Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 12, 2003
WCR Letters to the Editor
Examine our faith education
"Are there some things we should be doing for adult education in the faith?" Archbishop Thomas Collins (WCR, April 21).
In response to the article "Collins seeks study of adult education," I would like to add that I am pleased the archbishop is taking the stand he speaks of in the article. I for one feel that a total re-assessment is needed in the faith if we are to continue stronger and more faith filled on our journeys.
First, I would like to propose a question. Do we operate our parishes under some shaky assumption that our parishioners and young people in the main really understand our Catholic faith, its tenets and historical perspective?
People over 60 might very well remember the "good old days " but I suspect that Vatican II, in all likelihood, has produced lost generations of people confused and uninformed about the awakening Catholic Church.
I suspect that in the '70s and '80s parents were beginning to no longer understand what was going on and certainly were having difficulty explaining the faith to their children. These children are now parents and I suspect belong to a silent majority where they are not sure any more and in a lot of cases have stopped attending services.
I also suspect that there are many parents who would love some updates on exactly who we are, what are our beliefs and where we are going. The great throngs and multitudes, the unwashed, the ordinary folk who struggle each week to make ends meet are not about to attend classes at Newman, St. Joseph's, Scripturefest or tour the Holy Land. But their needs are still there nevertheless.
If we accept the premise that there is a good portion of parishioners who are hungering for knowledge and wisdom of our faith but for whatever reasons remain silent not fully understanding then these are "the people who are being missed" as Archbishop Collins asks.
Similarly are we operating our Catholic Schools on similar shaky assumptions?
Archbishop Pittau recently was quoted as saying that "a pupil is a treasure given to us by the Lord. Teachers must claim each student as a treasure. We need to provide formation, not information. The greatest treasure we have in Catholic education is the student entrusted in our care. Unless we take care of the treasure we will lose it."
This I agree with wholeheartedly but the proof has to be in the pudding and begs the following questions. How many of our Catholic teachers practise the faith or are regular receivers of the sacraments? How many of our Catholic teachers have very little basics in Catholic education yet teach religion classes?
How many of our Catholic teachers who belong to the lost generations after Vatican II do not understand the Catholic faith enough to explain or discuss it in the classroom so leave it to the parents in the home?
At this critical time in Catholic education, and I bleed for Catholic education, we must not look to the comfort zones of catch phrases such as "our catholic faith permeates our schools." This is an ideal and in a great many cases not yet a reality.
If, for instance, we have high percentages of teachers, parents and students who do not understand the Catholic faith or are regular non-participants in our liturgies, how exactly does this permeation occur?
How do we transmit our Catholic faith serving from an empty bowl?
Wouldn't it be better if our Catholic schools, whether stand-alone or on shared sites, could be permeated with practising Catholics?
As a former Catholic educator and a teacher of RCIA for the past 13 years I have had both teachers and parents say that they wish information of our faith was somehow available to all, whether it be from the pulpit in mini-sermons, parish and school newsletters , meeting in small communities, or local television stations.
I applaud Archbishop Collins for asking the questions. The answers will have to be well thought out.
Rocky Mountain House
Thanks bishop for the manners reminder
Kudos to Bishop Fred Henry for his article in the April 28 WCR titled "Keep a civil tongue in your head". I too have noticed a trend towards unkindness and general negativity both in the community and more sadly in the parish. I am sorry to say that I have sometimes been a contributor to this negative energy "in what I have done and in what I have failed to do."
There's a lesson in the SARS epidemic: It is easier to prevent the spread of something virulent than it is to stop it once it's gotten a foothold. And negativity is virulent. It's a downward spiral that has death at its end, death of relationships, death of communities, death of parishes, death of Christian mission.
It is one thing to identify problems and look for solutions, quite another to attack personally those we disagree with. It is scandalous to spread that negativity to those around us through gossip. It is virulent, death-dealing.
Jesus calls us to something completely different: deliberate love, the setting aside of self for the good of the whole, forgiving 70 times seven. We should look for ways to build each other up, not tear each other down. We have all been on the receiving end of an unkind remark or "well-meant" criticism. The pain can last for years.
Jesus has given us a radical solution: love your enemies; do good to those who hurt you. Pray for those you disagree with. Seek wisdom and guidance. This way is life-giving.
I personally have clipped Bishop Henry's article and will review it periodically as a self-check. Am I respecting myself? Am I respecting others? Am I putting community and responsibility ahead of self? Am I grateful? What for? Is there someone I should thank? Am I building up, or tearing down? Am I supporting the mission of the church?
Am I keeping a civil tongue in my head? Good question, Bishop Henry. Thanks for giving me something to ponder.
Discover your own faith ritual
I read Rose-Marie McCarthy's letter about routine Mass services in the April 21 WCR with interest.
Born and brought up in a small town, we were the only Catholic family. My mother was very religious and kept the priest on a pedestal, and threatened us with "the devil will come to get you tonight" whenever we misbehaved.
My memories of Mass in those early days before Vatican II was kneeling next to my mother as the rosary beads rippled through our fingers at breakneck speed (trying to say all the 15 mysteries).
Somewhere up there in front with his back to us was the godlike priest doing all kinds of weird and wonderful things which climaxed with us receiving Communion in the mouth from this figurehead since he was the only one holy enough to touch the host.
Several years later in Grande Prairie I was called to help in the music ministry. In my travels I have been involved as an organist in a number of parishes over the last 50 years; the past 10 years at St. Agnes in Edmonton playing at Saturday 5 p.m. Masses.
I thoroughly enjoy this involvement. It is the highlight of my evening and takes priority over any other activities from 4 to 6:30 p.m. The music I play has to be liturgically correct and reflect the readings and Gospel as well as whatever particular feast day it may be.
As a rule we sing two or three well-known hymns, but I always find it a joy to learn new ones that apply to the liturgy and expands the ways we can celebrate.
Some people prefer to pray in silence, but perhaps being a musician I feel more emotionally involved in the so-called ritual routine and rhythm of the Mass when it is accompanied by music.
Over the past 50 years I have experienced the extremes available in our Catholic service, from those given by priests who don't like music during the Mass to those who feel the gathering is meant to be a celebration by all there.
I've been part of Masses which are only that: and simple and short. I have also been part of those services where family and friends gather in the community of their fellow worshippers to carry out and proclaim those symbolic events such as Baptism as an active part of their commitment.
I realize for some, the simple act of prayer and contemplation is enough. I also have seen the joy and commitment of those who want the opportunity to share their expressions of faith with others like them.
Do I appreciate those who wish the quiet worship? Yes. Do I love to be part of a happy, outpouring of faith in as many ways as possible?
There must be room for all of us - somewhere, even if we must look around and change where and how we worship. Finding where our comfort might be is the journey through our Catholic faith.
Telling it like it is
I wish to respond to the letter to the editor by K. Chmilar in the April 21 WCR.
If the writer were from our region he/she would know of the events that led to the comments that were made by our resident priest.
At that Mass our priest informed this community of the minimum amount of donations required each week in order to sustain itself financially. He was only trying to draw parishioners' attention to it so they could respond to the information. I understand that ever since that Mass contributions have more than doubled from previous weeks.
Our priest indicated that the level of giving could not support the present pastoral approach of the region. If revenues did not increase, he said he would have no choice but to revisit the regional strategy that presently places the priest's residence 64 km away from the administration office where he works. He went on to explain that the costs associated with the current commute are high and relocating would only be done in order to reduce the cost of mileage.
He did not state "they would receive the Good Word once per month" as misquoted by K. Chmilar. He said weekly Sunday Mass would continue, but that weekday Masses could not.
"Is there not a budget?" Chmilar asks. Of course there is a budget that is drafted annually. In fact, at our last PPC meeting we went over the budget. The people on the PPC from this particular community had some suggestions on how to cut costs.
You want to talk about "embarrassment"? They suggested that someone in one of our larger communities should be found to donate our priest a car so they wouldn't have to worry about his high mileage costs.
Also, it was said, his food costs are too much; maybe he could change his eating habits. Since he is rarely home long enough, where and how shall he eat? They also said we should start cutting programs (like RCIA or sacramental preparation). What are we about as Church? It sounds as though these people have lost sight of this issue.
Region of the Most Holy Trinity
Violence doesn't mesh with pro-life
I have just seen an advertisement in the April 21 WCR that surprises me. I am referring to the Catholic Men's Breakfast Ad on page 7 that features a Jason Kenney as the speaker. Is he not the same person who defied our holy father's opposition to the war in Iraq by blasting our country's leaders for not joining in the war?
How can such a man speak to a Catholic audience and more particularly with his support of war and its inherent violence? Further, the ad is misleading when it says that he is not afraid to stand for life issues. Is that meant to be a joke?
It is this type of confused talk and hypocrisy that confuses our young people. The pope whom our young people love and listen to most attentively being spurned by double-talking politicians and then being given a platform at presumably a credible Catholic meeting is very offensive and hurtful to our mission.
I hope the organizers will reconsider their choice of speaker in the interest of truth, integrity and loyalty to our Church. All Catholics and especially our next generation deserve nothing less.