Wednesday, April 10, 2013


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.


Matt W said...

Don't even get me started....

Anonymous said...

Father, I am not a parishioner, nor do I live in your diocese, but I would like to say thank you. One day my teenage son - who went to public school - told me that Catholic schools were a waste of time. When I asked why he said that the Catholic school educated kids he knew never went to confession and rarely went to Mass

There is a real problem when a 12 year old makes that kind of observation.

Sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision in not sending our children to Catholic school. And other times I wonder what the point is of Catholic schools when the children don't even go to Mass unless the school takes them.

Anonymous said...

I had a neighbor once tell me that is why they send their kids to catholic schools so they can go to Mass during the week and then they don't have to take them on Saturday or Sunday

Pat said...

In third world countries, the Church has had a history of starting schools to help the children of the poor. The Church relies on benefactors to run these schools, hoping that the children will receive not only an education but the seed of faith. We can't say for sure what seeds are being planted in our day school students. But nowadays, we don't need to go to Africa to find "the missions."

I wish I could offer encouragement, however, about the very real problems (spiritual and financial) of which you wrote.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Catholic schools are worth the time, energy or money that is poured into them. I think the parish would be much better off without the school. The Catholic kids coming out of Catholic schools proudly fornicate, contracept and support same sex unions and they'll be happy to tell you how old fashioned or bigoted you are for supporting the church's teaching. And that's just on Facebook and Twitter!

Anonymous said...

bravo, Fr Valencheck

tell it like it is


Anonymous said...

this guy who has no use for catholic kids and catholic schools is all wet


MaryofSharon said...

@ rmk: Anonymous #1 and Anonymous #3 may sound cynical, but they are actually making legitimate points that must be seriously pondered. We have to ask what good is Catholic education if the products of this education are no different in beliefs and behavior than those in the rest of the culture? Why do the majority of Catholic children, educated in our Catholic schools fail to comprehend the truths of our Faith? Why do they not see the goodness and beauty in our moral teachings? Why, dear God, are the children in our Catholic schools belittled or even ostracized by their peers within the walls of that Catholic school for embracing the teaching of the Church and taking their faith seriously?

What do we need to do differently?

It is utterly insufficient to simply provide them with a bunch of doctrine and facts (although the least we can do is assure that when in our institutions, they learn these with uncompromising orthodoxy and winsome beauty.) It is also essential, but still not enough to teach them why we believe what we believe so that they can defend it in the face of increasing hostility.

But what can we do to make them really"culture-proof", to protect them from picked off as easy targets by an atheist or new-age or progressive professor or even by the incessant mantras of popular TV shows?

Ultimately we need to lead them into a relationship with God as Father, where they know they are beloved sons and daughters, and with Jesus as Lord, in which they commit themselves to be intentional disciples of the only One who is worthy of the investment of their entire lives. We need to help them see that the greatest access they will have in this life to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is right here in the Catholic Church, through her teachings and sacraments. We need to spend ourselves helping them (and their parents) to understand what is really happening at Mass: a lifting of the veil between heaven and earth, an intimate encounter with the Creator of the Universe! God help us!

"If we really understood what was happening at Mass, we would die of joy!" St. Jean Vianney

Pat said...


All your points are excellent.

But now we are back to "the parents." Parents need to reinforce the Faith at home. But will they do so if the Faith is not even important enough for them to attend weekly Mass with their children?

Many of the current parents were poorly evangelized and catechized as youth.

MaryofSharon said...

You're so right, Pat. In fact I'd reverse what you said to say the parish school exists to reinforce what the parents are (well, should be) teaching and modeling at home.

So take everything I wrote and apply it to the parents, too! The difference is that when kids go to a Catholic school, we have their attention for hundreds and hundreds of hours. But if the parents are never even at Mass, I can't imagine that they'd come to adult education programs and other types of spiritual opportunities, etc. Sigh.... How do we enable them to open their minds and their hearts to see that they are missing the essence of life? the greatest joy and peace imaginable? the only thing (Person) worth living (or dying) for?