SPRINGFIELD GARDENS — After many months of being apart, students from Christ the King’s faith formation program, along with their parents and catechists, reunited at Mass June 6 to mark a “bittersweet” end of the year.
“It was bittersweet because I enjoy being with the children and directing the catechists,” said Robbin Johnson, director of Christ the King’s faith formation program. “And the parents — even if they’re not involved [directly] or doing something — they like to be involved and on Zoom, answering questions with the kids.”
To ensure that the students kept up with their weekly lessons, the program’s eight volunteer catechists created themed lesson plans, wrote individual progress reports, and maintained communication with parents throughout the year.
“This year hasn’t been easy,” said Father Gordon Kusi, pastor of Christ the King Church, towards the end of Mass. “You’ve gone through a lot personally and, as a church, we have gone through a lot.
“But you have done your best, so thank you very much.”
Josette Lewis, whose two sons made their first holy Communion on May 8, was proud to see the faith formation kids in the first through eighth grades put on different presentations with their parents for the church’s congregation.
The themes that were discussed included the mothers of Salem (by classes one and two), the miracle of the five loaves of bread and two fish (by classes three and four), the Beatitudes (by classes five and six), and individual faith journeys (by classes seven and eight).
“Because we don’t get to meet that often, it was really good, and I was very proud,” Josette said. “The strength that’s here and the love and appreciation [throughout the year] meant a lot.”
One of Josette’s sons, Noah, noticed the Mass was held differently because of pandemic guidelines. But he said it was still “very exciting” to receive the body of Jesus Christ.
“I was very nervous, and so was my brother,” said Noah of preparing for his skit, which explained what happened when the mothers of Salem brought their children to Jesus. “But, I felt a little rejoiced.”
Rhonda Dieujuste’s three children — a set of twins in first grade and a seventh-grader — were enrolled in the program this year and will receive the sacraments of communion and confirmation, respectively, next year. June 6 was the first time the Dieujustes returned to the pews since last March.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Rhonda said following the year-end celebration. “I enjoyed seeing everybody because we literally haven’t been here at Mass in forever.
“We’ve been watching the online Masses instead,” she continued, “so it was nice coming together.”
Rhonda’s oldest son Mallich, stepped up to the pulpit during the Mass to talk about his own faith formation journey this year. He reflected upon how fortunate he is compared to other children his age around the world.
“The most important thing I learned this year was that I have to appreciate what I have,” Mallich said.
“I miss this place,” he added as he looked towards the altar after the Mass.
Encouraged by the positive reactions she has received from the program’s families, Johnson intends to keep the momentum going through a hybrid platform next year.
“My catechists truly are God’s disciples in how they assisted in strengthening our families to grow in their faith,” Johnson said. “And, as they assisted our families, they also testified that they grew in their own faith.
“It may seem like the end, but this is really a startup,” Johnson added, “because now we have to plan everything for next year.”