Forming faith, building community
KINSLEY -- Jim and Lynee Habiger hadn’t put much thought into the faith formation of high school aged students.
That is, until their two children were in their teens. It was then that the couple realized just how difficult it is to find people willing to take on the responsibility of providing faith formation for teenagers.
Lynee, the vice principal at Kinsley High School, had been actively involved in teaching PSR (Parish School of Religion) classes to children for several years. When she and her husband couldn’t find anyone to teach the older kids, she and Jim took on the challenge.
Ten years later, the small town boasts 20-40 freshmen through senior-grade high school students attending the weekly gatherings. They started in the Habiger’s home, but the gatherings soon outgrew their house, so they moved to the church basement.
“We kept having more and more children at our house,” Lynee said. “And they were running into a problem with eating. So we decided to provide a 30 minute social time with pizza or nachos, then an hour class. “We have 20 to 40 ninth through 12 graders each week,” she explained. “I taught for many years, so I’m around high school students all the time. I told Father [John Strasser] that I don’t have a lot of training in theology, but I teach the lessons that are provided to me. A lot of times we have a huge number of kids. They are very social. Jim helps me keep control. When you have a group that large, and it’s a social setting, you need to have someone helping.
Lynee stressed that “it’s not just us.” There’s a large team of people who help them, and who provide faith formation for younger students. “I get a lot of help from our DRE (Director of Religious Education, Beth Frame), people who help with the fund-raiser, a lot of people who give up time to make it work. It takes a lot of time.”
What perhaps sets their program apart from larger communities is the age difference among the older youth.
“I think in some ways it’s a little different teaching the entire group, because they’re at different stages.” She said that the age difference can provide challenges, but in other ways she sees a strong benefit.
“They know each other so well,” she said. “It really builds that sense of community. The freshmen and seniors become closer and the age difference is not as noticeable.”
Lynee and Jim are faithfully following the Lord’s call to formation, one of our pillars of Stewardship. And, with help from the parish community, their chosen group is the youth of the parish, a challenging and rewarding age. How is God calling you to assist in the formation of our youth, children, or adults in your parish or in the diocese? How is our Lord calling you personally to learn more about our Catholic faith?