Thursday, November 5, 2009

Catechesis on the Mass when kids don't go to Mass..

I am an occasional substitute catechist at my parish - and last night I found myself facing 20 or so Hispanic American teens in their second year of Confirmation preparation for a lesson on the Eucharist. I knew I was in for it, when, while setting up the opening prayer, to the Saints, I asked how many of them had been to Mass last weekend and experienced the celebration of All Saints Day - and only 2 of them had done that.

How irrelevant is it to talk to youth about Eucharist as the source of all that we are and the most important thing we do at church, when they don't go? It's hard to refer to words said at Mass when they don't hear them, or to describe actions they never see. Yes, these are kids who can't drive themselves to Mass yet - and the issue is with their parents...

I know in this case that they come from working class families who mostly struggle - some with multiple jobs or parents working two shifts... and these parents make the commitment of time and money to send them to religious education.  Obviously they want their children to have the sacraments. But, how to reach the parents? How do you catechize them in an occasional "mandatory" parent meeting? I'm not the DRE, so I don't know what she has in mind, but I am guessing she has been trying. It's a challenging cultural reality.

Last night I did my best to reach them. I hope I planted a seed or two.


  1. Joyce,

    You did the best you can do and you point out excatly the issue: catechizing parents. For whatever reason, catechists (and teachers) have a tendecy to focus on the kids and avoid confrontation with the parents (and I am guilty of this too). My experience with "mandatory" parent meetings is that unless you have a quality program to present to them, they are likely to be upset or at the least not motivated to attend. On the other hand if it is optional, then busy schedules make it easy to avoid. My suggestion: emails, phonecalls, updates, newsletters and whatever it takes to get parents to engage with their children on the topics that are being discussed in catechesis.

    Thanks for your work in this blog - I love liturgical catechesis.

  2. You are welcome, Jared. At our parish, because of the economic and cultural issues in an immigrant community, there are a few differences. Most of these parents do not yet function by email - some do not even own computers. Most will usually show up for the meetings but they just smile and nod in agreement, but do what they normally do when they go home. I think we need to do some real engagement - but we are still working out how this works best. Our DRE is pretty bi-cultural, but there are still issues.

  3. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity. I am guessing your parish holds a lot of community events to build relationships in addition to those meetings? People like to go to Mass to be with people they enjoy.