I came across some nice thoughts about parents of children in religious education from Lisa Mladinich. She relates how many catechists lament the fact the some parents take little interest in their children’s faith formation. She then goes on to offer some positive advice for honoring them instead of critizing them and provides some practical ideas for catchists to reach out to parents. Good article.
I do have a small bone to pick with regards to one generality in her article however where she says that, “After Vatican II, a lot of well-meaning experimentation resulted in religious education being dumbed-down and sugar-coated for the masses.” While this happened in some cases, in many other cases, it resulted in exciting new ways of making the Catholic faith more relevant to a generation that was being bombarded by the cultural revolution of the 60s. Don’t forget that, at the time, we still weren’t allowed to see the following on TV: Rob and Laura Petrie (Dick Van Dyke Show) in the same bed; Elvis shown below the waist; The Doors singing “girl we couldn’t get much higher“; and the Rolling Stones singing “Let’s spend the night together.” The radical shifts taking place in culture and society were (and still are) unparalleled.
As a child of the 60s, I remember the incredible turbulence of the times as well as some of that catechetical experimentation that came along with it. And yes, some of the catechesis was awful. However, some of the catechesis I received BEFORE the experimentation was equally as bad. As a result of catechetical experimentation, however, I recall being inspired for the first time in my life, by various teachers, both religious and lay, to involve not only the head, but also the heart, in my faith formation. Indeed, in some ways, the pendulum swung to an extreme (touchy-feely catechesis) but only after it had been stuck on the other extreme for far too long (rote memorization). Today, we know that it is important to involve BOTH the head and the heart in faith formation.
So, I think it’s time we stopped making negative generalizations about the catechetical ministers of the 60s and 70s who sought to proclaim the Gospel to a world that was being turned radically upside down and inside out and who often did so with very little guidance and direction from the Church’s hierarchy. Sure we’ve lost some Catholics because of catechetical experimentation that was ill-informed. However, without the bold experimentation of many catechetical pioneers following the Second Vatican Council, who knows how many folks might have been lost to Catholicism because of stagnant and irrelevant catechesis?
Which brings us back to Lisa’s main point. These folks (parents) are here in our midst so let’s honor them by evangelizing them!