Here is an edited article I wrote for our youth ministry newsletter:
As a mom to 5 kids and being involved in youth ministry for over 10 years, I suspect you all may be able to relate to the fact that it can be a challenge getting kids to church and to faith development. Sports, school work, home life and family obligations too often guide us away from what we need most: a relationship with Jesus Christ. All too often Jesus lands dead last in our list of priorities when he should be the first on our list.
Our youth group, and its fantastic group of catechists and volunteers strive each week to make the Catholic faith come alive for your young person. Countless hours of planning and organization go into making learning about Jesus interesting, relevant and positive. It's a tall order for any youth program, but we are up to the challenge and believe, with God's help, we will succeed in creating a welcoming environment where the seeds of faith can grow and mature into a life-long love affair with Christ and His church.
But we cannot achieve such high ideals alone. Over 170 youth in the youth program only meet for a total of about 20-30 hours A YEAR! That adds up to about one day out of 365 days in a year. That is a small amount of time to impart the christian values that we hold dear. Parents must engage in their own faith life in order to change the life of their children. Young adolescents respond to the message that their faith offers an alternative to the world. But this realization requires that parents embrace this difference. Explaining to youth that life as a Catholic is different is not enough. Parents must show how to live this difference.
So the bottom line is that we must CARVE out time in our busy day with our kids to improve our relationship with Jesus and to impart the teachings of our church to our kids. How can we do that? Here's a little exercise for you....
My favorite Catholic author, Danielle Bean, in her latest book, Mom to Mom, day to day, challenges parents to make a list of everything they do in a day...from breaking up sibling fights, to driving to school events, chatting with school parent friends, and cleaning up nasty bedrooms. It's not that hard. Write it all down, and be painfully honest. She asks parents to take a careful look at the choices we make on a daily basis. Is it that we don't have time to teach our children some basic Catholic prayers? Or to go to Mass or Reconciliation? Or is it that we simply choose to do something else like watching T.V., surfing the net, or talking on the phone.? These things alone are not bad things, but somehow they come first over talking about God with our children.
I encourage everyone to "Take 10 minutes" a few times a week to go over some basic Catholic teachings with your kids. Use the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Catholic Source book or The Catholic Youth Bible as your textbook, as well as many other books available online or at your local bookstore. Get started now and make the commitment to raise your child with faith, hope, and love.