April 30, 2017

Friends, 

When I think of the numbers of children and teenagers enrolled in the Faith Formation program, I feel very badly. The numbers of young people celebrating the sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation in the Blue Hills Collaborative is minimal when compared with the number of families living in our community. There are so many families in our 3 parishes who no longer view religious education as a priority. When the Church loses these young families, it hurts us deeply. I also believe that our young people are being deprived of a vital positive influence in their lives. 

For so long the greater majority of Catholic families either had their children in the Catholic School system or enrolled in "CCD." Today that situation has changed drastically. For many of us, it was not a question of whether we would receive the sacraments in our parish; we would have felt out of place if we did not celebrate those sacraments with our friends and classmates. 

Of course, for the most part, our parents were Church-goers and took the responsibility for their children’s religious education as non-negotiable. Some children or teenagers may have resisted this ritual, but it was not our decision, it was our parents' decision. As I write this, I realize that if parents do not see Faith Formation as a priority, then there will be no follow through. We now know that parents are the primary educators of their children in the faith. I realize that this means there must be a commitment on the part of parents. This commitment cannot be just for enrolling a child in a religious education program, it also has to be a commitment to celebrating their faith with their children. Unfortunately, that is a commitment that many parents no longer choose as a priority. 

Any discussion about this matter will reveal various reasons for the indifference. Some will speak about time as a factor, or the Church abuse crisis, disagreements with Church teaching, competition with many other activities, their children's reluctance to participate, etc. In most cases I believe it is either the fact that the parents no longer view Faith Formation as valuable, or allow their children at a young age to make decisions that were not even an option not too long ago. I am amazed when parents tell me the decision is up to their daughter/son. I often wonder if they allow the children to decide whether they will go to school or not. 

Not too long ago the priest could approach a child or go to a home to pursue families that were not attending religious education classes. However, many today would feel that invitation is an invasion of their privacy. 

Young people need strong peer support. The smaller the number of their friends who participate in Faith 
Formation, the stronger the pressure they place on their own parents to not pursue this position of influence in their own family. 

We are grateful to our wonderful families who have decided that religious education and celebrating their faith with us is a priority. You are a gift. 

There are so many other families and children that we don't know. That is sad for us as a Church and as a faith community. We have so much to offer. 

Enjoy Life! 
Fr. Ron Coyne

 

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