Saturday, July 30, 2016

Suggestions for the Catechetical Programs in Parishes

Problems we have in the pastoral work with the young are not something that just recently appeared but has a long history. Many solutions have been tried and much discussion has transpired over the years but matters have gotten worse. Students who are coming out to the Sunday school programs continue to decrease. Middle and high school students only one in ten are attending Sunday school, and of the teenagers, we have only six or seven out of one hundred who are coming to church.

Many dioceses are gathering interested persons together to find solutions to the problems and all agreed the whole program has to be overhauled. We can't continue conducting our programs for the young in this way.

In one of the diocesan open discussions on the topic, one priest mentioned it is no longer a crisis but a question of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. If we continue in this way in a few years only half of those now coming out will be in our programs. The class system that was used for the past fifty years is not working and only ten percent of our students in middle and high school are coming out.

One priest mentioned we should forget about teaching doctrine and concentrate on how to hand down the faith. We have to change the whole framework of what we are doing. We need to forget the Sunday school program and envision a pastoral plan for the young.

One diocese agreed that the whole framework used up until now has to change. One participant feared that by working with the problems of the young people and working for a solution we may consider that all the problems are being handled which is not the case.

One priest considered one of the big stumbling blocks was the priests themselves with their control of the program and autocratic ways. The bishop of the diocese said they can be a problem but they are also the ones that give life to the programs and asked for their continued concern. 

In one of the diocesan discussions one student leader mentioned the changing of the assistant priests every year is a big problem and detrimental to the spirit of the teaching staff. We need a committee to be responsible and more of a hands on policy by the diocese.

Teachers suggested in one of the open meetings: education for the parents, common use of good programs, texts that consider the situation of our students in our present reality, and priests who are educated in youth work that will visit the parishes and work with the teachers. Catholic Schools should also work harder at developing a Catholic Spirit among the students.

One person who has taught for over thirty years in the catechetical program for the youth thinks that more time should be spent in teaching about marriage and Christian family life. That will solve many of the problems that will we have in the future.

A person with a background in cultural studies with a doctorate in the field stresses that the church community has to be different from the world, and when the young people feel this, they will come. With the values of the world: they will receive what they give and give of what they receive, has to be changed to a foundation based on love where you give without condition and receive of blessings. Once they feel this in community the thirst of the young will be satisfied and they will find joy.

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