June 21, 2007

Who Will Speak if You Don't?

Who will speak if you don’t?
Who will speak if you don’t?
Who will speak so their voice will be heard?
Who will speak if you don’t?

Who Will Speak?
Marty Haugen (yep, that guy!) © 1993 GIA Publication Inc.

The first stanza of one of the dissident Catholic's favorite songs. Some parishes change the "you" to "we"

I'm thinking, today, that we all need to speak up regarding the appalling state of religious education in our parishes. I could rant at length about it's appalling state in our "Catholic" schools, and I have on previous occasions, but I won't do that in this post.

By and large, religious education courses for both adults and children in our parishes are woefully inadequate.


Here's the way I see it.

1) Dissidents are teaching them.
2) Dissidents show up for the courses and are not corrected or repudiated or silenced when they start sharing their erroneous viewpoints or rants about Catholicism.

Dissident Catholics have absolutely NO problem, spreading their particular brand of "Catholicism" around. Why are we such cowards? We have The Truth. Why are we ashamed of it?

We all make excuses.

1) I don't have kids so I shouldn't be teaching them.
2) I'm afraid to stand up in front of a class.
3) I'm scared that I will not know everything.
4) It's not my place to teach, let someone better qualified do it.
5) I don't have time.
6) I'm not sponsoring anyone for entry into the Church so I don't need to be involved.

Cathy's Big Shoot Down

1) We all need to be teaching our Catholic children. By example and by action. If we don't, who will? That's right, the wrong people.
2) Who isn't? The fear goes away over time the more you do something. The apprehension doesn't always go away, it waxes and wanes. Fear and apprehension are a part of life. Pray to the Holy Spirit and your Guardian Angel for guidence and courage. If you are doing the Lord's work, I'm pretty sure they won't let you down.
3) I just bet the Holy Father himself, in all humility, would admit that he doesn't know EVERYTHING either. A wise man will admit that he doesn't. There is no shame in standing up and consulting the Catachism or Scripture to find the answer if someone stumps you. I think it would help students tremendously if they learn about the resources they need to consult by seeing someone actually using them. They need to know what to do if you aren't there. And you won't always be there.
4) Should someone better "qualified" than you be a Catholic? Christ told all of us to evangelize. I don't remember Him asking for credentials. Several of the early Apostles were fishermen, not M.Div's. They trusted that the Lord would help them with the right words to say and He did.
5) If you think something is really important, you can make the time.
6) You probably never will sponsor anyone for entry in the Church if you aren't involved. And, hey, couldn't the teacher use some help!?! If not active help, at least, supporters in the audience.

In my parish, Father, who is quite orthodox, does all the adult religious instruction. The youth religious instruction is done at our school and it's heavily monitored by the priests. However, in many parishes, that is not the case. Laypeople do most, if not all of the religious instructions. I am not suggesting that clergy and religious do a better job then laity because I've seen several folks in clerical or religious garb who are among the worst dissenters I've ever known.

What we need are more orthodox Catholics stepping up and helping out with religious instruction or doing it, period. I've had countless people tell me about their experiences in parish religious education courses and some of it is really scary. IMHO, most of my regular blog readers would make excellent parish religious education instructors. Some of you already are and I've read your postive/negative experiences. We all need to help them.

Adoro told me last year I should help her with adult instruction at her large suburban parish next year. As there is no place for me to help at my small parish in this regard. I, hearby, pledge my support to Ms. Adoro for next year if she can use me.

What are YOU going to do, Gentle Reader?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy, if you're willing to make the trek, even sometimes, I'd be THRILLED to pass your name on to our Faith Formation Director! We need help! And we're using the red USCCB Catechism this year.

Great post!

~ Adoro

June 21, 2007 10:26 AM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Something easy all of us can do, if you're so inclined, is help Catholic Parents Online by doing religious ed text book reviews. Also, another good site dedicated to the latest sex ed curriculum debate in our Catholic schools is
Primary Educators They have helped alert parents as to what is being taught in their parishes. Parents at least should educate themselves as to what is being taught to their children since it isn't always appropriate.

June 21, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Go for it. Though, I don't know what the red USCCB book means versus the purple versus the black vs the rainbow book. What does it mean?

swissmiss: I did not know CPO was looking for book reviewers. I may have to send Ms. Perfect an email.

Have I ever mentioned that I EXCEL at finding more work for myself? It always says so on my annual work reviews but, I see how it carries over to my life too. LOL!

June 21, 2007 12:50 PM  
Blogger diana said...

The problem for me is, I belong to an orthodox parish made up of homeschoolers and people well-educated in the faith. We travel to get there. I would dearly love to go to the local parish and get involved as a non-member but I am not sure of the protocol.

I also have a way of going overboard...a bull in a china shop. One fear I have is of turning people off by being too gung ho. I would be interested in your thoughts on how to approach that...

June 21, 2007 12:55 PM  
Blogger diana said...

Swiss Miss,
I would love to check that out...when I was looking for kindergartens for my child way back when, I went of course to my (former) parish school. I asked them questions about the curriculum and family life program and felt they just dismissed me like they knew better and nobody should have a problem with their materials (Sadlier).
I felt the PUBLIC school was more respectful of my views!
So I decided to home school because I really wanted a Catholic education for my kids.
Many people just don't know that the catechesis materials are lacking.
I always laugh at that King of the Hill episode where Peggy pretends to be a nun to get a job in the Catholic school, and they ask her to teach religion (thinking she's really a nun) and when she asks the kids what they are learning (about 7th grade) they say "transubstantiation" and of course Peggy had no idea what that is. Unfortunatly most catholics in my generation probably thought HUH??? just like Peggy!
Sorry this is so long...

June 21, 2007 1:02 PM  
Blogger mgibson said...

Regarding non-parishioner status in teaching, it does depend on the parish. As a Director of Faith Formation myself, I would not have a problem with a non-parishioner teaching a class (I wouldn't want a "large minority" of non-parishioners teaching, for the sake of the parish's image!). Parishes bring in outside speakers and teachers all the time. Myself, I was ready to have a friend of mine from St. Paul come out to take the 7/8 grade class this year, but at the last minute by God's grace a stellar young couple from the parish stepped up and asked for it. If you're interested in beginning to teach the kids, I would actually recommend that you begin in a good parish program - even if that is not your local parish. Your first year especially, you will need to learn more about handling the classes and "logistics" of the endeavour - to not have to worry about the material used or the support of the parish staff is a huge relief. When you've gotten your feet wet, of course, if you want to go back to the home parish to be a "light in the darkness", go for it.

By the way, anyone want to teach 3rd grade for me this year? :)

I'm also looking for adult speakers to speak at our monthly parent sessions...

And I'm also trying to get going a new adult formation series on Sunday mornings...

As you can see, lots to do!! Plenty of space left in the vineyards! :)

June 21, 2007 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mgibson ~ Depending on the topic, I might be willing to go there and speak some morning, but I'd need more info first - if something isn't my area, I won't step up!

Cathy, all I can do is ask our director if it's kosher, and we are looking at some other speakers.

Basically, we're changing the curriculum on the request of the USCCB that we use the Catechism they published last year. It breaks everythign down, we'll combine some lessons, and there are questions in the books to help the RICA group be more engaged in actually LEARNING the material and what the faith is about.

I have this book at home, but if you teach they may just give you one. I'll bring it with me on Monday...just remind me.

~ Adoro

June 21, 2007 2:42 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Totally agree. I wish I could teach in my church's RCIA program but I don't think they allow laity. It is, of course,taught by a leftist nun. My mom was an RCIA sponsor for one year but said she wouldn't do it again because of this nun.
I try to be as involved as possible (parish council, spiritual life committee, the choir) and make positive changes. I figure if the left can make a stand and try to change things then the best thing to do is counteract it! I'm also thinking about teaching CCD/PSR so that the kids are actually LEARNING something. I used to be an aide and the things I saw being taught (or not taught) were just appalling.

June 21, 2007 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be teaching RCIA again this year.

June 21, 2007 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Harvey said...

Good post, but I just can't help wondering, education, what's it good for? It never did me any good.

Great post however. (Didn't mean to interrupt the chain here.)

June 21, 2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

As some of you know, I am probably going to leave my current parish for one in St Paul.

One of the reasons that I have not stepped up at the current parish is that I feared I would run into conflicts with the no doubt progressive curriculum. I expect that not to be the case at a different parish with a new orthodox pastor who will probably be looking for orthodox teachers.

June 21, 2007 4:24 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh my gosh - hit the wrong button and my message was gone. Here goes again.
Yes, yes, yes Cathy. Step up and help! My husband and I are both RCIA teachers. At almost 62 years old I also am the main religous ed teacher for the 7th - 12th graders proving I am totally insane. Even though I have NO children it was not hard to see that most of todays parents know NOTHING about their faith. Parishes need all the help they can get from good Catholics. It is not necessary to "know everything". We teach what we want to learn:)

June 21, 2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh, and I forgot Cathy - drop the word irregardless. Just plain old regardless will do just fine:)
Happy to see you not only frequent Mancini's but Buca's. Another favorite of ours. Might even induce me to visit my family in St. Paul just to get a great steak and some super Italian food!!!!!!

June 21, 2007 4:43 PM  
Anonymous L said...

Yes! Wonderful post and comments. I will teach faith formation again someday- my excuse is #7, right now busy with my own four kids, keeping them instructed and on the right path. Our parish puts the parents in charge mainly of First Reconciliation and Holy Communion prep, then again for two years of Confirmation preparation taught in small and large groups. I taught 4th grade religious ed in WA state, and at that time, had no children...I loved it! You will all enjoy this and thanks for stepping up to the plate. Our parishes need you!
God bless,

June 21, 2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

As Cathy knows, I've really enjoyed teaching adults, but I do think that some people are more suited, or rather, called to certain age groups.

I just feel very called to speak to adults. While I used to work with kids and teach them, right now, I just don't think I could handle it. But RCIA seems to be a perfect niche for me.

Cathy, I know a lot of parishes need teachers for children, but we also all need good teachers for RCIA.

To everyone interested ~ DO go out and teach, learn, be a sponsor...do something. As a sponsor, even if the teaching is bad, you have the ability to affect that one person, maybe others, through faithful teaching and gentle correction. On the flip side, I did have a conversation with someone once, and then her sponsor "got to her" and I think with a brand of Cafeteria Catholicism. You know what I mean. *sigh*. We need good sponsors, even if you don't want to be up front teaching...then teach one to one!

Go to where you are called. There is a place for you all.

June 21, 2007 6:29 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

Every class at our parish is taught by a religious, but we DO end up sponsoring a lot of people.

June 21, 2007 7:08 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Good comments here!

Angela: I'm glad you are teaching again next year!

adrienne: Where did I use: irregardless? I can't find it.

June 21, 2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if we don't teach a formal class we must educate ourselves because you never know when a teaching opportunity will present itself.

June 21, 2007 11:30 PM  

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