Friday, May 29, 2009

The Catholic Education of our Young People

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday and Youth Sunday in Korea. The Church has been concerned for many years now on the decrease in the number of our young people who have stopped going to Church. It is a dark cloud over the future of the Church in Korea.

The Seoul dioceses report on the state of the problem is that there has been a decrease in the number of children attending catechism classes comparing to what it was 10 years ago. Only about 10% of the young who have graduated from high school attend Sunday Mass. This also holds steady for the number of 30 and 40 year old Catholics who have stopped going to Church. Only 5% of the youth are involved in Church activities.

The Church will have the second youth day next year trying to put some life into the youth movement in Korea. The influence of the mass media on the education of our children is something that we all acknowledge but can do little about. There are few of our young people that find a joy in their religious practices and what it means to be Catholic. There is an effort to make discipleship more of an experience; to feel and not only know the presence of God in our lives but how this to be done is the question.

A recent editorial on this problem wondered whether our programs have a lot more to do with dealing with the stress of our children than with educating them. We have to put feeling into what we teach. In our diocese we had a very strong YCS movement going for many years. The Young Catholic Student movement had the principle of See, Judge and Act and was an attempt to get the Children involved not only with the head but with the heart and body. It discussed problems within society and putting Christian principles to work in trying to solve the problems. It was to develop leaders and to help change society. It was a strong program but the parents did not like to see the time taken away from the students studies and the program eventually died.

The editorial ended with a rather gloomy forecast : “If the family or school is not able to educate than the Church should do it. It is a gigantic job and if the individuals involved are not equipped to benefit by the education it will be an attempt ending in frustration.

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