I feel for Father James Tiegs, the Omaha priest who sent his parish’s middle school back to class after the usual adolescent liturgical hijinx: not singing:
Tiegs (said) he “made a judgment call that there was enough disrespect and irreverence going on to dismiss the students … as a teaching moment.”
Parents, naturally are split on the issue:
If he thought that was necessary, my hat’s off for his courage.
(My daughter) was confused. She was scared. There was never any closure.
Kicking kids out of Mass (which I can’t quite believe is covered by archdiocesan policy) isn’t behavior modification that’s going to be successful. Some kids would be glad to be out of Mass. Other parishioners don’t need the disruption of marching dozens of twelve-year-olds out the door.
As for ways to get young people involved, well that’s tough. They need ownership of the liturgy, especially planning. I never had a problem getting adolescents involved, because I trusted their judgment within the bounds I set. I encouraged clergy to meet with older kids to plan the homily. The more their peers are involved with songleading and such, the more they are willing to support the liturgy. No young teen or pre-teen wants to be hanging out in the open with no visible means of support.
Getting kids of any age engaged in liturgy: it’s not going to be automatic. If we think it is, we’re too hooked up in the hermeneutic of entitlement.