In private discussions of my post about the role of parents in catechesis, a number of variations on, “But parents like catechists!” came up. I couldn’t agree more. I’m a parent, and I actively seek out opportunities to put my children into the hands of other faithful Catholic adults.
The answer to supporting parents in their role as primary educators of their children isn’t first kill all the catechists. Absolutely not.
Rather, it’s a question of priorities and focus. Are we telling parents, “You really can’t be trusted to guide your children, you’re incapable of learning how to do this and how to make good decisions, and in fact you’ll always be a wannabe-disciple so don’t worry your pretty little head, leave it to the professionals?” That’s a problem.
But if we say, “You’re the parent. You have serious responsibilities. We’re here to help you figure out how to carry out those responsibilities. You can be just as much of a disciple as any catechist on our roster, and by the grace of God you can make good decisions for your children,” then we’ve got a different ball game . . . even if mostly parents really like having the option of farming their kids out to religious ed classes an hour a week so they can run and grab a cup of coffee in peace.
When you make it your goal to train up the parents in the way they should go, that hour a week is radically different, because it becomes a bridge between the domestic church and the wider church.
Or, to use a different analogy, since the family is the foundation of society: If we give up on the foundation and just decide to make a really bomber first floor, our house is going to crumble. The first floor doesn’t hold unless the foundation is firm.
Inside Tip: A quick look at my publications page provides secret insight into where I stand on the importance of religious education programs in parish life.