To be quite honest, if every one of our students in our grade school went to Sunday Mass, we would have to add another Mass. I know some go to a more convenient time – say a local Sunday night Mass which is often Life Teen or Teen Life Mass, I can never keep that straight – but even that does not account for the lack of our students in the pews.
We had our presbyteral district meeting (priests of the area) this past week and one of the topics of discussion (as it always is) is how do we get our parents of the day school to Mass? No one had a legal solution. But the question is, “Why do we want them there?”
Well, first of all our schools are Catholic schools. There is nothing more important that we do than pass on the faith. We are not public or private schools – but Catholic. Our first job is about saving souls and creating Catholic ladies and gentlemen. Mass is not just something that we do on the weekends, it is who we are. Catholicism without Mass is like a birthday cake without the cake – there is nothing but a plate and a number of candles.
And although there are examples of Catholic grade schools that do not rely on subsidies from a parish, the typical model is that parents pay a good portion of what it costs to educate their child and the parish picks up the rest. And where does this magical money come from? The people sitting in the pews on Sunday. A portion of every dollar that they put into the collection basket keeps the school going – pays for your child to receive a Catholic education.
And there’s the rub – especially with those who join the parish in order to get the parishioner discount (if such a think exists where you are) and then never participates in any meaningful way with that community that is sacrificing resources to educated their child – to not even to pray with them. That is why “we go to Mass elsewhere” doesn’t cut it. “Elsewhere” is not the community paying for the child’s education. That is why “we give a lot of money to the parish for tuition” doesn’t cut it. First it is not covering the cost of education and secondly Mass is the most important thing that we do – not give money.
Of course it is the ones who don’t come to Mass that seem to always be the focus of attention. Rarely do we think to praise those who not only send their kid to the school and come to Mass, but add in so many other ways to the life of the parish. God bless you all.
To those who don’t I can only say this: Your grade school community believes in Catholic education, believes in your child, and so makes available the institution that feeds and nourishes his or her mind, body, and soul. That community asks that you believe and support them also – particularly with your presence at Sunday Mass.