September 27, 2018
The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:
The last two weeks I have shared the contents of the BCHS Parent Village presentation, Keeping Faith Alive at Home. Today I’ll wrap up with strategies #5-7.
Strategy #5: Participate in the life of your parish
Participating in the ministries and activities of your parish sends a great message to your kids – engaging in your faith community is important. Parishes are always looking for lectors, hospitality ministers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, choir members, cantors, and more. When you do this, it is also much easier to encourage your children to participate as altar servers or other roles at Mass.
Read your parish bulletin. If your parish is anything like my parish, there is so much going on! You can’t do it all, but you can choose some activities in which you and your family could participate. Parish picnics, speakers on different topics, scripture studies, decorating committee, etc.
Encourage your child to engage in the youth group at your parish. Consider helping that group thrive in any way you can – it is the future of the Church!
Strategy #6: “Take it to the streets!”
Serve! Look for opportunities to serve others – as an individual, but more importantly, as a family. There are so many organizations in need of help. We have a long list posted on our website: https://www.bishopchatard.org/ministry/needs/
Service does not always need to be for an agency. Find people in your neighborhood that need help – elderly neighbors that may need grass cut or other outdoor work done. The mother with three young children may need help with childcare, picking up groceries, or a meal prepared for their family. The man on crutches that could use help getting his mail from the mailbox each day. People in need are all around us and helping in your own neighborhood is a great way to build community and “evangelize.”
Strategy #7: Ensure that Sunday Mass is a non-negotiable!
Every member of your family needs to go to Mass each Sunday (or Saturday evening)! This needs to be a no-excuses, non-negotiable expectation in your home.
Become engaged in the liturgy. Read the readings ahead of time as a family. Talk about what the readings mean to you. Then listen to them again at Mass and hear the thoughts of the priest or deacon. What did you hear that was new?
Come to Mass a few minutes early for some quiet time and stay until the recessional hymn has ended.
Have you ever discussed the parts of the Mass? Do your younger children (or even older) know what is going on? Understand why we do what we do at Mass? If you have never participated in a “teaching Mass” or “slow-motion” Mass, take advantage of the opportunity if it comes along. Even Cradle Catholics are surprised by what they don’t know about the celebration of the Mass.
As for the “no excuses” part of attending Mass? Even on vacation, go to Mass! There are churches everywhere you go! Do your research and find the nearest church before you leave home.
Don’t fall into the “we were out really late last night, so we’re not going to Mass this week” trap. Your kids are watching. They will prioritize what YOU prioritize. Look ahead on your calendar. If you are going to be out late, can you go to Mass Saturday evening? What about Sunday evening?
Finally – athletics. I hear about travel team all the time: “They have games scheduled all weekend. There is no opportunity to go to Mass!” Look at the schedule ahead of time. Figure out when you can make it to Mass. IF that athletic schedule really is so packed that No Mass times fit in — you need to alert that coach. That coach needs to know that you’ll need to miss a game or a portion of that tournament so that your family can go to Mass. You should not be a part of any league that would not allow for that.
I hope you have found these strategies helpful. We are in a fight when it comes to keeping the faith alive in the hearts and minds of our children. We need to be all in!