St. Pat’s youth bring bags home that help engage families
By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
CLEAR LAKE — Mercy has become a family affair at St. Patrick Parish in Clear Lake. Since February, children enrolled in the church’s faith formation program have been provided with take-home bags that help them actively engage their families in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Each week, one student per grade in the parish’s first through 10th grade faith formation classes takes home a Year of Mercy bag for their family. Inside each bag is a list of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, a Year of Mercy prayer for the family to pray together and an explanation of what the Year of Mercy is all about. There is also a sticker booklet included in the bags for those with younger children.
In addition to these items, the take-home bags also contain a pledge card for families to fill out and state what they intend to do to live out the Year of Mercy. Once a family decides on a specific corporal or spiritual work of mercy to focus on, they fill out the pledge card with their goal and return it to the church, where it is hung on a bulletin board in the parish hall where the religious education classes meet.
The families that have returned the cards so far have come up with a variety of different acts of mercy to perform. One family donated clothes to a second-hand store. Several families prayed for the dead or for those who have been unkind to them. Another family donated money to help with the current drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Inside the take-home bags there is also a white cloth, which families are asked to decorate and return to the church. On the cloth, families put some type of symbol or word that represents the way(s) in which they as a family are observing the Year of Mercy. The parish hopes to eventually create a Year of Mercy wall hanging that will incorporate all the quilt pieces.
A cutout of Pope Francis’ face is also in the take-home bags. Families are encouraged to pose for a picture with the paper pontiff while either doing a work of mercy or spending time together as a family. Photos will soon be shared on the parish Facebook page.
According to Ann Kunst, who serves as the faith formation leader at St. Patrick’s, the take-home bags were initiated as a creative way to get families involved in the Year of Mercy, and “so far I think the bags have been successful,” she said.
“Families are enjoying having this time together as a family learning more about the Year of Mercy, what ‘mercy’ means and our Catholic teaching on this subject,” reflected Kunst. “The goal for these bags is not only for education but also to promote family time in which they experience prayer, acts of service and fun!”
(Photo: McKenzie, Aiden and Haley Clemens have fun creating a Pope Francis figure out of legos. They’re using the cutout of the pope’s face from their Year of Mercy take-home bag. Contributed photo.)