Meeting parents reluctant to change
To Be Honest: A primary teacher writes:I teach in a Catholic primary school and efforts are going on to reform the way the school, the students and the parents engage with the sacraments of Communion and Confirmation.
In essence, the parish is trying to get parents more involved, so all the work does not fall to the school.
As a practising Catholic I am very much in favour of this move, which I understand is happening across the country. I have always believed that parents of children at Catholic schools are not given enough responsibility when it comes to religious education.
The idea is that parents would be called on to engage at a deeper level with the local church, to take a more active role in sacrament preparation sessions and to get more involved in arrangements for the day itself.
By that I do not mean hiring bouncy castles or getting dresses made; I mean engaging with the religious aspect of the ceremony in a meaningful way.
However, the parish is meeting some resistance from parents at the school. They say that if they have to work with other parents and the parish, instead of the school handling everything, the sacraments will be more difficult to organise and will not run as smoothly.
They want it to stay as it always was: a nice sunny Saturday in May, a chance to dress up and have all the relatives around for a party. Anything else is just hassle.
The parish is making concerted efforts to step up here. The school is on board and has been really impressive. The parents need to stop looking at this as an inconvenience and start looking at the bigger picture.
The Department of Education is planning to move some schools outside the management of the church. It is important that parents who truly value a Catholic education demonstrate that their attachment to Catholic schooling means more than just a day out.
There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when school communities will have to show that they belong within the management structures of the church and not outside it.
Here is an opportunity, and one that is being offered to more and more parents across the country, to make a decision and commit to religious education before the decision is taken out of their hands.
As I walked through the schoolyard I overheard a cluster of parents giving out about the planned changes. “Next thing they’ll be telling us they can’t wear white dresses,” one woman remarked angrily.
I believe too many parents have long since missed the point of the sacraments altogether.
When the day comes to argue for their school to remain under church management, what exactly are these fair-weather Catholics going to say?
This column is designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously.
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