In many parishes the religious education/faith formation meetings/sessions are in school classrooms. While the classroom probably has a crucifix in it and possibly other religious items, it still feels like a classroom. It is important in a faith formation setting to create an environment that is not only welcoming but one that has a distinct holy/sacred feel to it if at all possible. The environment should speak of something different than “school”. How can you create an environment that better prepares and cultivates something more than “school”? Our aim in catechesis is to cultivate intimacy in Christ. Here are three possible considerations for making your environment more than just a classroom or meeting space.
- Set up a Holy/Sacred Space. Ideally have a cloth with the correct liturgical color as well as a Bible, possibly a stand up Cross and a candle in this space. Other items to consider are a picture related to the topic of the day, a receptacle for holy water and a Rosary.
- Move desks and chairs to create a unique feel for the children/youth. Consider putting the chairs in a circle without desks or a U shaped circle with or without desks or moving the desks and chairs aside and having them sit on the floor. The idea is to show those you catechize that you’ve been expecting them and that this is going to be different than just “learning things in this classroom”.
- Consider having your young people line up outside the room and enter all together singing a song and processing to the prayer space. This allows for an awareness that now we are entering into something special during this time together.
These ideas can help foster a prayer-filled and faith-filled environment which contributes to them seeing that faith formation is much more than knowing about Jesus (as important as that is). It’s about touching the heart and increasing a desire in young people to love Jesus more fully and become more fully aware of how they can live out their love for Christ in their daily lives.
What do you do to create a faith oriented learning environment?