WelCom April 2017
Diocesan News and Views
I have often heard how frustrating teachers in our Catholic schools find it to be expected to nurture Catholic faith in children when such faith, the call to be disciples of Jesus Christ, is largely absent from the child’s home life. Despite what many parents may hope, if faith is not something parents practice and talk about with their families in their everyday life, then the chances are low that a child will come to perceive that faith as significant and foundational for them. Our schools and our varied youth ministries are generally very effective in playing a supporting role to a solid Catholic home life but we are seriously mistaken if we believe they can be left to do the job alone.
Which only begs the question as to what we can do to better equip our parents for this critical role? We do need to be clear we are not talking about some theological qualification – although these certainly have their place! What parents need is confidence about what they believe. Confidence to willingly engage their children of any age in the ‘faith talk’ appropriate to their young lives.
Confidence to be able to speak of what really matters to them, what they love about their faith but also what they struggle with. Confidence to pray informally, knowing a ‘conversational prayer’ with a familiar God is what kids need to be witnessing and doing. Traditional Catholic prayers do have their value especially as markers of identity but far more important is a sense of personal relationship with a God who loves us. Parents need to be across these things first so that they can model them with their children.
“Traditional Catholic prayers do have their value … but far more important is a sense of personal relationship with a God who loves us.”
This is the vision that underpins the work of Cardinal John Dew’s new Family and Young Church Vicariate. Most of the ministries we have supported over the years continue from youth ministry to marriage preparation to family ministry. But our emphasis is increasingly on the need to be assisting our parents. Everything we do in our parishes, our schools, and in the Archdiocese to build up faith is, in the end, in support of what happens in the home. Ponder what this might mean in your area of ministry and as we head toward our Archdiocesan Synod in September, let’s keep our eyes and ears open for how the Spirit is guiding us to more explicitly address this need.
Chris Duthie-Jung is Leader, Family and Young Church Vicariate, Archdiocese of Wellington.