"The mission to educate demands that Christian parents should present to their children all the topics that are necessary for the gradual maturing of their personality from a Christian and ecclesial point of view” (Familiaris Consortio 39). The aim of “Round the Table” Family Catechesis Programme is to prepare parents for this mission. Parents have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children (Gravissimum Educationis 6). The programme builds on the teaching of John Paul II in 1994 Letter to Families; in order to correctly answer the question “What is involved in raising children?”  a fundamental truth should be kept in mind that everyone finds fulfilment through the sincere gift of self (Gratissimam Sane 16). Through making a sincere gift of self we build a relationship of communion. The programme helps parents “to promote spirituality of communion” making it “the guiding principle of education” (Novo Millennio Ineunte).

"Round the Table" uses the parable of the Good Shepherd as kerygmatic catechesis, which acts as the call to faith and builds the foundation for initiation into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of the People of God. Jesus has revealed to us in this parable the mystery of his person and his relationship with us.

Content of the program takes - after Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes - three values: human dignity, the community of mankind and man’s activity (work) and  “relates them to the their divine source" in order to help parents to integrate professional and social activities with the religious life. The programme equally helps them to understand the unity of life, Bible and the liturgy.

The method chosen cooperates with the aim of the content, so that it does not distort the content’s nature but aids its exposition. Family Catechesis "’Round the Table" is based on dialogue, reflection and prayer in the home, to which children and parents are prepared during the parish sessions. Parents are provided with materials, plans and objectives of home sessions. This educational exchange between parents and children in which each person gives and receives is a key factor in fostering communion between persons within the family, the domestic church, the first and irreplaceable school of social life (Familiaris Consortio 21,43).

Parents and catechists present the material using the method of sign, image or parable that offer sources and include suggestions for reflection, meditation and dialogue and at the same time deepen and broaden their horizons. The two elements of these methods, one from everyday life or visible and the other transcendent, act as tracks or rails along which our reflection advances always farther. On this path each person has his own pace, his own rhythm, a different degree of penetration. These methods respects capacity of each person to gather from it what most corresponds to his own needs. For this reason these methods are adapted to adult and child catechesis alike.

During the last three years over 270 families from the parish of St. Ignatius at Stamford Hill in London took part in the “Round the Table” Family Catechesis Programme created for families of children preparing for the First Holy Communion.


Listed below are some of the parental testimonies:

 
“We acknowledge that as parents we are responsible for our children’s Christian education, but it is not an easy task. Where do we start from? How do we share our knowledge and faith?... you are like a compass that showed us the right path in the right direction and on our behalf I can only promise that we will consciously follow this path”.

“I always viewed work exclusively as the way to make money. Since I like my work I used to often accuse myself as being materialistic. I am happy to see it now through the eyes of faith and while daily unveiling my children’s God given gifts and talents teach them why they need to apply themselves to their studies and work”.

“For me it was a miracle, because I gained confidence, stability, I was freed from my fears...and I had reconciled with God... I feel peace because I RECOVERED this very special relationship, which I can now further develop. Whatever happens now, I say to myself “Jesus, I trust in you”.

“Today I can say that through the First Holy Communion of my daughter I have restored my approach to the Bible and my relationship with God and with the Church...I had gained so much knowledge, I have learned things that I had never heard before”.

“Thanks to the Family Catechesis the participation in the Sunday Mass became for him a pleasure not just a duty. But I must say that I know so much more and I am very grateful to you for this knowledge”.

“The learning happened naturally through play, work, art, stories, drama.....After the third session my son had borrowed from the library an illustrated Bible, because he wanted to know more”.

“Children were very happy about each meeting and they were waiting impatiently for the next one. We started to read the Bible at home. I have to admit that it was our children’s initiative”.

“Thanks to the methods of teaching used by the catechists, children were bringing their experiences of learning and the clear understanding of the subjects to family discussions at home”.

“We started to pray the Rosary... These meetings have benefited my family tremendously. They brought us closer together. I hope we will remain this way unceasingly”.

“In my opinion the Family Catechesis is indispensible... and I want to continue participating in Family Catechesis next year”.

“A group of wonderful, full of passion, young people with strong faith led by the equally wonderful and very committed person helped us both - parents and children - to discover God again; God, who I think was present in our life, but somewhere on the side, not recognised, not understood to the end. You have shown us how to be close to Our Good Shepherd...”