December 11, 2007

Sunday School

There's an interesting interview with Amy Welborn in the December issue of Catholic World Report

Mrs. Welborn says:

"Getting back to adult ed for a minute, it's a real problem in the Catholic Church. I think it's a crucial problem that we have to deal with. In Protestant churches, there is a tradition of adult Sunday school. I have Protestant relatives who hardly ever went to church service but they always went to Sunday school. We don't have that tradition, we don't have that expectation. We associate religious education with schools. So once you get through eighth grade, or once you graduate from high school, or once you get confirmed, that's it. We don't communicate to people that they have a responsibility to continue to be formed in their faith. Talk to any religous ed person who works with kids. They will say "We don't need the kids once a week for an hour; we need the parents once a week for an hour."

I think things are better now then they used to be in that there is more emphasis on apologetics. BUT, I think you have to look for it. I think Ms. Welborn is right, we are not getting people where "they live" at the Church. If people are there already, why NOT have an hour before or after Mass for adult learning? Children could have a seperate hour. I know it may give Father more work then he can handle but if there are qualified lay people? I know it's a touchy thing because when I say QUALIFIED laypeople, I mean Magisterium Catholics in good standing. I could probably put the same qualifier on some priests and nuns too.

If you don't keep the brain cells stimulated they start dying off. You have to keep the faith learning active too. There is SO much to learn. We have such a rich faith. It scares me when I think that I will never know all of it before I die. But, I feel compelled to try. Unfortunately, sometimes I feel like one of the few who care.

If they have an hour of teaching before or after Mass, of course, not everyone will go. It would probably help if they had the "social hour" with donuts and coffee at the same time. Maybe it would not have to be every week? I know some parishes have occasional adult learning evenings. But, most parishes have nothing for adult learning.

Thoughts?

21 Comments:

Anonymous Adoro said...

We offer it at my parish on a regular basis, although not every week. But people don't go. There's an alternative on Wednesday nights (as in when the kids are in class, then there's something for adults). But they don't come. And the ones that do are not the ones who need it the most.

At the parish where I work there is adult formation, but again...they don't go.

Some of it has to do with the fact that families are overbooked...it's dance, and hockey, and other sports. It's lukewarm people who simply DON'T CARE to learn about God. Sure, they'll go to Mass every week, but that's just because it's something they've always done and they are supposed to do...but they're sitting there lukewarm, enjoying their compartmentalized lives, going along with the programming as long as they can remain outside of it.

"Yeah, the kids need formation....but * yawn * we can't be bothered to teach them anything ourselves."

I actually met a parent who admitted that hockey is more important than God. And she's proud of her position.

It IS the parents who need the formation; the souls of their children depend on it. But just try getting them to show up...let me tell you, it's the adults that are in need of conversion. The kids love Jesus; the adults just like his pictures, as long as they aren't too gorey with all that suffering stuff.

* sigh *

December 11, 2007 10:38 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I agree, it's disheartening.

December 12, 2007 5:53 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Yes, if we had it, I'd go! I'm not sure how many would attend, but why not put it out there and see? Also, how about occasional brief instruction from the priest/pastor at the homily once in a while- where it fits in appropriately.
Good, thoughtful post.
Lisa

December 12, 2007 6:48 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

We are working on having it--I chair the Adult Ed committee at my church, and I would love to have good Bible studies, classes, etc. The problem is we have a nun who is pretty opposed to lay people leading any of these classes. And she's NOT a magesterium Catholic by any means. So while our parishioners have told me, and other committee members, time and time again that they want these classes, they can't be offered because sister doesn't have time and if a lay person suggests teaching, that's just not kosher. So it's very difficult to get anything actually accomplished--but we're working on it.
And here it's not hockey--it's OSU football!

December 12, 2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger Rita said...

Problem is, trendy Father is going to want to call it "Bible Study" or "Faith Sharing" and you will instantly put off any remaining males in the congregation.

Perhaps two Sundays a month and built round Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Plenty of silence and devotional reading. Stop Father being too didactic and thinking everyone has the same hang-ups as him about prayer, traditional devotions and the shocking education he had at the hands of the Sisters of Frequent Strapping and Daily Torment.

Just a thought.

p.s. Love your blog.

December 12, 2007 11:27 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I second everything adoro said.

December 12, 2007 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Adoro said...

We also have Family Adoration and such...but it's not the lukewarm who attend. It's the people who already love Jesus. But at least this is a venue for them that reinforces their faith!

December 12, 2007 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Terry B. said...

There are at least three good programs in the twin cities, Argument of the month club, Jeff Cavins Bible study series, theology on tap.

December 12, 2007 6:10 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Catherine,
I believe – professionally speaking - Amy goes by either “Ms.” or “Miss” Welborn. Otherwise she may be addressed as Mrs. Dubruiel, which is her husband’s surname. (Unless of course, she declined to adopt his name for herself when they were married.)

This is simply a wonderful post.

December 12, 2007 6:51 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

I'm going to chime on in here with an observation--very few of us go to "adult faith formation" classes, because they are by and large worthless.

The last parish I belonged to had an active "adult faith formation" group, that used materials published by "bible churches" exclusivly, saying that people could look stuff up in the catechism if they wanted.

And, as observed above, It gets called "bible study" or "faith sharing".

The solution is, of course, for faithful Catholics to get the Pontifical Catechal Diploma from Catholic Distance University. (That's the only source in the US) This program is overseen by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy and very sound. Yoiu then have a credential that is recognized by the Vatican, and in theory, by the Whole Church.

That sould more or less shut SR. Dissenter up--to say you're unqualified means that she has to take on a dicastery that says you most emphatically are.

The draw back is expense--the USCCB gives zero financial support to this program, and I don't know of any diocesan support either. So you have to pay your tuition yourself and it's not cheap, bacaus it's real university course work, from a real university.

As soon as I get Cash... .

December 12, 2007 8:14 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

rita: Well, there goes my plan to have knitting with it..it will scare off all the men folk :-)

terry b: AOTM is male only. The others you mentioned are good. All of them are (is this a word?) extraparishional (meaning you have to go outside of the regular time you may be at church for Mass)

Terry N: You know, I thought about that when I wrote "Mrs". Oh, well...

IR: When you get cash, let me know, I'll start asking for money! LOL!

Seriously, interesting comments, everyone.

December 12, 2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Excellent post. I think everyone hit the nail on the head: people don't care; people won't come; the "curriculum" is sometimes lackluster and/or expensive; some who run it have non-Magisterial agendas.

But, having said that, it *is* very necessary. People (like my 19 yo ds) are going elsewhere when they don't learn about God in The Church.

December 13, 2007 7:04 AM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

When I joined St. A's back in the 80s, surprisingly they didn't have any Adult Ed. Hubby (fiance at the time) wanted to convert, so Monsignor sent us to Nativity. A nice older lady taught RCIA there, but it was far less than stellar and hubby ended up being catechised by a priet at the Carmelite Monastery. Later, Father A did start RCIA/Adult Ed at St. A's and I took the class just to learn more about my faith. Now that there is just one priest at St. A's with so many responsibilities, the job for RCIA is being taken up by one of the deacons. I haven't heard how he is as a teacher, but suspect you'd learn a lot from him.

I think with the priest shortages today, there is little time for most parish priests to tackle an RCIA program themselves. Many parishes don't have a deacon to pick up the slack so it falls to a lay person or isn't done at all.

Adult education seems like an insidious problem. If the Church is to grow and stay healthy, it needs to educate its flock at the parish level.

December 13, 2007 7:53 AM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

I'm with Ignorant Redneck on this one - the VAST majority of adult faith formation is very superficial and light. I went to one at my parish and left early. It was so childish and superficial as to make our Holy Religion a joke.

December 13, 2007 1:26 PM  
Blogger The recovering procrastinator said...

I wish the long comment I left yesterday was showing up here. But even if you didn't think it was worth approving, I want you to know this post inspired me to find out what options are available at my parish. And for that I thank you.

December 13, 2007 7:10 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

recovering procrastinator (great handle btw!): I do not have comment moderation enabled so any comment will and should post. I don't know what might have happened yesterday. Please, post again if you are so inclined.

December 13, 2007 7:40 PM  
Blogger The recovering procrastinator said...

Oops. I'm a little embarassed for getting snippy. Sorry about that.

I wish I could have remembered everything I said originally! Aah, technology.

In a nutshell: I found out that our parish has a program for kids 3-6th grade and their parents on Sundays or Tuesdays. But you have to register for the whole school year so we'll have to wait til next year to do it.

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks and really enjoy it, despite being less of a traditionalist than you and most of your readers.

December 13, 2007 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lack of adult education was the biggest disappointment when I came into the Church. Occasionally, my parish will have some sort of adult education, but it is almost always during a weekday in the morning when only the retirees can attend. Of course, after seeing how RCIA was taught, I might be a bit skeptical of adult education.

December 14, 2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

People don't go to the adult ed programs because they are mostly worthless, silly and so gooey that no normal male would be caught at one. Perhaps if we get something besides pap more people will darken the meeting room door.

December 15, 2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger JustMe said...

Well, first of all.. let me say, from a long-parenting point of view, that parents are stretched too thin and are too exhausted these days to sit and listen, even with coffee and doughnuts or whatever, to anything too insubstantial, yes. Those without kids may not realize the extent of the burdens I'm speaking of-- Work, sandwich generation, and so much extracurricular so as to keep kids out of the streets and offline, along with their scholastics, etc.

One priest here,however, used to offer/facilitate adult religious ed series, which were real series' -- they went on, both small and then large group discussion -- for months, meeting one eve per week for 2 hrs. We all (women AND men) looked forward to it. 60 of us! One year was 12 Steps in the Bible, another was 12 Steps of Spirituality.. one series was based on the movie "A.D." which was based on Acts; one (the first) was "Jesus of Nazareth."

We also have an upcoming-Sunday-readings prep on Tues. nights with commentary from many Catholic sources, and discussion. It's really fun and informative, and trust me, I'm hard to please.

Perhaps you all are from the big city as opposed to our "city" of 27,000, so maybe we've been blessed. We do have the parent thing offered while the kids are in relig. ed. I don't know how many parents go, but I know some must do so regularly, as this is one of many years they've been offering it.

As for the age old argument that it's never the ones who NEED to go.. well, God's aware of that. The ones who don't really need it will get the Word to them.

I dunno. Hang in there. Never give up. And the key is: Start groups yourselves. The laity will have to do this; we were just told that in a few years, we won't just have the likely two priests for our now-clustering nearly 3000 families.. we will be down to ONE. Uh, unless folks really start asking the Lord for vocations.

December 16, 2007 12:52 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

justme: EVERYONE is over scheduled these days. I agree, we all need to pray for vocations. At my parish, we pray for vocations every Sunday at all the Masses.

But, I think that, in many ways, we have made ourselves overscheduled. We all need to step back and start saying no to things-esp. stuff that conflicts with developing and maintaining our relationship with God (ie sporting events for the kids on Sundays among other things)

December 16, 2007 3:44 PM  

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