“It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s something transformative and innovative to serve families in our community, led by someone courageous and passionate, yet gentle and patient.
Family Faith Formation is a new program within the four Catholic parishes in Dickinson and a pilot program in the nation.
Leading this community-wide endeavor is Christina Hirschfeld, serving as the newly-created Director of The Catholic Academy.
A native to Dickinson, Christina spent her childhood living in other states, but returned to Dickinson with her husband Joe in 2010.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” says Hirschfeld, who spent 17 years in education. “I’ve also always had a deep love for God.”
Christina was raised Lutheran and when she married Joe who is Catholic, promised to raise her children in the Catholic faith.
“I remember taking our boys to mass and when they were old enough, they’d ask, ‘Why doesn’t mom go up (and receive the Eucharist) with us?’” she recalls. “They had other questions about the faith, too, and I knew they deserved an answer.”
Because of their commitment to their boys, Cody and Ethan, Christina and Joe started attending RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes to learn about Catholicism. A year later, when she was pregnant with their last child and only daughter, Emily, Christina converted to the Catholic faith.
Fast forward to 2020, the Hirschfeld kids are now in their teens and Covid is preventing CCD, (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) or evening education courses for children, from meeting.
CCD pre-Covid had a classroom structure, where a volunteer teacher gave a lesson every Wednesday. Without the ability to meet, parents reported feeling incapable or ill-equipped to teach children at home.
“The whole system was re-evaluated and re-invented,” says Hirschfeld. “CCD was replaced with ‘Family Faith Formation’ and now the parents receive the education and are equipped to teach their children at home. The power is given back to the parents to be the primary influence in their child’s faith formation and that is really important to me”
Just as when her own children were asking questions, her response was to put in the time and effort to find the answers. Now, she is a model and cheerleader for other parents to invest in their child’s faith journey with the same commitment and enthusiasm.
Family Faith Formation is a concept being utilized in other parishes in the nation, but not in a community wide effort as Christina is leading here in Dickinson. Her position also oversees the Blue Hawk Catholic group, RCIA classes and Dickinson Catholic Adults.
“Family Faith Formation is an inspiring, community building program” she says. “All four parishes are united in seeing families transformed. I’m so grateful to be chosen to serve our Catholic parents and children.”
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