In 2018, St. Mary’s Press shocked the Church in North America when it published its research project, Going, Going Gone: Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics. The report showed that most young Catholics who stopped believing or caring about their religious identity did so around age 13, and that 87% of young people who left Catholicism stated that “nothing would bring them back.” Equipping parents to equip children is the way stop this exit from the Church.
The pressure is on to make sure that kids in your parish can live their Catholic faith joyfully at a young age and remain in the faith. And no program or ministry initiative can take the place of the chief role models in these kids’ lives – their parents. Supporting parents and helping them to raise their children in the faith is essential, and that requires seeing parents as partners in faith formation.
One parish in Minnesota gives a gift to every new family in faith formation: Karen and Tommy Tighe’s book, How to Catholic Family: Nurturing Faith in the Messiness of Everyday Life. This book is the basis of four mandatory meetings that parents attend before their children enter faith formation. At each gathering, parents meet another Catholic family in the parish that is intentionally planting the seeds of faith in their home so they can see what it takes to build a family life that is authentically Catholic. Parents discuss the book with faith formation coordinators and agree to implement five practices of their choosing in their home to nurture their children’s spiritual lives.
With all this in mind, it’s time to ask – are you equipping parents to equip children?