested it out with her own kids. She included some videos and images of her family modeling some of the activities.”
The Office of Evangelization and Catechesis is planning to roll out a new edition of the resource for every Advent and Lent, and is working with the Office of Hispanic Ministry to put together a culturally appropriate Spanish offering during Advent.
“We would like to build up the Domestic Church,” Uchytil said. “For a family that has never prayed together at home, or never talked about faith in the home, this is a really easy way for them to jump into that in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. My hope is that of all the families that are participating — which we expect to have about 200 or so families participate — if even one of them becomes closer to Christ and closer to each other through doing this program, then I’ll be happy.”
The weekly activities are able to be modified depending on the age and ability of the children in the family. For instance, in one of the activities, if a child isn’t ready for scissors, there is a modification where they can twist pipe cleaners rather than cutting paper.
“The biggest challenge was making sure the activities were appropriate for families that have very young children—toddlers and under – and then slightly older children up to age 10,” Uchytil said.
The first activity involves creating a small space and putting out a jar that can be added to as children make sacrifices throughout Lent. Throughout that period, black or white beans will be added to the jar; the suggestion is that when Easter comes, those colorless beans are replaced with colorful jelly beans to reflect what happens at Easter.
The resource can be viewed on printable PDFs or on a phone or computer.
Uchytil said the prayers can be adjusted based on a family’s comfort level.
This is Home begins the week of Ash Wednesday (March 2) and continues through Easter Sunday (April 17). Families are encouraged to sign-up to get each week delivered straight to their inbox by visiting www.archmil.org/This-is-Home.
“This is a simple way to start praying as a family,” Uchytil said. I hope families know that not only will you be praying together, but our Office of Evangelization and Catechesis will be praying for you, too.”