Stebbings: Becoming who God created you to be – The Citizen

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Jesus invites us in St. Matthew’s Gospel to, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened” (11:28). Labor Day and summer vacation are now behind us, and a new school year is underway. With a new school year begins all the regular and extracurricular activities. We can quickly become burdened with all the stuff of life.
Next Sunday, Sept. 17, is Catechetical Sunday for us as Roman Catholics and the official beginning of the 2023-2024 faith formation year. The theme of the year is, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened.” This year’s theme reminds us of the invitation we receive from the Lord Jesus to follow Him and the promise that He doesn’t want to add to our burdens; He wants to lighten them.
Jesus is inviting all of us into a deep and abiding relationship where He is the center of our life. With Jesus at the center of our life, everything else falls into its proper place. He wants us to live life to the fullest, and not merely be alive. Jesus is inviting us to encounter life-changing love, to engage with His teachings, and become a disciple who shares the Gospel with everyone we meet.
Jesus wants us to see the beauty of our life and not be burdened by it. He wants us to become who we are created to be!
All Catholics are invited to join us for the 2023-2024 faith formation year, to meet Jesus for the first time, or to continue building your relationship with Him. Whether you and your family are of strong faith or you are seekers of truth, whether you feel you have it all together or you feel hopeless and lost, everyone is welcome. We have something for everyone.
What is being offered for the 2023-2024 faith formation year at the parishes of St. Mary’s, Sts. Mary & Martha, Our Lady of the Snow and Good Shepherd Catholic Community?
Prekindergarten (ages 3 and 4) Allelu! is anchored with child/family activity sheets that are simply and easily connected to real life. Activity sheets provide engaging and understandable prayers, activities and saint stories, as well as brief, teachable insights for the entire family. Designed like placemats for the dinner table, Allelu! activity sheets can be integrated into positive family rituals, such as eating meals together. In fact, some of the most significant moments of Jesus’ ministry centered around meals with others. Meal-time activity sheets also reinforce the Eucharist — a very special meal — that is at the center of Catholic worship.

Kindergarten Faith Club is a hybrid program of home study and gathering with other kindergarteners two Sundays a month to share and grow in faith together.
Family of Faith is the first- through fifth-grade program that combines whole family at-home learning and two community gatherings a month.
Carlo Stebbings
Connect (sixth and seventh grades) is a Catholic middle school youth ministry program. It provides a safe, fun place for youth to find solid Catholic community, to get answers to their questions about faith and, most importantly, to experience Jesus in a profound and personal way. It meets twice a month at the same time as Family of Faith meets. Parent sheets help continue the conversation at home.
Eighth and ninth grade years are focused on the sacrament of confirmation and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
High school is a time of further discovering who you are and your mission in life. High school gatherings focus on scripture, fellowship and serving others.
Adult faith formation is coupled with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Two weekly Bible studies also are offered at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at St. Mary’s Schrader Hall and 11 a.m. Thursdays at St. Francis’ Nacca Hall.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults begins Sept. 28. RCIA is for men and woman who are not baptized, baptized Catholics who haven’t received other sacraments, or those baptized in another Christian tradition who would like to learn more about the Catholic church and who may desire to enter into full communion in the Catholic church.
For more information on all that is offered, if you have questions, or if you are ready to take your relationship with Jesus Christ to new heights, please contact the Faith Formation Office at (315) 252-7593 or You can also find information at
Carlo Stebbings is the faith formation director for St. Mary’s Church, Sts. Mary & Martha Parish (St. Francis and St. Hyacinth churches in Auburn), Our Lady of the Snow Parish (St. Joseph Church in Weedsport and St. Patrick Church in Cato) and Good Shepherd Catholic Community (St. Michael’s Church in Union Springs, St. Patrick’s Church in Aurora, St. Patrick’s Church in Moravia and Our Lady of the Lakes in King Ferry). He can be reached at

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Carlo Stebbings
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