Youth mentorship in a Catholic parish

I hope Beefy Levinson actually as more than five loyal readers.  Here’s a peak at the inner workings of a parish and its youth program:

The youth minister does what he does for a living, though he’s clear he doesn’t want to do it forever. I don’t blame him one bit. As is the case with most Catholic parishes these days, the employees of the parish are 90% women. A woman holds the position of Director of Religious Education. As the title says, she’s a clip haired, mean faced broad in a pantsuit as Michael Savage would put it. My sources tell me that she’s untouchable and she strongly dislikes the YM. Of course she does; he’s a confident man who cares about ensuring the kids receive a good formation in the Catholic faith and wants them to go to heaven.

The pastor believes in the YM but at the same time, he’s terrified of confrontation like most priests usually are. If he gets uppity with his female employees, they might all walk out and complain to the bishop. Father would then get called onto the carpet and get scolded for not being paaaaastoral and having a problem with women. Both YM and myself, in contrast, love confrontation. If I were in his position, I would tell the DRE, “Fuck you and your progressive bullshit.” YM cannot do that as he has a wife and infant daughter to take care of.

I’m thinking I’d like to involve myself in the religious education program at whatever parish I end up in.  (It seemed silly to bother infiltrating my current one when I don’t have tenure.)  I have no relevant expertise to teach, but I can volunteer to make copies and babysit.  The point is to be able to follow what’s going on in the program and check material for orthodoxy.  My oldest girl will soon be old enough for religion class, which they usually make children take if they want to receive the sacraments (otherwise I wouldn’t even consider accepting the spiritual dangers of a post-Vatican II religion class), and I’ll definitely want to be able to spy on them.

24 Responses

  1. I taught RE some years back. I thought I might have a calling, but then decided that I didn’t. I made the mistake of trying to be the religion teacher I wished I had had, when all of my pupils were wishing that they had the religion teacher I actually did have. He talked a lot about football, as I recall. It could have been worse, I suppose. He could have talked about saving the planet. There was a lot about saving the planet in the RE book I was given to teach out of. There was also a lot about Catholic social doctrine, which seemed to resemble the Communist Manifesto

    The rule in our parish is that children not enrolled in the parochial school must take RE up to first communion, and then must attend the youth group for a year or so before confirmation. We have not held our children to a stricter standard, but do try to compensate with lessons at home. I don’t mean to denigrate the poor souls who are teaching RE.

    I really think we would be better off if we went back to reciting the Baltimore Catechism–assuming that is what Roman Catholics actually did. Children actually like to memorize, and those who’ve memorized a Catechism at least know what it is that they believe or don’t believe. As it is, the teachings of the Church must appear terribly murky to a child. Maybe that’s intended.

  2. The point is to be able to follow what’s going on in the program and check material for orthodoxy.

    How do you tell an orthodox crayon from an unorthodox crayon?

    You are overestimating the quality of RE by orders of magnitude. They aren’t going to teach your children heresy. They are going to teach your children that Catholicism is a completely empty joke. That it’s a crafting activity. That it’s utterly pointless. That nobody, including people who are employed by the Church full time, takes it seriously.

  3. JMsmith,

    You write that children like to memorize. I and my former grade-school classmates had to memorize religious material from first grade through seventh grade (after which the school closed down). I don’t think a single one of us enjoyed it!

    But I do think it’s a good practice.

  4. Yes, if you want your children to be well instructed in the faith, you’ll probably have to do it yourself. This is historically how it was done anyway, wasn’t it? The faith was passed down around the fire in the evening.

  5. But if you want to ensure that your children know how to glue elbow macaroni to sheets of construction paper, RE is excellent.

  6. Yes, if you want your children to be well instructed in the faith, you’ll probably have to do it yourself. This is historically how it was done anyway, wasn’t it? The faith was passed down around the fire in the evening.

    Yes, and it is in the catechism that it is the parents’ responsibility to do so. When I was confirmed this year, I had to say this pledge (?) denouncing my past heresy and life outside of the church, as well as promising that any under my care (i.e., children) would be instructed in the faith.

    What is RE? In my parish, the children’s classes are called CCD.

  7. Thank you for the link Bonald.

    One specific criticism the YM gets is that he talks too much about hellfire and damnation. I put the question to the kids: “Besides this program, has anyone in your life – parents, teachers, priests – ever told you that hell exists and it’s possible to go there?” Not one of them could say yes. If anything, they appreciated it. As one young man told me, “For the first time this stuff sounds serious.”

  8. The father takes on the main responsibility of religious education, with the priest acting as the go-to authority on finer details, especially when the child passes the age of 10 and can begin enjoying more intricate facets of his faith. Obviously, you have to have a good priest with sound doctrine, which is getting harder these days. Thanks a lot, Kasper, huh?

    With regard to Levinson, I certainly follow his work. Smart guy.

  9. They’re supposed to allow you to teach them the required material at home. If they won’t, object to the diocese. Unless you happen to find a good PRE, this should be a fight worth having.

    While technically I can only speak to my own, I doubt your daughters’ prospective PRE is any better. It’s terrible (not heretical, but like DrBill says, it’s designed, hopefully unintentionally, to teach us that Catholicism is a joke).

  10. I volunteer for the middle school youth ministry program at the cathedral in my diocese and the D.R.E., while a women, does not at all resemble the above description. She is very orthodox and devout.

    It is very hard in the two hours a week we have these kids to teach them much substance though. First off, they are middle schoolers and don’t want to be lectured at or make an attempt to learn. So we have to try to make it fun and mix things up. Second, many of them learn absolutely nothing about the Faith at home or school so we really are only able to talk to them about the absolute basics.

    It really doesn’t take much time out of my week to help out, and if people are worried about the orthodoxy of the religious education in their parish then they should think about volunteering to help. I’m sure they could use it.

  11. “It is very hard in the two hours a week we have these kids to teach them much substance though. First off, they are middle schoolers and don’t want to be lectured at or make an attempt to learn. So we have to try to make it fun and mix things up. Second, many of them learn absolutely nothing about the Faith at home or school so we really are only able to talk to them about the absolute basics.”

    This is exactly the reason I volunteer to teach RCIA but not CCE/RE. Adults who are there freely want to learn and make good students. Sullen cross-eyed pre-teens with thumbs left crooked from over-texting whose parents adorn the house with unintelligible therapeutic slogans written in cursive on a blurry backdrop (but not a crucifix in sight!) are there because the parents they hate make them go, and they make soul-crushingly, despair-inducingly bad students.

  12. One good thing about LifeTeen is that the kids who are there want to be there for the most part. It can lead to some interesting discussions. For example, a few of them have have wondered to me, “If the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ represented to God the Father, then why is the Mass at our parish… so… well…”
    “Silly?” I prompted.
    “Yeah.”
    I say if Bonald or any of his or my readers want to get involved in forming the youth at a local parish, do it. Yes, it can be frustrating to walk on post-conciliar eggshells. Yes, some of the kids make poor students. It’s difficult to work against Modernism when it’s in the air they breathe. But it’s worth it if even just one teen takes a more active role in their own formation.

  13. “actually *h*as more than five loyal readers. Here’s a pe*e*k

  14. I’m conflicted about whether to tell people I’m Catholic. I used to do it all the time (I’m a convert,) but now I see so many problems with it that I think it’s best to leave people alone. The more “danger” their souls are in, the better. My eyes were opened to the Truth only after I had descended deeply into error and sin, and I would never have entered the Church had I been a good christian, since I would never have felt the need. Only perceived danger will make a man run.
    The evangelism has already been done. The books are already written. The people whom God wants for Himself will read them at some point, as I did. Probably the best thing you could do for your kids is try to instill an obsessive need to know the truth about things, if that’s even possible (instilling, that is, not knowing. Of course knowing is possible.)
    Vatican 2 was the voice of the conductor, “All ‘board!” The Church has folded Her tent, only special cases like mine are adjudicated now. His banquet hall is full. Everyone else is SOL.

  15. TCA, people need the truth to be brought to their attention. Most won’t just seek out books on the faith on their own.

  16. Greetings, bonald. I have dropped by to announce that after some deliberation and misfortune (e.g. Locked by police, stayed in hospital) that I have decided to become a Catholic Christian in Europe. Cheers, and God be with you.

  17. May both God and the blessed Virgin Mary mother of God be with us.

  18. Alcestisehtemoa,

    Congratulations! It sounds like you’ve had quite an adventure. May I ask why the cops locked you up?

  19. The cops received a call from somebody on the inside of the cathedral that I was disturbing the church service with my talk of confession (confession booth where the priest hears the sin of the attendant) and walking around the Lady chapel. For the next hours I kept praying to the blessed Virgin Mary mother of God for salvation and protection for myself as well as my family.

  20. […] It is true that formal RCC teaching on headship and the roles of men and women is quite good.  However, faithful Catholics understand that just like everyone else they have to fight against the current of modern Christian culture.  Because modern Christian culture is thoroughly satured with feminist thinking, there is a profound difference between RCC teaching and what on is likely to be taught at the church.  Bonald of Throne and Altar recently described the constant vigilance he and other faithful Catholics have to exercise in his post Youth mentorship in a Catholic parish: […]

  21. Had to have a chat with the head of religious education at our parish on Saturday. My son is about to make his first holy communion and she suggested that he not return in October as he couldn’t sit still and was disrupting the class.

    She moved him up a year hoping that more challenging work (lol) would quieten him down. She even had a much older girl in class keep an eye on him. What they didn’t do was inform me nor ask me to speak to him.

    They can’t discipline the kids in case it turns them off Catholicism, she said. Also they are not professional teachers and have no training to deal with disruptive students, she said.

    I am not the kind of parent who thinks my special snowflake can do no wrong. I automatically side with any teacher,as did my parents, in order to reinforce their authority. I realise my son is at fault and am confident I can control him. After discussion, they will allow him to continue for a while in October and should he fail to improve, they will give me the materials (Gaia worship and socialism, Catholic flavour) to teach him at home. Once a month the head of RE will give him a lesson before Mass on Sunday.

    The lady in charge of RE is a sincere women who wants the best for everyone but when you put weak women in charge or rebellious boys, they will prefer to get rid of the boys rather than to discipline them. One option is easy and the other one is hard. In our Parish, every single RE teacher is an elderly lady. This is their social club and my kid is lowering the fun they get from their hobby.

    Fair enough if he can’t be controlled but surely you’d get the parents involved before you made the decision to kick him out?

  22. Well they can’t possibly discipline the kids, since then they might come to the conclusion that the faith is something other than fun and games.

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