A little religious education

A little religious education

Here are two examples of good parish religious education.

Last night at my parish, we had our Da Vinci Code discussion night. It was a good turnout for my parish, about 20 people. We watched the DVD provided by Ascension Press featuring a talk by Dr. Ted Sri and afterward I answered questions. Obviously, because of the sheer magnitude of errors, a one-hour video can’t answer them all, so I answered any extras people had. One thing that came up was that people said they need to learn the history of the Church, so we’re probably going to start a Church history class. If we phrase it as a kind of DVC discussion group, that might draw additional interest.

This morning, we had rehearsal for our First Communion tomorrow. We have a small class, so it wasn’t difficult. Once nice thing is that my pastor, Fr. Murphy, told them that since today is First Saturday, we would take a few minutes at the end to go in and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I thought it particularly appropriate and my guess is that probably none of the parents, nevermind the kids, had been in adoration.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Of the 20, how many admitted to reading it themselves, or did they say they were curious because they had heard so much about it?  Did any come up with those special questions you were prepared to answer?

  • I didn’t ask how many had read it themselves. I didn’t think it all that important since the fact that they were was a good indicator. Some obviously had and even liked it as a book, but recognized the problems for those who don’t know their faith.

    My pastor had a good point for those who insist that they liked the story apart from the anti-Christian content. He pointed out that no matter how good the story, it’s still an attack on the Church, our Mother. I don’t care how good the work of “art” is, if it attacks my mother, I’m not going to be happy with it.

    It goes to show how blase we’ve become in our culture about that which attacks our faith.

  • I am probably off track as this is mainly about the DaVinci Code, but regarding the First Holy Communion part of your article, it sounds like I would have preferred to be there rather than where I was today in an affluent suburb of Boston.  The music was modern drivel, the altar of sacrifice was the “table” that the kids brought items up for to “set the table, as you do for a celebration.”  Thank God the correct names were explained as each child brought up their item.  After the Prayers of the Faithful the children were invited to come up to the “table” and as the congregation knelt at the appropriate times, the children all remained standing.  During Holy Communion people more then a few people were speaking with each other as they waited to go up to Holy Communion, as if they were in a big function room, obviously oblivious to the majesty of the moment.  As I received Holy Communion the priest never said, “The Body of Christ.”  And, of course, the children were apparently taught to receive in the hand and not given the option to receive on the tongue (I am not saying one should be done at the exclusion of the other, but that both should be taught.)  I won’t even get into the “homily.”  Next week I we will be at our granddaugher’s First Holy Communion just north of Boston.  I am fearful it will be the same.  But then again, I hope and trust in the Lord!

  • Let me give you two good examples from my Hispanic, mostly immigrant parish:

    35 Hispanics came into the church as full members of the Church this last Easter and had participated in a very orthodox RCIA process; we were the largest parish group from the entire archdiocese

    150 children, of all ages, made their first holy communion.

    70 made their confirmation

    6 had their marriages blessed by the church

    4 are entering the priesthood and 3 are entering the religious life

    Now, this was a parish where just over three years ago was scheduled to close because the elderly English speaking community either died or moved elsewhere. Now with all of our services in both English and Spanish, the Gospel is being preached, peoples’ hearts are being changed and they are learning the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church.

    More so, about 50 to 70 parishioners gather every Friday and visit peoples’ homes with an image of “Christ of the Miracles” and pray the rosary and sings songs. Our Eucharistic Adoration has more than 50 people attending every Friday night. We have three different prayer groups, Cursillo and many more other activities.

    And we are even beginning to introduce a little Gregorian Chant to our Spanish liturgies.

    Now, that is a parish to belong to.

  • DJP, tell us the name of the parish (please)!  Or are you afraid if you say, the “Spirit of Vatican II” will find it?


  • DJP: Actually, my parish has a very large Spanish-speaking community too, which came to our parish when their previous one closed and I have to say they’ve been awesome for our parish life. They have a ton of sacraments, the people are highly dedicated to the Church and enthusiastic, and our shared bilingual liturgies are a highpoint for me.

    The English-speaking part of our parish is aging and there are few young families, but all the new life is on the Spanish side.

  • I get a rush of optimism when I consider the influx of immigrants and especially the Latino and Filipino contingents.  We need to parlay it all into a Roman Catholic tidal wave.  I know the Hmong people have really taken to Roman Catholicism and they tend to live in the same neighborhoods as the Latinos.

    Visiting each others house to pray the rosary goes on all over the place in the Philippines and my mother in law does it.

    I think every parish needs to consider having a Mass in Spanish … well attended or not.  These people understand Catholic life: fiests, devotion to the Virgin Mary, family centered living.

    Many of these immigrants are disgusted with American social values … America as a Roman Catholic country would make it a more welcoming place for them and we’d all benefit.

  • At Holy Trinity (a German Personal Parish) in Boston’s South End, we are also finding increased numbers of Latinos attending the Traditional Latin Mass. This list also includes increased numbers of Brazilians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Chinese, Haitians, Italians, French, Irish…and yes, couple of young German families.

    Can you figure what’s going on? I’m of the opinion that Latin worship underscores the universality of the Church, where the vernacular most often divides down cultural lines. For all the talk we hear regarding inclusivity and multi-culturalism I believe the phenomenon at Holy Trinity has and continues to reflect the Church Universal quite literally. I am VERY encouraged.

    On a typical Sunday, there is a line of at least 35 people waiting to receive the Sacrament of Penance from two priests. The current elderly priests assigned recently had to cut this off at the beginning of Mass, they were so overwhelmed. Unfortunately, now we are limited to 15 minute prior to Mass. We’re hoping to make this an hour. So far the only response we have got is go to your territorial Parish. “Excuse me?”…I think there is a failure to understand HT is their parish.

    What’s the Archdiocese’s solution? Close the parish and scatter this flock. I would love to see the Sacrament of Penance included in the Sacramental Index as an indicator of Sacramental practice in Parish life, not currently considered.

    As a matter of fact, I think it would be great to get Cardinal O’Malley at HT one Sunday to hear Confessions. It’s right in his backyard and as far as I know has never darkened our door. For all the breast beating of a general disuse of the Sacrament among Catholics and a corresponding lack of understanding of how it is an integral preparation for the Eucharist, I think this would be an instructive example for his Eminence at a time we are literally engaged in battle with a hostile culture both spiritually and temporally.

  • Can I ask why you thought none of the parents or kids had been to adoration before? You may have good reason, but it wasn’t clear from your post.

    Because none of them seemed familiar with what to do and because some of the parents came up to me afterward to thank me for the opportunity to do something they hadn’t done before.

    Recognizing the fact that it is new to them is not the same as having low expectations that become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The first step to teaching a lesson is accurately assessing what the student already does or does not know.