If I were to ask you where you ranked faith education on the list of priorities in your child’s life, what would your honest answer be? Would you place it somewhere on the top of your list together with all the other ‘important must-have’ lessons and activities that would often include extra tuition, music lessons, ballet, swimming, self-defense classes, football, language classes and the list goes on … or would faith education garner a mere once a week, feet dragging, ‘hope the teacher doesn’t keep them more than an hour’, compelled by the Church to attend otherwise no first holy communion/ confirmation merit somewhere on the bottom of the list.
During my younger days, faith education or catechism as it was often referred to, played an important role in our faith formation. Growing up in a suburban parish, there was no excuse to miss Catechism classes. Parents made it compulsory and our parish priest made it compulsory. But we didn’t mind. In fact we looked forward to attending Sunday School after Mass.
Of course some of you might say that times were different then. We were not plagued with extra-curricular activities and attending tuition was a luxury for many. So, we could spare the time to go for catechism. But times are different now, you’d say. “My child needs to attend all the extra classes and activities if they want to come up in life. There is so much competition out there and it is my responsibility to prepare my child to face the future!”
But what of your responsibility in ensuring that your child is equipped and well grounded in the Catholic faith? What of the promises you made on your wedding day when you said ‘Yes’ to bringing up your child according to the law of Christ and his Church?
Times have changed indeed. Today we are confronted by religious sensitivity. Our faith is misinterpreted and regarded in suspicion by others. Our practices and beliefs come under scrutiny and are questioned. Our faith can be shaken under all the pressure surrounding us and if we don’t establish a firm faith foundation for our children, they won’t be able to confront the allegations that are thrown at them and they won’t be able to stand up in defense of the Catholic faith.
Parents must become the primary evangelisers of their children. For the child to accept and be nourished by the teachings of the Church, parents must be involved directly in sharing the faith to their children and not place the bulk of the responsibility on the Sunday School teachers. After all, how much input can you expect your child to receive in an hour or less once a week? I have encountered parents who blame Sunday School teachers because their child cannot recite the Ten Commandments by heart or don’t know what the Seven Sacraments are. Read the lessons in your child’s religion books with them. That way, you can grow in faith together with them.
We have to remind ourselves regularly that learning about Jesus is a lifelong journey that does not end with Confirmation. It must begin at home and only then faith will find its richness in the ordinariness of our lives. If only more parents see themselves as faith educators at home, we will surely be moving towards a more vibrant Church.