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monica_margaret

Bad catechesis in religious ed

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monica_margaret

Hi all! Bit a vent/ask-for-advice type post. I've been a teacher's aide in my parish's religious education program for several years now. I absolutely love it, and the community that comes with it! But recently, I've been noticing how watered down and even flat-out bad the catechesis is. Usually leans toward the "watered down" end but still. This is often the only source of faith formation these kids get, and it's only once a week, so it's important for it to be solid!

Two of my biggest gripes would be, first of all, this one teacher I aided for a couple years ago. He was teaching the kids (3rd graders) about the Sacraments. And he told them that the Eucharist is merely a symbol of Jesus' body and blood. Hearing that was like a knife to my heart. And another teacher I was helping (just a few days ago, and also 3rd grade) was answering a kid when she asked what a vocation is. Good question, and excellent opportunity to explain something the kids may not hear of otherwise! She said it's simply a "choice" we make in life, nothing about it being God's will for our lives. I guess technically it is a choice, whether or not you respond to God's call and prompting, but still. The example she gave was that she's a teacher and mother; first of all I would disagree that being a teacher is a vocation at all. In a secular sense it is, but I don't think in the sense of God's calling for your life it would be. It's more like an "apostolate", in my opinion. I don't know. 

I probably should have spoken up both times, but I wasn't sure what to say, I was too shocked (especially with the first one; and that's when it would have been most important to do so!). Thing is, as an aide, I don't get a whole lot of opportunity to put in my two cents anyway. I just feel like, I love helping with religious ed. I love the idea that I may just have a chance of planting the seed of faith in these kids' lives, because I know how important it is. And of course I know I can simply lead by example, too, that even if I don't get to do much teaching I can show them what faith is. But still...it's just been weighing on me lately and I've been a little concerned about how it's going. I don't know if I should talk to the DRE about my concerns, or perhaps just talk to the teacher I aide for. Part of me has even considered quitting, but right now that feels too drastic; something I would have to give serious thought to before taking action.

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BarbaraTherese

There are members on Pham here more aware and educated than I am - I hope they will respond.  My thoughts only are as follows:

Congratulations for choosing the role as a teacher's aid in your parish.  I am sorry to read you have had the experiences you have - and experiences that now weigh rather heavily on you.

It is not going to be easy, nor is there any understanding available of outcome or final result, but I would have a quiet word with the teacher. 

A next step where your situation is concerned will depend on the result or outcome and you might need to speak to the DRE.  In fact, the DRE should be aware of failings in religious instruction of children.  It is his or her responsibility under the pp.  You also bear a responsibility as an aid.  I think it could be presented to the DRE as a general type of confusion on your part, rather than making an accusation about the teacher you are helping.  

3 hours ago, monica_margaret said:

I've been noticing how watered down and even flat-out bad the catechesis is. Usually leans toward the "watered down" end

You could present the above to the DRE as your confusion about the program.

It is of vital and central, primary, importance that children understand the essence of The Eucharist - that on which our Faith depends.  To state that The Eucharist is symbol only is in fact heresy and denies the Real Presence.  Vocation is indeed a choice, but it is The Holy Spirit (or God to little children I would think) that a person even considers a certain vocational path.  How one would present that to third graders, I have no idea at all.  -

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monica_margaret

Yeah -- it's hard to know what will happen, and it's hard when it weighs on me. I'll definitely have a word with the teacher I aide for. We don't see each other a whole lot outside of the religious ed classes, but I'm sure I can make time before/after. I suppose I'm not entirely sure how I'd explain vocation to the kids; I'd probably say something like that it's God's will for your life and we need to be careful in choosing it. So that didn't bother me quite as much, it's just because of my own personal discernment it meant a lot to me. It was also just the most recent instance I could think of.

But yeah, if all else fails after having a little talk with the religious ed teacher I'll definitely bring my concerns to the DRE. I'm even thinking I will tell the DRE about the one teacher and his heretical remark about the Eucharist. I feel really bad for not saying anything in the past. Perhaps this is a lesson to be learned on my end. He doesn't teach regularly; he's just a sub, now, but still. As you said...

21 hours ago, BarbaraTherese said:

It is of vital and central, primary, importance that children understand the essence of The Eucharist - that on which our Faith depends. 

And clearly, they won't understand it if he tells them it's just a symbol. That really upset me when I heard him say that, and it's even more a regret now that in my shock I said nothing. But yeah, I will definitely address this soon. It's just so frustrating because my faith is the center of my life, and to see it "trivialized" through weak catechesis hurts my heart. :cry4:

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BarbaraTherese

 

45 minutes ago, monica_margaret said:

. I feel really bad for not saying anything in the past. Perhaps this is a lesson to be learned on my end

Please do not kick yourself too much.  We are all fallible and more prone to mistakes than we realise I think.  The lesson I have learnt from failings of omission is that the guilt I feel after strikes me as far more cruel than if I had not omitted in the first place.  Especially, but not only, when we are in a new role, it is tremendously difficult to contradict one's superior in any way whatsoever.

 

45 minutes ago, monica_margaret said:

It's just so frustrating because my faith is the center of my life, and to see it "trivialized" through weak catechesis hurts my heart.

Could you have a confidential word with your pp about problems that could come up from the role you have embraced?  The formation of children is very important indeed.  You could even have a quiet word with him about your experience in the past related to The Eucharist.  If you would not feel comfortable with your own pp, perhaps you could seek out another priest for advice and religious order priests are often a good resource.

It is very important for your own spiritual welfare that you strive to preserve Peace in your own soul.` Vitally important too that you feel comfortable with correcting any problems in the future for your own sake and that of the children.

Prayer for your intentions.

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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BarbaraTherese

Edit:  It has just occurred to me to ask if your pp discerns in some way that volunteers are suitable for the role of catechesis of children?  To teach children that The Eucharist is symbol only is a grave error.  The catechist who taught that error is apparently still in a catechetical role, if not on a regular basis.

I really do think that your pp needs to be aware of what is happening at times and your very real disturbance over it.

I am hoping some other member will come in on this as it is really right outside of my sphere of experience in all ways.

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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monica_margaret

No, our pp doesn't choose the catechists -- just the DRE takes care of that, and she'll also refer us to whatever necessary training we need to be a catechist (as an aide I didn't need any, but the teachers need a certification). It's really unfortunate, and...recently I noticed that the teacher who taught that the Eucharist is a symbol is now an EM -- and our priest does choose the EMs. Yikes. I sure hope the teacher's had a change of heart, otherwise he's got absolutely no business being up on that altar. :sad:

It's definitely quite a dismal situation -- but I'll do what I can to make it better. :) I'll do my best to do what I can, bring my concerns up to the right people, and to not be too hard on myself either. Thank you so much for your prayers! I (and my parish in general it seems!) need them. 

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BarbaraTherese

St Mary of The Cross MacKillop, our first Aussie saint, had wonderful and holy advice "Do what you can and leave the rest to God".  

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