One of the best discussions we had at the Being, Knowing, and Doing seminar in Seattle, WA, last week and Rockville Centre, NY, this week centered around the questions of “who taught you to pray? and what are your earliest memories of prayer?” These are good questions to spark a discussion with catechists to get them thinking about how they pray as an adult (so that they in turn are more conscious of how they can teach others to pray).
Anyway, in each case, there were a handful of people who explained that they never learned how to pray from their parents because they didn’t practice their faith. Instead, they learned from going to religious education (C.C.D. back in the day) and from their catechists. Now these are people who today are directors of religious education with advanced degrees in theology and/or pastoral ministry. We emphasized how we need to remind our catechists that, as frustrating as it is to know that many parents are not participating in their own children’s faith formation, they (the catechists) can still have a profound impact on the lives of those they teach. In fact, in many cases, they may be the ONLY person who prays with them or talks about God with them.
My own mother came from a situation like that. Religion was not practiced in her home and her parents neglected to even have her baptized. It was through the intervention of a neighbor who took my mother under her wing and eventually convinced her parents to allow her to be baptized that my mother entered the Church at the age of 14! Today, at age 83, she is a daily mass attendee, a sacristan, Eucharistic minister, lector, and occasionally altar server! She’s also the mother of a bishop (and the other 8 of us kids didn’t turn out too shabby either!)
Bottom line: never underestimate the influence that one individual can have on the life of another person!