Here’s the proof
The previous post speculated that the Roman Catholic Church would be better off if it did not have government funding to support the Roman Catholic separate school system.
The text below is from the front page of CRIPE newsletter #105 for Fall 2010. Unfortunately, the web reference “diocesepembroke.ca ” no longer leads to this article, but here it is, from the front page of the newsletter:
The Quebec example – church-led Catholic education
From “Ecclesia – the newsletter of the Catholic Diocese of Pembroke”
http://diocesepembroke.ca/site/irnages/stories/ecclesia-pdf/ecclesia_2010-06.pdf.pdf page 7
Surprisingly, Fr. Real Ouellette, who serves the Quebec parishes of Fort Coulonge, Otter Lake, Waltham and Vinton, is not mourning the loss of funding for Catholic education in that province.
Since the church assumed responsibility for catechesis training five years ago, he has witnessed a stronger bond between church and family.
“I think it was one of the most positive things that’s been done,” he says.
For Fr. Ouellette, outreach to children and youth has always been a priority. He admits that the new structure in Quebec adds to the responsibilities of both church workers and parents, but he says that in itself is a good thing.
“That’s the purpose of the church — to talk about Jesus, to spread the Gospel and to deepen the faith in Christ,” he says.
“It is work, but it is good work.” Fr. Ouellette sees the benefits of the church-led education program first-hand — in the previously empty pews that are now filled with families, at least once a month when they have made the commitment to be there for catechesis.
He is also enjoying the experiences of the richer dialogue taking place among those families.
He shudders when he recalls his conversations in recent years with parents asking to have their infants baptized.
“I’d ask some questions to learn about their own knowledge,” he says. “Even though they had been educated in the Catholic schools, they barely remember anything from it. They didn’t need to talk about God or Jesus with their kids.”
Now, families who elect to be part of a parish take on an active role associated with that choice. Each September, Quebec parishes hold registration for children from grades one through six. Once enrolled, they meet with instructors at the church once each month, when possible on a Sunday so that the education session ties in with the weekly celebration of mass. At the same time, their parents meet with instructors who help them support their children’s learning. The educational program runs from September through June each year.
Catechesis is still optional, in that it is up to the families to enroll and take part. But it is an option that is being taken up willingly by a large percentage of parishioners. In Fort Coulonge, for example, there are 150 children participating this year.
Each of those children represents another door opening for exploration of personal faith within the family and the church.
“It gets them to be involved in their faith,” concludes Fr. Ouellette. “They don’t see religion as just another course at school or something that the teachers are better able to handle.”
As an interesting aside to the premise of the Will Cohen article are the comments of Bishop Richard Greco. Bishop Greco who was chair of the Canadian bishops’ episcopal commission for Christian education stated in a speech at the Catholic Conference at the Shaw Conference Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake the following:
He told the story of an Ontario school trustee who had eight children. He sent four to public high school and four to Catholic high school. The trustee and his wife encouraged the ones attending the public high school to attend Mass in the parish church regularly and to participate in parish activities.
Today the children are adults. The ones who went to public high school today continue to attend Sunday Mass and look to their parish as a source [community]. The four who attended Catholic high school no longer attended Sunday Mass.