Sunday, February 15, 2015

Revamping Sunday School Programs

In the Peace Weekly, Diagnosis of Current Affairs, the columnist explains why he is working with human rights issues. He loves the work, and he attributes this love to the time he spent in Sunday School as a child. He thanks his parents for the gift they gave him, and considers it fortunate that those years gave him a world view, and a way of thinking which he was able to develop.

No one is born with a way of thinking or a world view, but it comes with education. In his public schooling he was exposed to the historical mission of national renaissance. He feels that he was repeatedly trained to see his mission as one with the nation: the nations development was his development. The existence of the nation was to determine his own existence. It was a military style training; the object was grades with little time for leisure.

Sunday school was different. No teacher tried to control the students; they were devoted to the teaching, which was also more polished. Even though poverty was everywhere they had slides, movies and other visual aids to help in the education. They had  camp and retreats that would require lodging and meals away from home. School support fees were only a few hundred won, and if you did not pay, the parish would take care of it, and they did not make you feel like a thief, as was the case, often, in the public schools. They were teaching other values that were missing in the public schools: love for others and what was  necessary in living the virtuous life. They were teaching what a thinking life should be.

Today the Sunday School Programs are dying. The churches are filled with old people. The children, and especially the young people are not interested, and this has been true for some time. What is the reason? Is it the pressure of college entrance and the after- school academies? Is it the ever present smart phones, and the tepid religious life of the parents? All are reasons,but the columnist feels the biggest problem is the lack of concern on the part of the parishes-- not like it was in the past.

The teachers are young, few, and are changed often.  Young priests do not have the experience, and after a few years leave. Teachers do not have confidence that what they are doing will have any concrete results. This has  brought about the decline in the  programs. Most of the parishes devout less than 5 percent of the budget to the school program. 

He concludes his column with a desire to make the programs even compete with the schools and academies. He feels there are many in the parishes  with the qualifications to teach. He wants the parishes to look for teachers among the older parishioners, school teachers, college professors and to  arrange for special lectures. Place placards on the streets inviting  those who are not members of the parish to come to the programs. He wants the parishes to give the religious education of the young high priority, for without these programs the future of the Church is bleak. 

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