Sunday, May 22, 2016

It's Simple: If Parents Want Kids to Be Catholics, THEY Need to be Catholics!

Marc Cardonarella boils it down to its essence: kids are disengaged and leave the Church after Confirmation because many parents are doing it wrong. Expecting the local parish religious education program to turn their kids into lifelong Catholics in one hour a week (or a Catholic school to do it when the parents don't practice the faith at home) is futile.

In his new book,  Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making it Stick, Cardonarella, a parent and religious educator who himself was missing from the Church between Confirmation and late young adulthood, lays it on the line for parents:  "Your actions are an education for your children. How you live your life will significantly influence who and what  they become. So, if you want them to be religious, you need to be religious yourself."  This is the heart of what we need to say to parents.

Cardonarella doesn't stop with saying it. He leads the reader through a process of self-evaluation of relationship with God, prayer life, liturgical life - and more - and lays out a plan for parents to learn and grow in the faith.

His analysis of how typical catechesis is failing to engage young people, based on the wisdom of Cardinal Newman, hits at the heart of how that, too, needs to change. In Chapter 3, he notes:
Teaching that come solely from a textbook creates a merely notional assent, passive involvement, and a distanced and indifferent religion. Thus, students' lives are never touched by the real and personal. They remain unchanged by their religion because the religion they experience is bland, weak and unspectacular....Human persons are moved to action not by intellectual abstractions, but by personal influence and powerful example, as well as by engaging their imagines with the concrete realities of life. When we interact with others personally, we open ourselves to deep encounter and change. Without that engagement and interaction, Catholicism is just a bunch of words and listless actions. To some, it will be logical, reasonable, even interesting, but will remain just one theory among many. Faith itself becomes notional - abstract and distant - rather than real.
 So, beyond laying out a path for parents, he challenges religious educators to reconsider how they are delivering the faith.  Recently he presented a webinar on just that topic:

Keep Your Kids Catholic is a real page-turner, filled with stories, personal witness and a concrete plan for change. It is must-read for parents, but also for religious educators.  Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy at no charge in exchange for an honest review.