Friday, September 14, 2007

A note for those of you who have kids in religious education programs:

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.


4andcounting said...

That's a great article. I think parishes the world over have this problem of parents wanting the church to do all the educating. We actually don't have our young kids in the Faith Formation program at our parish because we felt like they weren't learning from it last year. We would rather teach them at home and maximize our family time, especially now that one is in school. Volunteering with the high school group, I have seen the lack of education and its results and sometimes feel like we are starting all over. Good luck with your work this year!

Saint Maker said...

Nice article, we recently put our kids back in CCD but we will keep a vigilant watch at what they are learning. I do think community is important but not at the risk of hearing "Jesus had a blood brother" sheesh... God Bless you!
Mother of 6

Georgie Tamayo Clemens said...

4 and's a good choice that you are educating the kids yourself; it's our job as Catholic parents. Even so, when your kids get older, you may want to at least participate in the youth social events that your parish offers so that your kids can have a community of kids who believe the same things (we hope) and have a group to hang around with at church. My daughter has really benefited from having that group...where-ever friends are, your child will follow. Making friends at church is a plus....

Saint Maker...hopefully your parish has a solid DRE that does not allow such error to be taught. yikes!!

4andcounting said...

Oh, we still participate in the Apostolate for Family Consecration, so my kids spend every Friday night with kids of several other families in the faith. And we do participate in whole-community catechesis as well. It is just the one hour on Sundays that we are skipping. I agree that making your family a part of the larger community is an essential part of really forming children (and adults!) in the faith.