Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we celebrate “Catechetical Sunday.” That marks the beginning of our CCD/Religious Education classes. I believe that it is important for us this weekend to understand the importance of religious education for both children and adults.
The religious education to children is something that first starts with the parents, Godparents, relatives, and friends, as part of this effort to teach the children in the ways of the Lord. As they learn their ABC's and their numbers, it is very important at a young age that they start learning about their faith. As they start exploring the world, I see that many of them also start asking questions about God. Whether they are at Church or at home, the children are very much interested to understand what and why they do things. One of my youngest recollection of religiosity, I remember as a little kid seeing a dead bird in my yard. My mom came over and spoke to me about God and creation. As we “buried” the little bird, I remember vividly repeating the words of the Our Father after my mother. Something so small that could have been brushed aside, my mom took that opportunity to teach me about God. This is important for all the parents, Godparents, relatives and friends. If we desire our littlest ones to become successful and righteous, we need to start teaching them about God. I’m always amused when parents ask me when it would be appropriate to start teaching religion to their children. The answer is always the same, which is, “yesterday!”. Our program of Religious Education comes to reinforce what parents should already have taught their children. One could even say that we help deepen their understanding of their faith in God and also help them to prepare to receive their sacraments. Therefore, all the children who are first graders and up should be enrolled in the program, unless they are enrolled in a Catholic School. Then they could be exempt due to their religious instruction they receive at that Catholic School. However, that does not exclude them from choosing to do both, as some of our students do. So whether your children, Godchildren, grandchildren, nephews/nieces, relatives and friends are in elementary, middle, or high school, they should all be taught about God. But how can we be prepared to learn about faith by ourselves? This leads me to the second point.
In our seminary formation, we do 6 years of solid graduate classes of philosophy and theology. Then, as ordained, we continue to educate ourselves by programs, talks, videos etc…imagine that I have 9 years as a priest, plus all the formation that I received during the seminary. One could say that I would not need to deepen my understanding/knowledge of God and the Church. Truth to be told, every month I try to learn more about a specific part of our faith. There are times that I learn how to deliver/explain the topics to someone else. One common example was the videos of Fr. Mike Schmitz speaking about same sex attraction or why we should not get tattoos. Other times it helps me to get closer to God. We attempted to start a program last year to provide faith formation for adults, but it never happened. This year we are committed to offering something that helps our faith to grow and our understating of God to deepen. Stay tuned for more details in the future!
Lastly, I would like to share with you a couple of events coming up in our Parish, besides the 24Hr Adoration this weekend (Sunday 6pm – Monday 6pm). On October 8th, the Spanish community will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary at the 1pm mass. The following Sunday, the Brazilians will be celebrating Our Lady of Aparecida at the 9am mass. Feel free to join these festivities with our brothers and sisters from the parish.
Father Steven Clemence