On two evenings in early November, the families of the children in Religious Education grades 1-6 at St. Joseph, Somers Point, came together for an interactive, intergenerational learning experience called the Trail to Sainthood. The religious education program at St. Joseph is a traditional classroom based program, but Jackie Baum, CRE, occasionally providing some new intergenerational programs for the families of the religious education students.
Each of the families came on just one night- their regular night for religious ed. classes. Families were notified well in advance so that parents knew and were prepared to stay for the whole event with their children. Instead of a regular class session, the families stayed for about 3 hours for this special event. There were approximately 35 people volunteers who played saints or took other parts in the 4 different sections of the event. Each event took place in a different room. Families spent about 30 minutes in each of the four sections.
During the Living Tour of the Saints families took a tour through the church visiting about 16 saints. Each saint, dressed accordingly, spent two minutes talking about their lives and then handed out a small token for the families to remember them. St. Peter gave each person a Swedish fish, and St. Bernadette gave out bandaids to represent healing. The one exception was St. Vincent de Paul, who collected canned goods from his visitors.
In another room, a reporter from I Witness News, a production of station WCOS (Communion of Saints) conducted Interviews with the Saints. After the reporter finished interviewing the 8 or 9 saints present, the kids had a chance to ask some of their own questions.
Everybody needs a snack break, so why not Dine with the Saints? In an excellent show of hospitality, St. Julian greeted families as St. Martha and St. Elizabeth of Hungary served up refreshments.
Sr. Dot Urban, SSJ, Pastoral Associate at St. Katharine Drexel parish, was the featured guest speaker of the night. Her talk on the Trail to Sainthood emphasized that we are all living saints, but that these special people we call “Saint” have led extraordinary lives. As a result of the lives they led, these people were recommended for sainthood. Sr. Dot explained to the families present the steps in the canonization process.
In the past, there have been Advent and Lent events for religious education families at St. Joseph. For those events, the parents only participated in the first half, and came back after the second half to pick up their children. This is the first time parents were asked to participate through the whole event. The Trail to Sainthood is new this year and because of all the positive feedback, Jackie says there will likely be a similar event planned next year. St. Joseph’s Religious Education program is working on making a transition from the traditional classroom model to an intergenerational model.
If you are interested in planning a similar event, you can contact Jackie for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609.927.3302×24.