Families with students in Our Lady of the Lake’s religious education program celebrated the end of the year with a celebratory meal at which each grade showcased what they had learned during the year. (Submitted photo)

Submitted by Anna Richardson
Director of Religious Education
Our Lady of the Lake Church, Ashland

This year, the religious education program in Ashland came to an end with a big celebration. All the families shared a potluck feast, followed by a program where each class presented something they did this year.

Here are a few examples of what the classes shared:

Kindergarten showed their Lenten projects, one of which was a crown of thorns made from playdough with toothpicks sticking out of it. The students took them home and each time they did a good deed, they got to take one thorn out.

First-graders recited prayers they learned and also did a pop quiz to test their parent’s knowledge on some topics they learned about.

Third-graders shared about saints that they became experts on after completing their saint report project.

The 10th-grade students shared a part of the Liturgy of the Hours’ Night Prayer, which they did often during their 30-minute prayer time at the end of each session.

The group who went to the National Catholic Youth Conference also presented on their trip and showed a video about the experience. They invited the donors who helped make their trip possible so they could see the fruits of their investment in these youth.

Two years ago, Our Lady of the Lake began offering a family meal before the Wednesday classes start. It has become the source of fostering great relationships among the parents and families.

The intention was to form a community that would flow over and inspire these families to gather around the dinner table of the Mass every Sunday. We paired this with starting “student Masses,” where different grades lead all the ministries at a Sunday Mass once a month.

Forming community does not just mean we want to have fun when we get together; it is very intentional and crucial for ministry, forming relationships among our parishioners so they can have accountability and help each other increase their faith.

The students are forming lifelong friendships that are centered around faith. Parents are interacting with other parents and getting to know new families, and faith formation is a fun, positive experience that they look forward to.

Many people left the end-of-year celebration saying they would be sad to not come the following Wednesday. We will keep them connected over the summer though, through Totus Tuus, Extreme Faith Camp and other opportunities.