Let the Children Come
Feb 18, 2020
One of the blessings of my ministry is being able to directly interact with families who have small children. Young children from birth want to learn about God’s love and have the capacity to respond to God’s love and God’s call to be a missionary disciple. It's part of what is knitted into each of us: the need for the creature to grow closer to the Creator. I have been able to see this at the earliest stages through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS). This program is a hands-on, one-on-one experience of the Bible and the Mass where children move independently through a special space called the “Atrium” and work with materials that they choose. It emphasizes quiet contemplation and "the enjoyment of God.” Through this, I have seen more clearly the idea of how we are all called to accompany our children and one another in a real and present way.
As a lay-minister, I am as susceptible as anyone in looking for the next best or ready-made way to connect people with the Catholic faith. However, what CGS has taught me is that the encouragement of faith is that of accompaniment, which, just like in music, is the simple act of enhancing the work that has already begun. In this case, we are building on what started in the sacrament of Baptism, allowing the small child to encounter God. Through this, I have learned a lesson that not only applies to the smallest of children, but all: that faith can’t be purchased or bottled.
In our post-modernist society, it’s easy to forget that not everything comes ready-produced. A relationship with God takes time and work. In CGS the children do work that at times might seem very physical (washing tables or pouring water), but it allows them to respond to God in their way and time. In the atrium, I must allow God and God’s relationship with each child to matter more than a schedule, lesson plan, or curriculum. Freedom must be central, and I protect this through accompaniment, which allows faith and truth to grow.
For the adult, this has manifested in coming to a place of being able to occupy silence and finding the potential of all work to serve a purpose. In the atrium, this happens along with the child, however, it's crucial to also create those spaces for ourselves and to find people to accompany us on the journey. We must allow the space to become like a child and be open to the possibilities this allows.
Victoria Wejko is a ministry professional in the Diocese of Rochester and currently works as the Associate Director of Formation for Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford. She is married to John, and they reside in Central New York. She is a stepmom to three wonderful grown children and mom to 3 fur babies. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from College at Brockport and graduated in Spring 2019 from St Bernard's with a Masters in Pastoral Studies.