Upper Saddle River Church Wins 2017 New Wineskins Award

The Church of the Presentation and the Family Faith Formation (FFF) program in Upper Saddle River has won the 2017 New Wineskins Award at the NCCL Annual Conference in Dallas on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. This award is given to one parish in the USA who stands out for their extraordinary achievement, creative and innovative ideas in teaching and passing along morals and faith experiences to children.

The thrust of Presentation’s innovative program is to blend technology with theology, utilizing modern digital and interactive communication techniques with which children are familiar. FFF is a digital, interactive, multimedia learning tool, available 24/7, that helps children discover and live their faith.

“Parents are the primary religious teachers of their children. In FFF they are active collaborators of the program, working with their children in a forward-looking, fun, hands-on, digitally playful and theatrically creative experience,” said Fr. Bob Stagg, pastor of the Church of the Presentation.

“This program is a radical departure from the traditional catechist-centered focus to a kid-centered inquiry experience. The child-friendly story and game platform, along with multimedia experiences, provides an accessible and attractive learning opportunity,” Fr. Stagg continued.

Theatrical Plays bring the Bible stories and Christian themes to life. The cast and backstage collaborators entertain children of all ages while imparting Catholic teachings embedded in the scenes. Past productions have brought the power of the Holy Spirit alive through the Star Wars theme; Pokemons ability to pop up in different environments brought David and Goliath to reenact their power struggle, along with songs of forgiveness, hope, faith and love. Monthly family gatherings create fun, interactive experiences and community development time with other families involved in the program.

“The goal of the program is transformational. Transformation happens ‘along the way.’ It is not only meant to awaken the faith of children and young teenagers, it is also meant to enliven the faith of young parents, catechists and the parish family of 4,200 families,” said Catzel Bumpus, Director of Lifelong Learning.

Besides a 24/7 digital experience of stories, videos, music and games, Presentation’s FFF has a monthly Sunday Mass (10 am) where children are involved in many aspects of the liturgy. As lectors, choir members and cantors, ushers and greeters as well as presenters of the gifts, children are intimately involved in the faith-life of the parish.

Presentation’s FFF is a proven 21st century alternative to traditional in-classroom learning. This program also gives shape to the vision of Pope Francis, ‘to be bold and creative in this task of rethink the goals, structures, style and method of evangelization.”

Below (L-R): Carol Ann Gaddis of National Conference of Catechetical Leadership; Catzel Bumpus, Director of Lifelong Learning at Presentation Parish; Theresa Gagliardotto, Manager of Presentation’s Family Faith program, and; Dianne Carr, head of Presentation’s RCIA and Adult Education office.