CCD or Religious Education

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I was just wondering? I have had problems with the CCD or Religious Educations programs in our area of Texas, and didn’t know if this was typical throughout. However, our programs do not teach about the Catholic Faith anymore. We teach how God loves us, and how we should love our neighbor ect. (which are not bad things). However, our kids today can not even begin to defend our faith, they don’t know it. And then we wonder why they don’t feel that the Mass is sacred. I have not had my kids in the CCD program in years for this reason. I was wondering if anyone attends a parish that has a good progam that teaches our faith (maybe I believe in the Old Baltimore Catechisim). I have seen a copy of it and wonder what was wrong with it.
 
Interestingly enough, I’ve encountered the same problem. And I feel bad because the Director of the program (actually, the various Directors over time) have been really good people and have the vision and desire to help fuel the fire of faith in our youth. When we opted against RE they really made the effort to hook us up with the home-schooling text/workbooks and they always ask how things are going.

My kids went through it up to 4th grade and honestly, after the first year, they did not hesitate explaining to us why they didn’t appreciate it. It had to do with the repetitiveness of the material covered. It seems each year’s book pretty much covered the same stuff as the year before, but with a different set of exercises and a few extra pieces of information. It seemed to be based on the ‘layering effect’ of learning (if there’s such a thing)…but in my mind it’s where you teach the foundation over and over and over again adding a feature or two along the way until you reach the whole gamut of information disseminated. This way, by the third or fourth year, the foundation is ingrained/memorized thus allowing the student to focus on storing the new information as it’s introduced.

Well, my kids found the approach childish and almost a ‘talking down’ to them about religion so I stopped making them go. Instead we take advantage as a family to attend whatever lecture series our parish offers over the year. Our parish is really good about offering learning opportunities for parishioners and my kids appreciate the content of the messages. I guess they didn’t care for the coloring books, crafts, plays and children’s songs in teh approach.

My kids are 14 and 16 now. My eldest will be enrolled in RE this year because it’s required toward confirmation. I’m hoping the High School approach will be better - I know the curriculum looks more solid - so it will depend on the teacher and the other students in the class, I suppose.

I wish I had time available to volunteer to sit on a committee for our parish or to even teach a class so I can get the view from the other side, but I just don’t have it. I do participate in three other ministries for the parish and volunteer for one-time deals as often as I can.
 
I can’t say I’ve every had a “problem” with our CCD classes but I wondered if the kids were getting enough. I still send the kids to CCD classes but have started supplementing their learning with the Faith and Life Series. It’s for grades 1 - 8 and then the Didache series for high schoolers. You should be able to google on either and find a place to order.
 
I think many parishes have this problem. In ours, it’s pretty obvious what causes it: the requirements for teaching religious education do not exists. If you’re a member of the parish, you can volunteer and be handed a room full of children who know nothing about the faith. Needless to say, by the end of the year most classes still know nothing about the faith. The people who teach our classes mean well, but with most of them not knowing or caring about Church teaching, they can’t communicate very well what it is to be Catholic.
 
Dr. Colossus:
I think many parishes have this problem. In ours, it’s pretty obvious what causes it: the requirements for teaching religious education do not exists. If you’re a member of the parish, you can volunteer and be handed a room full of children who know nothing about the faith. Needless to say, by the end of the year most classes still know nothing about the faith. The people who teach our classes mean well, but with most of them not knowing or caring about Church teaching, they can’t communicate very well what it is to be Catholic.
This is exactly what I find to be quite true. However, I have volunteered on several occassions, and the material I am given to teach is not geared toward the dynamics of our faith, only in the love your neighbor/friend/family/God vein. Not anything about how we celebrate Mass, or what is happening during it. Why do we bless ourselves when we enter the Sanctuary, or at other times. Why and when do we genuflect. This is not even taught at the high school level. That would be a good start, the very basics that kids should know. I believe that teaching beginning apologetics would be much better information for them to be learning, and I think you would probably find the kids much more interested in attending CCD, and Mass. I have teenagers, and have looked for years for a good program. Thank you, I appreciate the replies that have been given, sometimes I feel alone in this quest of mine.
 
I am so blessed that both of my older children have had CCD teachers who KNOW the faith & have challenged them in class. They are taken to confession monthly, study great religious art & apologetics. They do not use published texts, just Scripture, Church fathers, the Catechism, the Summa, other great writings. There is a broad curriculum, but the teachers are free to provide materials of their choosing, so far it has worked wonderfully! The “wing it” method will only work in parishes that are seriously orthodox, cause Lord knows what some teachers might do.

I know this is not the typical situation & some kids are lost, because they don’t attend Mass, don’t attend CCD as often as they should, barely know what the 7 sacraments are.

But time is an issue…they just can’t learn all they need to in a few hours a wk. If there is no faith life at home, they are likely sitting like a stone & not soaking any of it in anyway. But maybe not, my parents never went to church & I got myself up and went at age 11 or so. Why? The people there were excited to be there & absolutely in love w/Jesus Christ. I know every parish doesn’t have DYNAMIC teachers like the ones in my parish. Why should the kids get excited about church if their teachers & parents aren’t?

I do think you should supplement some material of your own even if the rel ed program is great. There is nothing like hearing it from your own parents.

Anyone interested in teaching their kids to be apologists? Check out the Prove It! Series by Amy Wellborn.Start with Prove It! God , there’s Prove It! Church, Prove It! Jesus. I’d say ages 11+, depending on maturity. These are not just for kids who are questioning themselves, but they literally walk kids through what friends might say against the idea that God exists or that the Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, various arguments, how to counter with challenges. Excellent quotes & points to ponder from great philosophers & Church fathers. Not the typical teen book. I think they’re great for adults who have no idea how to defend the church as well or maybe have no clue why they believe what they believe.
 
My wife is an RE at our church. I conduct Adult RE and RCIA.

She has one major issue. Parents expect all the teaching to happen through her 1 hour session.

The kids spend 166 hours with the parents doing almost nothing oriented towards God. Two thirds of the kids spend 1 hour in Mass being told to sit still and be quiet but get no explaination about what is happening, the other third are doing one more hour of the first sentence. Then my wife and her catechists get them for one hour (free babysitting) to “change there lives to God’s and the Church’s ways”.

If you have problems step up. That is what 6 parents have done to help my wife. Do not get me wrong my wife and her catechists take the kids for that hour and do the best they can, they pray for miracles because for some of the kids that is what it will take with the home’s they are in.

The first catechists are the parents. You have the responsibility to teach your kids, and the kids of other parents. If you have knowledge share it with parents and kids alike. Encourage parents to attend Adult RE sessions to increase their knowledge and understanding. You may be shocked to find out how many don’t know why we cross ourselves, genuflect, etc.
 
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krby34:
My wife is an RE at our church. I conduct Adult RE and RCIA.

She has one major issue. Parents expect all the teaching to happen through her 1 hour session.

The kids spend 166 hours with the parents doing almost nothing oriented towards God. Two thirds of the kids spend 1 hour in Mass being told to sit still and be quiet but get no explaination about what is happening, the other third are doing one more hour of the first sentence. Then my wife and her catechists get them for one hour (free babysitting) to “change there lives to God’s and the Church’s ways”.

As stated above I have been there. I have taught many different levels of CCD myself, but have been unsatisfied with the materials I have to present. I do not find fault with the teachers (so don’t get me wrong, I think many try very hard as I have done)

If you have problems step up. That is what 6 parents have done to help my wife. Do not get me wrong my wife and her catechists take the kids for that hour and do the best they can, they pray for miracles because for some of the kids that is what it will take with the home’s they are in.

The first catechists are the parents. You have the responsibility to teach your kids, and the kids of other parents. If you have knowledge share it with parents and kids alike. Encourage parents to attend Adult RE sessions to increase their knowledge and understanding. You may be shocked to find out how many don’t know why we cross ourselves, genuflect, etc.
Actually no I am not shocked to know how many don’t know anything about their faith, they are there as a warm body in the pew on Sunday.

I also know that, we are the first catechist, I teach mine at home, and attend weekly Mass with them. However, especially as they become teenagers, they want to hear it from someone else besides Mom (what does she know). Don’t get me wrong here either. I have a good relationship with my kids, but most teens will go through a period of questioning what parents know, and CCD could help with this if they have a good program. I guess what I am looking for is if anyone has a good program at their church, that I could suggest to our DRE that does more than just talk about love your neighbor. Again there is nothing wrong with this but they need more if they are to defend their faith as they get older. I will definitely check out the Prove It Series above.

My children are not young, the youngest is 15. I have dealt with this for many years, and I have done a lot of teaching at home, that is why they have been able to stand up to their peers in the public school.

I guess I really started this thread in the hopes of helping younger parents, and our DRE find good resources that will help actually teach our faith. I have not had my children in CCD since the youngest was in 5th grade because of what they teach here. Like someone said above they got real bored with Love Your Neighber. Again this is not the fault of the teachers, and I do understand that when you have a lot of parents that don’t and won’t teach their own kids it is hard, you have to start at the preK level. However, for children like mine who I want to keep on fire for their faith, it is too childish at the 5th grade level. I actually work in the church office, so you would probably be surprised at what I see. I do not work in the DRE office, so I am looking for good programs to present to her, as well as info that parents may be able to use at home. I joined this forum at the end of May because it was put out by Catholic Answers I have never been on forums before. I still deal with teenagers, and would like good resources for them. We all have different talents, mine is not in the searching field, I get real lost, and on the internet overwhelmed. So for those who love to do it, I am asking for help.
 
Also, please I am not trying to offend anyone here. In our parish we have a very good DRE in the respect that she is even trying hard for the kids. However, she is of the opinion that Apologetics means we are apologizing for our faith, and so it is a little difficult to change her over. That is why I am looking for a good program, that she might consider. Yes there is even politics in the church office.
 
I’m 27 and I can remember how ineffective CCD classes were when I had to attend. My most vivid memories of those classes were everyone sitting around bored waiting for the class to end. (teachers included). The teachers probably only filled up half the time with classwork, and the rest of the time was sitting there waiting until it was time to leave. I can only imagine what could have filled up all that wasted time. The only solid stuff I remember being taught was general stuff about the Sacraments, Beatitudes, and the Works of Mercy. Everything else was “God loves you” stuff.

I want to do so much better for my own kids. They’re 7, 5, and 2. But what I’ve found is that it is hard to find solid Catholic material to help teach them the faith. I’ve looked in our local Catholic bookstore and online and I can’t find anything to teach them the whole Faith at their level of understanding. Of course there’s many books about the Saints, the Sacraments, etc. But I was specifically looking for things to introduce them to scripture. Everything I found seemed like it was coming from a protestant.
I can’t find anything to teach them about the Mass and how to participate in the Mass or little things like why we do this or do that. I understand these things in adult language, but I’m not very good at putting it in words that they will understand.
There’s a lot out there to teach them general Catholic stuff, but in my situation my in-laws are basically anti-Catholic, and I am trying to teach my kids NOW how to defend their faith and understand it because it’s only a matter of time before my in-laws challenge them (which MIL has already done once) It’s really hard when the materials out there aren’t specific enough to get down to the nitty gritty of the Faith.
 
I was a RE teacher for 7th - 9th grade boys and girls for 1 year :eek: . Figure I must have lopped 50 or more years in Purgatory off my account. I got little preparation and felt at times totally in over my head. At that age, in my opinion, keep the boys and girls separate - it reduces the urge to impress others by misbehaving.

Having said that, I would recommend a couple things we are currently using for our 13 year old son, as we are doing the catechism duties ourselves nowadays (our 8 year old son still enjoys going, I think it is just at the older ages that it can be tougher to keep them interested). A good book to use for reference and study is, amazingly, “Catholicism For Dummies” by Rev. John Trigilio Jr., and Reverend Kenneth Brighenti. You get catholic history, comparative information on other protestant groups, and explanations of what we do and why we do it. We actually read the apendices first, then started at the beginning and take it a chapter at a time. We then spend some time discussing the chapter and questions that may have come up, and open and close the sessions with some prayer.

The second thing I’d recommend looking into is what is called a FIRE group (don’t ask me what the initials stand for - I have a terrible memory :confused: ) . I think it stands for Family Intergenerational Religious Education. We just finished up participating in a pilot program for it at our church with 3 other families. We met once a month and had structured materials that allowed us to conduct a group catechism, so to speak. Cuts across all ages and gets the whole family involved. You rotate homes to meet at, have a little food or munchies available and get to know your fellow parishoners while learning about your faith. If you go to our church web sit ( www.holyspirit-highland.com ) you can contact the parish (“Contact Us”) and just direct your questions to Jill Peck, who is taking over as RE Coordinator, and hers was also one of the families which participated in the FIRE group program. We will be starting back up in the Fall, and hope to get more families involved in this option. If all goes well, each of the 4 families who started out will lead their own FIRE group, and they will just continue on as long as the members want to participate, which hopefully will be as long as they all have kids, and maybe longer.

Hope this information helps. Have a blessed day!
 
Thanks Doc, You are right on what FIRE stands for. My family participated in that for 4 years. That is the closest to what I liked in the CCD/Religious Ed formats. I have been unable to convince this new parish to give it a try, been at the new parish for 6 years. Too many families don’t want to take the responsiblity of of the education of their own children. FIRE was the only progam available at the old parish (I know that some left because of it). The sad thing is that families don’t realize how much that program also brings the parish together, and actually make it a family community that worships together. We even had some singles involved, and grandparent that didn’t have family in the area involved (which was great for us since our kids grandparents were so far away). But, even that program didn’t go into the apologetics at all. However, I would go back to that if offered.
 
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