Religious Education, Safety and Ministry for Children
Published: September 24, 2017
Dearest Parishioners and Friends,
This weekend our Parish School of Religion kicks off the catechetical year with a special session for parents and children at 11:00 am (between our 10 am and 12 noon Masses, for convenience’ sake!). And the Church throughout the USA celebrates her annual “Catechetical Sunday” in this month as well, so that everyone and not just parents can share in supporting the religious education of our young people.
We have 26 children in grades 1 through 11 enrolled in our “home based” PSR program this year! What we do is help our parents whose children are in public schools to “home school” their children in their Catholic faith, and we also quite willingly partner with other Catholic Church Parishes so that our parishioners’ children have access to convenient and quality religious formation.
While the size of our childrens’ religious education program pales in comparison to the thousands that some other parishes boast in their PSR and Catholic school programs, I know, it’s still the most we’ve had here at the Cathedral in as long as anyone can remember! We see more and more young families at church and registering in the Parish, and that’s a good thing!
While on the subject of children and young people: it’s important to note that our regional Catholic School is Sacred Heart of Jesus School, just 16 blocks east on Main Street.
This also reminds me to put in another plug for both parents and children to make use of our Sunday Nursery, during our 10 am Mass. Children from ages 6 months to 6 years are very welcome there, allowing their parents and the rest of our worshipping community a more quiet and reflective atmosphere in church. I especially want to thank the volunteer ladies who have made our Nursery a safe and fun place for our little ones during services.
Yes, your children’s safety is paramount for us. Last month our Parish went through the annual “Child Protection” review required by the diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection. Again, we demonstrated that all of our employees and all volunteers whose church-work would have them supervise young people have been trained in preventing child abuse, and indeed have passed various required background checks. It is a tragic fact of history and humanity that in the past some in our Catholic churches and schools – just as in public schools, other religions, scouting groups, and far too many families – forgot basic moral standards and undervalued the innocence of children. It is imperative that this never happen again, and our vigilance and efforts are ongoing in this regard.
This being so, remember, that if you notice or suspect child abuse of any sort (sexual, violence, neglect, etc.), report this immediately! Reporting is made to the Department of Children and Family Services (www.dss.state.la.us or toll-free 1-855-4LA-KIDS) or in an emergency situation to law enforcement officers. That’s what we do!
Lastly, regarding children and church, may I offer two thoughts? First, I strongly recommend that families sit together close to the front of church. School age children are more easily caught up in the “action” of the liturgy when they can see what’s going on! Second, it’s also possible for boys and girls to assist as altar servers and readers at Mass. If they’re old enough to be responsible, prayerful and competent in their ministry (generally around 5th grade or so), we’d love to have them! This youthful “stewardship of ministry” by them is yet another way for the next generation of Catholics to learn the value of a life of involvement in the Church.
Sincerely in the Lord,