Over the past month: Summer came to an end, school went back in session, college football kicked off (no pun intended), and Fall officially started. Amid all of this busyness, our volunteer catechists at both parishes prepared for another year of teaching our parish children their Catholic faith.
This year we expect almost 100 students attending religious education/faith formation classes each Sunday between our two parishes. Give or take for holidays and spring break, there are about 25 Sundays available for classes. That’s about 30 total hours of instruction over the year for our children to learn their faith, assuming no classes are missed and everyone shows up on time. Essentially, we have a lot of students with precious little class time to teach them what they need to know.
It takes more than classroom time to form our children’s faith. It takes family time during the week, and that’s not easy with everything going on around us. I remember those years when Kimberly and I struggled to balance work, school, sports, scouts, visiting grandparents, and having fun as a family. Getting our children off to CCD classes each Sunday between their early morning paper route and 11 am Mass was always a challenge. Sometimes we grumbled about it, and sometimes we failed. Although I’m glad we don’t have to go through that phase of parenting anymore, I often wish we would have tried harder to make more time at home to teach our children their faith.
Our Catechism says parents have the first responsibility to educate their children. That includes more than just dropping them off for class on Sunday morning. It means teaching the faith at home, too. It means praying together as a family – before and after meals, at night, the Act of Contrition, the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, the rosary, to heal those hurting, and bless those who need it to name a few. Prayer and faith must openly be part of the family’s daily routine and decision making.
For our parish religious education/faith formation parish programs to work, our children must experience all of us – parents, relatives, friends, and parishioners alike – engaged in our faith by outwardly living a life devoted to Christ through our words and examples. They must see us as truly faithful to the virtues of patience, temperance, charity, humility, diligence, kindness, and chastity. Not in a showy way, but in a way they can relate to.
As classes begin next Sunday, may we always be mindful of our responsibility to teach the children of our parishes about God and our great Catholic faith. As parents, that means taking time at home to learn our faith together. For the rest of us, it means doing whatever we can to support our parents and volunteer catechists. For they have a daunting task, and neither of them can do it alone.