Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Catechisis of the Young

We all know that most young people do not feel comfortable in the Church, and they are not often seen at Mass. It's a  problem in many parts of the world. The Peace Weekly has been covering the subject in depth, this week they focused on the present mindset of the young, as revealed by the following typical responses.

"In the Church there are many things you have to do, you have to be quiet. It is boring. I went on occasions to a Protestant church. It is different. You are free to talk. No one is there to tell you to be quiet. It is freer than the Catholic Church and more fun. In the Protestant Church, you are allowed to make friends while in the Catholic Church, everything is arranged for you, isn't it?"

"My Protestant friends enjoy going out to church; for us Catholics our faith life is important, but isn't there a way to make going out to church more fun?"

"The young peoples' Mass and the ordinary Masses are not that different. The young people do the readings and sing in the choir but that is about it. The priest during the sermon gives us questions to answer and those who give the correct answers get a prize. This makes the time entertaining and since students like to participate and talk, this way of spending the time, instead of listening to a one-way talk by the priest, is much more fun."

"When a student is a member of some club or society then they will regularly attend Mass. If we can get the students to become members of the different parish groups that would make a big difference in those coming  to Mass."

"Learning about our faith is important but there should be events for the young. We had an athletic meet for those in our part of the parish, and all had a good time."

And from one high school girl, "We like to play in an individual way, as we do with computer games, but when we go to church it is always in a group, and this does not receive a good response."

And then the columnist relates the experience of one of the dioceses that has spent the last three years in trying to come to grips with the situation: "The students do not feel that there has been much of a change in what is being done, while the teachers, priests, and the pastoral council believes this has been the biggest change in the parishes." One of the students interviewed said, "The grownups spend a lot of time doing this-and-that to draw up programs that would be enjoyable to the students but in all honesty, most of the programs miss the mark. They are not much  different than the many programs from the past."

 It is clearly evident, the effort to meet the expectations of young people is an ongoing process; especially important is listening to them and finding out where they are coming from. The dilemma is what and how much can be conveyed to the young with the expectations they currently have.

The efforts that are now being made will certainly make for a stronger Christian Doctrine Program in the future but at the same time the faith life of the parents will play an important part  if any of the programs are to be successful.

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