Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Our Children

He makes his marvelous works to be remembered; *
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
He gives food to those who fear him; *
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works *
in giving them the lands of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice; *
all his commandments are sure.
They stand fast for ever and ever, *
because they are done in truth and equity.

– Psalm 111: 4–8

Anna Hurdle

Young children are driven by an incredibly strong, unconscious internal growth process to seek out experiences that meet their constantly evolving developmental needs. This process includes the spiritual realm and the religious life as well.

One of the aims of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is to assist the child with falling more deeply in love with God through the person of Jesus the Good Shepherd.  The young children have a particular capacity for the mystery of life and for relationship and celebration of that relationship.

A child brought up in the church, absorbs the sensorial rhythm and customs of the community.  This includes the liturgical cycle as well as parish customs and events such as coffee hour, Holy Chow, receptions, covered dish dinners, and more—that nurture relationships and community. This is the children’s work, and their work is their prayer.  In thinking of our life at St. Peter’s, many of our customs and traditions include food, that act of sharing a meal together. 

We are approaching a year of being away from our beautifully prepared atria and materials, as well as traditions and customs. Yet our children are not waiting; they continue to age and move through successive stages of development.  The challenge has been with how to best meet the spiritual and vital needs of our children.

We offer virtual classes each Sunday for children and youth.  At Christmas we produced a composite video of the nativity pageant. We will be hosting a parishwide virtual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. Sacramental preparation and Solemn Communion will return this spring.

Our families have been creative and faithful with ensuring their children continue to experience the joy and contemplation of religious formation. Parent Cathy Morrison shared, “We cling to these routines of normalcy and love the continued spiritual growth we see in the kids. The kids would tell me that their favorite breakfast was Holy Chow every Sunday. When we went all remote in March, we knew keeping some sense of routine would help us all keep our sanity, especially for the kids.  One of those important parts of our week that we wanted to keep going was the big Holy Chow breakfast. So each Sunday I have made cheesy grits (Fred’s favorite), eggs, biscuits, bacon, sausage (Saul’s favorite), and fruit and yogurt. And while it’s not a break for me, and nowhere near as good as the stuff the teams at church put out each week (no matter what the kids say), it gives the kids something to look forward to.

“Especially reflecting on the holidays and the different kinds of food traditions we all have.  Food gives us that warm nostalgic feeling and joy and keeps us connected to our past. The Holy Chow tradition does that for us each week and keeps us connected to St. Peter’s family in some way. We miss you all (and I personally miss Ms. Hyacinth’s fruit salad!)”

We love hearing these stories about how families are coping and even thriving. We invite you to share your experiences as we await the day with joyful hope when we can all gather again to partake in the ultimate meal, the Holy Eucharist. 

If you would like for your children and/or teens to participate in the virtual formation offerings or need more information on the pancake supper please contact Anna Hurdle or Lyn Holt

Anna Hurdle, Director of Children’s Formation