I have been a catechist for about seven or eight years now. I have always wanted to be able to share my love for Jesus with the littles, especially because I always aspired to be a Catholic-school teacher. In Dallas, that is difficult since the pay is about a quarter of what I make as a public-school teacher, and as a single mom, couldn’t sustain my son. So the next best thing is teaching on Sundays. It’s been a blessing to teach at the same parish and the same grade, kindergarten, for all these years.
For many littles, this is the first time they hear that Jesus is a real person, someone they can talk to and listen to at all times. Thankfully for the last several years our program has really shifted its focus to introducing the kids to Jesus, the person, the savior, the friend, and protector along with our rich traditions. During our time together, the littles have an opportunity to share their stories of what they talked to Jesus about during the week.
As I began this journey with the littles many years ago, I thought that this idea of building a relationship with Jesus would be too abstract or hard for them to actually understand. I was pleasantly surprised, by the end of the year, that they really do have a friend in Jesus. The bigger blessing is that their families begin to learn this from them as well. They begin to understand and learn with their kids that Jesus is a person, one who is there always waiting to hear everything about their day, their lives.
I will admit, that this journey with my parish seemed a bit difficult when this shift began. I asked myself, will the littles get it, and yes — they did. I have also grown spritually and nurtured my relationship with Jesus on this journey; I’m his girl, I like to say. This is an important reminder for me, especially when I’m not feeling or doing my best. It’s what gives me strength and courage because he loves me as I am.
Many of the kids that were in my Sunday-school class years ago are in 2nd and 3rd grade now. I still see many of them in the mornings with their families. I get hugs, smiles, and kind words from them as well. On this journey, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my faith, and the Lord.
One of the most important things I have also learned is that if we plant the seed of getting to know Jesus early in life, it will blossom and spread. These little seeds can become what blossoms into our domestic churches and inspires parents to continue planting seeds.
These littles are a blessing to me and to the next generation of Catholics!
Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Estrada