A Classy Act

classroom deskJerry Galipeau blogged on unfortunate RCIA signage here. Perhaps the parish around the corner is really doing good work instead of classes (or just classes), and the “class” thing is just to nab people who might otherwise assume we Catholics can teach a seeker everything in blackboard-n-desk mode.

In a way, a parish has to be all things to all people. A colleague of mine was once criticized for running her catechumenate as a year-long personal sharing workshop. I was only called on to do liturgy practice, so I don’t know if facts were truly overrun by the emotional life. Another friend, a baptized Christian, was hoping for more “content.” I asked if he ever attended any of the one-off lectures we did, or joined a Bible study or topic group. I’m not sure he knew all of those options were open, and if he wanted to borrow books from me or get hooked into what other parishes were offering just to ask. But he didn’t seem to want that.

In my new parish, a person assumed I was the new youth minister. I gently corrected, then listened to a brief homily on LifeTeen, how good it was and how much the parish needs it. One, I’m not the youth minister, so I’m not positioned to lobby for or against it in a community I still don’t know very well.

My own experience with discipleship and formation of college-age young adults would incline me to absolutely blow up a traditional religious education model. If classes don’t seem to have lasting effect, why bother with them at all? Mentors, sponsors, role models, peers instead of catechists.

Perhaps this is why this year’s calling led me away from disciple-making and mentoring and back into music ministry. Who knows?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to A Classy Act

  1. Melody says:

    “If classes don’t seem to have lasting effect, why bother with them at all? Mentors, sponsors, role models, peers instead of catechists.” Mostly I’m with you, and am inclined “… to blow up a traditional religious education model.” However, one or two caveats. One hears of people who were caught up in the enthusiasm of first conversion, but when that wore off, were dismayed to find that their mentors had smoothed off the rough edges and hard truths. And now they found a rude awakening, and their initial “on fire” moment was not enough to carry them through. Personally, I am inclined to think that people sometimes hear what they want to hear, and that their teachers and mentors actually did bring these things up (I mean, seriously, does anyone who isn’t deaf and illiterate not know, for instance, that the Church frowns on contraception and premarital sex?). But for whatever reason, when they encounter the difficult things, they don’t have the resources to persevere. So maybe there is actually a place for some formal instruction, if only for informed consent. And I do think that there is not enough support for new converts after the Easter Vigil in most places, to “walk the walk” with them.

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