Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 22, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
It takes the whole community to raise a child"They want to know where they can fit in. But I find when they leave Grade 6 and enter junior high, it is sort of the end, for a long time. Maybe it's the peer pressure."
- Father Clem Gauthier,WCR Nov. 8
If Father Clem Gauthier is correct in his observations, then the question should be asked. Why? Could it be we are only scratching the surface of the problem? Lots of Catholic schools are performing yeoman service in our schools and many succeed, but many feel they are merely spinning their wheels.
Fifty years ago, the ideal was probably workable. Schools, homes and parishes were in some form of sync and understanding. Most families in Catholic schools attended Mass regularly, the Church cooperated to a great extent and schools did not have the problems we have today.
Our Catholic Christian message is still that a partnership exists between home, school and parish. This is the ideal, but is it reality?
Maybe ask individual practising teachers if that is how they see it. Or the parishes that look at many services devoid of young people as Father Clem pointed out. Today's modern home is a combination of perhaps some parent attending regularly or intermittently and, if it is a two-adult family, perhaps the other does not attend at all. Some include families who do attend regularly.
Each part of this triumvirate needs help and in some cases resuscitation. We also need to admit it. We need to look at modern Catholic school culture and analyse the components. What percentage of Catholics are in the school? Are there Catholics on school registrations that do not appear on parish rolls?
What percentage attends liturgies in the parish? What issues or stumbling blocks do students have that stunt their spiritual growth?
Why not ask them?
In many Catholic schools especially in rural smaller areas, Catholics, non-practising Catholics, non-Catholics, practising Christians and "don't give a darn students and families" come together in this collage. We need to understand this and decide what to do about it.
The answer is not to close ranks and say, "all is well." Parents in the schools need to be reminded about their commitment and to answer why they placed their children in Catholic schools in the first place. Parishes have to ask themselves whether we are making the liturgies relevant to young people. Are they getting spiritually turned on?
Schools and teachers have to look outside the religion class and ask whether they are really permeating their classrooms and the school with Christ-like modelling behaviour and turning on and challenging young people.
Catholic schools have the greatest opportunity to do something to help young students along their spiritual journeys. In order to do so, our students must be continually fed with the possibility of the living water. They need to be listened to and talked with in non-dogmatic ways.
We need to open up a bigger world for them out there, a world that is much greater than the secular world. If we truly believe that it is a triad of cooperation that is needed, then we need to ask what are we going to do about it now before it becomes too late.
We all need to reaffirm that we are created in God's image and that God gives each of us sufficient gifts to make our world a better place and to make a difference to people. Students must be affirmed that they are unique and special and known personally by him.
Never again will their talents and gifts, with the personal imprint of God, appear in anyone else. We all need to know that we are valued and loved, especially our young students.
Imagine being a teacher or a parent or a member of the clergy and getting to heaven and being asked - did you use the gifts I gave to you? Did you serve me? Did you even know me?
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Our perspective should be that it takes the whole Catholic Christian community to raise a child. We have to believe this and do something practical about it.
Father Clem is starting on that road.
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