Catholic catechesis is lousy because it’s based on the widely adopted liberal educational “model”

Sermon-Mount-Jesus-Christ

Other denominations, I’ve observed, do a better job of offering meaningful adult faith formation, and it’s well attended. Yes, there is Sunday school for children, but that’s not considered the central formational focus of the community. There are logistical differences beyond the confessional ones here, of course. Episcopalians and Lutherans and Presbyterians rarely offer 6 back-to-back services on a Sunday morning, and don’t have the same need for childhood sacramental preparation as Catholics do. Many Protestant churches schedule formation opportunities for all ages on Wednesday evenings.

That’s part of the reason the adult formation classes and workshops we do offer are so poorly attended—adult catechesis just not a part of our regular expectation and structure. And adding it to an already overscheduled parish calendar doesn’t seem to be much of a solution.

So here’s my totally immodest proposal, audaciously presented on the virtual eve of the grand ComicCon of Catholic religious education, L.A.’s RECongress: Snap out of it. Let’s just stop catechizing children.

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Catholic schools have become inexpensive private schools for middle class people who have little or no interest in the Catholic faith.

We may have a few parish schools still plugging along, but are they Catholic? It seems that all we have left to us is the threadbare cousin. All our resources and energies go to maintaining the private school in the building next to the church. While the world is starving for Christ, we are giving them bingo and bratwurst, raffles and dinner dances, all to keep the school going.

“But,” I can hear you say, “this is our major form of evangelism!” Aren’t you paying attention? The few kids from our schools who go to church don’t go because the school has converted them. They go because they have parents dedicated enough to bring them every Sunday, even in summer. Even in soccer season. Those kids may end up Catholic, not because they went to our schools and religious education programs, but because their parents were the first and best of teachers.

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