Two to three years ago we heard the words, "New Evangelization", except for those who heard it at first mention by St. John Paul II. For many of us though, including myself as I am a re-vert, we just heard it. The Catholic Church has suddenly been tasked with a mission: New Evangelization...all over the world.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is part of the playing field and since becoming a director of religious education, I have heard everything from "CCD is a failed program" to "let us celebrate St. Pius X on his feast day and be grateful for the program he implemented in the Catholic Church: CCD."
Two years ago my team and I took up the challenge of figuring out what works best in a CCD program for meeting one of the great needs in the New Evangelization: catechizing that age group of 35 to 65, the "lost generations" of good catechesis. A parent catechetical program was implemented that not only works but is producing immediate fruit "found in the confessionals".
What is this parent catechetical program?
But why mandate adult faith formation and call it "parent catechesis"? Our separated brothers and sisters do not do it, they merely evangelize and invite, and they are bringing people in by the droves! Mandating coerces the will. Even Sherry tells us to provide overlapping opportunities where people can meet Jesus, allowing multiple opportunities for conversion at each person's individual pace. "Provide" does not mean "mandate"!
I hear you.
I started providing opportunities of adult faith formation where people can meet Jesus and convert at their own pace. I used Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicism DVD series. I had our priests give talks in the Adoration Chapel. I gave talks in the Adoration Chapel. I used Benediction. I made artsy, promotional flyers and promoted series of adult faith events varying speakers, topics, places, structure... but nothing has worked like this parent catechetical program.
Why does a mandatory, parent catechetical program work so well?
A large portion of those who need to be evangelized in the New Evangelization are the people in these lost generations of good catechesis. Why? Because when they were children and went to CCD in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the Church at the time was not teaching the faith in full.
From "we had to teach that way because when I was in CCD the nuns would actually hit me with a ruler" to "we were taught by hippies; it is hard to remember anything but banners and graham crackers," it seems that everyone has an opinion or side. Whichever opinion you have or side you are on does not matter as much as what you are doing today for the generations of people who were in CCD in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It was the Church who taught them what they know, or do not know. It is the responsibility of the Church today, you and me, to teach them what we should have taught them when they were children. In order to teach them, however, we first need to understand where they are coming from.
Here is their perspective:
By year's end, however, they will be overjoyed because they "gained so much from it" and will "wish the year was not over" (direct quotes from parents who went through our program).
Matthew Kelly's latest speaker series explains the need for "game-changers" and asks the question, "why is every parish left to its own devices to figure out every aspect of Catholic ministry? Does that not stretch the staff person's job duties at each parish too thin?" He suggests we figure out what works and then share it. We are a large Catholic Church and if we want to make a change for the good in the New Evangelization, collaboration is key.
I ask you to share this post until every MRE, DRE, CRE, CCD catechist, and parish volunteer in the country reads it. I want to help them implement "what works" for meeting the need of catechizing the lost generations who missed good catechesis.
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.