September 9, 2011


Becoming a people of faith—again

Remember it?

Though we have been inundated in recent days by media outlets commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America, we don’t need the news stories, and graphic photographs and videos to recapture the chilling memories of a day that millions will never forget. Many families still relive that fateful event every day.

Ten years later, we need to remember the words that our then Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II, spoke during a general audience on the day after this international tragedy of historic proportions left nearly 3,000 people dead and a world reeling in disbelief.

“Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. … How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people.

“But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth. At this time, our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”

Faith. It aided millions of people who crowded churches to be with their brothers and sisters in Christ in the days, weeks and even months after this unspeakable act.

It united us.

What has happened since then? Many people of various religious traditions, Catholics included, no longer seem to make their lives of faith a priority.

Is it only at moments when we feel powerless that we turn to our Creator?

Let us pray that this year’s special 9/11 commemoration brings more people home to their church.

This time to stay.

—Mike Krokos

Educating children in the faith

We strongly encourage you to take the time to read our annual Religious Education Supplement in this issue.

A great deal of attention is given to our Catholic schools, and it should be because they are so important. But the fact is that many of our children are not enrolled in those schools. We don’t have the statistics for this year, but last year 22,380 students were enrolled in 58 Catholic elementary schools and 12 Catholic high schools in the archdiocese.

But somehow the Church must reach those children who are not in our schools. Last year, 15,427 of them participated in religious education programs from preschool through 12th grade.

It is absolutely vital for the future of our Church in central and southern Indiana that we educate those children in the faith. It’s a daunting job because of all the obstacles the catechists face to try to get the attention of those children.

Most of those catechists are volunteers in our parishes. The parishes could not accomplish what they are doing without them. It’s hard work and time consuming—preparing lesson plans before classes and then teaching the classes every week.

What about those obstacles we referred to? Undoubtedly, the most difficult to overcome is the fact that religious formation must be done in a relatively short time compared with the amount of time the students hear contrasting values from our secular society.

We see from time to time various studies that tell us that children and youth spend a tremendous amount of time watching television and texting one another. We all know the values those situation comedies are inculcating. They are seldom what the Church is teaching.

Many parents do their best to keep such programs away from their children, but that’s a difficult task at best. How is the Church supposed to compete?

Texting has become an epidemic. Perhaps most of it is innocent enough, but we frequently read about some of the situations that can occur.

Another obstacle is the fact that many of the children in religious education classes have no wish to be there. There are a hundred places they would rather be. That’s a challenge for every catechist.

Still another obstacle is the apathy of too many parents. Many of the parents of the children in our classes are victims of a period in our history when the Church did not do a good job of catechizing. They don’t know what they should about their religion.

The worst cases are those parents who drop their children off for religious education classes, but don’t go to Mass with them. How is the Church supposed to compete with parents who don’t provide a good example?

We have an idea that those who are reading this editorial are not that type of parent. But perhaps you are a potential catechist. We urge you to talk with your parish’s director of religious education about that possibility.

—John F. Fink

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