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Pathways to an Intentionally Intergenerational Parish Community - Part Three

Apr 15, 2024

Learning Models

Intergenerational learning provides a way to educate the whole community, bringing all ages and generations together to learn with and from each other, build community, share faith, pray, celebrate, and practice the Christian faith. The key is that everyone is learning together—young and old, single, and married, families with children and empty-nest families, and it involves the whole family—children, parents, grandparents, in a shared experience of the Christian faith. Parishes can make intergenerational learning central to lifelong faith formation in at least two ways: as their core faith formation program for all ages, supplemented by age-specific and age group catechetical programs, or as one element in catechetical programming with age groups.

In the first approach, churches make intergenerational learning their core catechetical experience for all ages conducting monthly, biweekly, or weekly intergenerational programs, and then offering a variety of age-group or peer group programs throughout the month or year to address specific age-appropriate needs. These churches replace or modify their age group programming to place the emphasis on all ages learning together. They often develop a multiyear curriculum for the whole community that can be built around themes from the Bible, the cycle of Sunday lectionary readings, church year feasts and seasons, Christian practices, service and social justice, prayer and spiritual disciplines, core Christian beliefs, and moral teachings.

In the second approach, churches implement intergenerational learning in targeted ways, such as, adding an all-ages activity after Sunday worship, integrating an intergenerational component into Vacation Bible School, preparing for a sacrament or milestone celebration, learning about an upcoming church year feast or season (Advent-Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost), replacing an age group program with intergenerational learning on the same theme, to name a few examples.

Intergenerational learning incorporates three essential elements: all ages learning, in-depth learning in one of three formats, and sharing learning and applying the learning to life. Intergenerational learning programs are extended-time programs and incorporate the following program elements.

  1. A shared meal
  2. Shared prayer experience
  3. An All-Ages Learning experience on the topic of the program with content and methods appropriate for an all-ages audience
  4. In-depth Learning on the topic exploring the content of the program in age-appropriate ways. In-depth learning can be conducted in three different ways:
    • Whole group format provides a series of facilitated learning activities for all ages together – in intergenerational groups or family/age groups – with activities appropriate to each group
    • Age group format provides parallel, age-appropriate learning for groups at the same time with content and learning activities appropriate for each age group – children, young people, adults, and family or parent groups.
    • Activity center learning provides structured activities for all ages as well as age-specific learning activities to explore and experience the content of the program.
  5. An Integration Activity for all ages to discover how to apply their learning to daily life using resources and activities provided in print or digital formats.

 

Examples of Intergenerational Catechesis as the Primary Model of Catechesis

 Intergenerational catechesis as the primary learning model for all ages is developed around monthly or yearly themes drawn from the Creed, sacraments, morality, justice and service, prayer and spiritual like, Church year seasons, Scripture, Christian practices, and more.

Intergenerational learning models blend gathered experiences (at church or in small groups), at-home faith formation, and online resources. They can be structured and scheduled in several ways to respond the needs of a parish community, such as monthly, twice monthly, or weekly programming. Here are a few examples: 

 

A Monthly Plan

Week #1. Intergenerational session at church or in small groups (90 minutes to 2 hours)

Week #2. At-home faith formation with online resources

Week #3. At-home faith formation with online resources

Week #4. At-home faith formation with online resources

 

A Monthly Plan with Age Group Learning

Week #1. Intergenerational session at church or in small groups (90 minutes to 2 hours)

Week #2. At-home faith formation with online resources  

Week #3. Age group learning session at church (90 minutes)

Week #4. At-home faith formation with online resources

 

A Twice Monthly Plan

Week #1. Intergenerational session at church or in small groups (90 minutes to 2 hours)

Week #2. At-home faith formation with online resources

Week #3. Intergenerational session at church or in small groups (90 minutes to 2 hours)

Week #4. At-home faith formation with online resources

 

A Weekly Plan

In the Weekly Plan the movements of the intergenerational learning process are assigned to individual weeks. Over a month the entire learning process is experienced. Each session is usually one hour in length.

Week #1. An all ages learning experience with content and methods appropriate to all-ages

Week #2. An in-depth learning conducted in one of three ways: a) whole community learning together with all ages and age-appropriate activities; b) parallel groups (children, teens, adults, parents) learning at the same time with content and learning activities appropriate to each age group; c) learning activity centers for all ages and for specific age groups  

Week #3. An activity to help all ages discover how to apply their learning to daily life using resources and activities provided in print or digital formats

Week #4. At-home practice with online resources

  

For examples of intergenerational learning programs go to the Intergeneration Faith website at https://www.intergenerationalfaith.com.

 

John Roberto
NCCL Executive Director
[email protected]

 

Did you read PART ONE (overview) and PART TWO (strategies) ?

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