This is a guest post by Connie Cleemput the Director of Religious Education.
Where do you stand on abortion, on underage drinking, on the death penalty? Where do you stand on taking time to pray as a family, on having a meal together or attending church on Sundays as a family? Where we stand, so stands our children. They mirror what we say and do as their parents, as their role models, as they people they look up to.
When practicing songs and prayers for Mass (after three weeks of practice) I mentioned to the First and Second graders to ask their moms and dads to take them to Mass on Sunday mornings or Saturday afternoon. I said “Your parents will say yes, just ask them.” I can not tell you how disheartened I was when a second grader told me that he had asked his parents and they said no.
Where do we stand? How can you, as parents, help your children be the best Catholic they can be? How can you help them form their consciences so they can make good, moral decisions?
As parents we have a moral obligation and a Catholic obligation to help form and support our children into whom God calls them to be. Yes, God calls all of us to take a stand. God has placed these children in our care, knowing and trusting we will do our best to raise them in our Catholic faith.
Take a stand. Take them to church, pray as a family around the dinner table at least once a day, tell them about God. Look in the mirror and you will see a reflection of your child. Listen to your voice and you will hear your child. Do you like what you see and hear? Take a stand.
I often hear that our youth is the church of tomorrow. I never understood why the youth aren’t the church of today. Why do they have to wait? If our faith is somehow tied to the childlike there needs to be room for the children today. All of us need to celebrate with a childlike faith and vitality.
It has been my pleasure and honor to work with young people throughout my 25 years of priesthood. Youth retreats, school Masses, vacation bible schools, living rosaries and stations of the cross for youth have all been ways in which faith has come alive for the different parishes I have been in. It is not only the youth who are renewed in faith. Many times God speaks through these young people to enliven the faith of a parish.
Here, in Kalida, and hopefully at St. John the Baptist we have already begun the youth movement of faith. It is exciting for me to hear children volunteer for Stations of the Cross, to record vast numbers of first time servers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers from Jr. high and high school and to have kids coming over to the rectory for Friday Night Frenzies and ping pong.
As a parish, we need to continue to grow our kids in their faith. We need to be open to childlike ways that may include different styles of music and worship forms. Several of our youth have inquired about a mission trip to Africa. I love it.
My favorite story about the children of today comes from Children’s Hospital in Columbus. For the Sunday Mass the children who were patients always got the opportunity to preach if they wanted. One girl preached 3 weeks in a row until she was released from the hospital. A five year old said that she would like to recite the 23rd psalm that she learned in Bible School. She did it perfectly and the adults heard a new way of hearing that the Lord was the shepherd of a five year old girl. It was lovely.
Let us pray and encourage our young people to embrace our Catholic faith. I challenge the young people to praise God with your band instruments and your voices. If our parish can help you grow in childlike faith, let me know. Please share your favorite stories about children worshipping in the comments.