Megan Noll headshotAnita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

“It’s an igniter,” Megan Noll said of Early Catholic Family Life. “It’s a great program for families.”

ECFL, which includes content for both children and adults, is designed for families with children ages 0 to 5. The goal is to give parents a head start in passing on their faith.

Diocesan director of marriage, youth and family, Noll promotes ECFL as “a way for the family to pray together and to learn about their faith together.”

“It’s based on Early Childhood Family Education, which is an educational model,” she explained. ECFL was developed as a faith-based curriculum by Minnesota residents Alan and Joanne Foley, who launched the program in 2000. It has since spread to dioceses and parishes across the country.

“I think one of the advantages of this particular program is it helps families become more involved in their faith life and in their parish life,” Noll added.

To facilitate the spread of ECFL, the Diocese of Superior sponsors an annual training day; this year’s session runs Saturday, Nov. 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at St. Anthony of Padua, Tony.

Noll expects the event will attract young families from throughout the diocese, but there will also be travelers from farther afield. At least one visitor from Atlanta is attending.

That’s because the curriculum cannot simply be purchased, she said. “You have to go through the training to get the materials.”

ECFL includes a parent component and child component. The child’s part is very hands-on and age-appropriate – baptism is demonstrated on a doll, for example, or children can dress up in a priest’s garb.

“I think it’s great because it’s extremely involved,” Noll added. “There’s kind of a tactile thing that’s great for preschoolers.”

Noll used to work more fully with ECFL, and she was impressed by the quality of the curriculum.

“The thing that I loved about the program is that no one ever complained about it,” she said. “It’s good.”

Often, parents leave wanting to become more involved in their churches. Some have started groups for moms or a parish ECFL program; others have developed friendships and mentoring relationships with other young families.

In the midst of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops’ meeting on the family, and anticipating next September’s visit to the U.S. by Pope Francis, “I think the timing is perfect for our diocese to start using ECFL,” Noll commented.

A minimum of two people per family or parish must attend the training, according to Noll. Up to four people may attend for the $100 fee.

“You’re paying for training, but also for the curriculum itself,” she added. “It’s easy to implement, and the training just clarifies the content.”

Those interested in attending should first contact their pastors to inquire about parish sponsorship, Noll said. They can also contact her, 715-234-5044, for more information.