First of all, I want to wish all of you a Happy Columbus Day weekend!
In spite of a few rough edges, our Religious Education program got off the ground a few weeks ago and continues to grow and expand. At the time we started we did not have a Director of Religious Education, but thanks to careful prep work done by our former DRE, Marti Salas, the generous response of both experienced catechists and first-time volunteer teachers, and the great organizational skills and background of Trish Salcher and Jennifer Anderson, we pulled off the successful launch of another year of Religious Education.
I am VERY PROUD of this parish community for stepping up, and instead of gripping and fault-finding, rather pulling together to make our efforts to pass on the faith to our children a great success. This year I have been spending more time visiting the Religious Ed classes on Sunday and am impressed by both the numbers in the classes (we have 255 students enrolled in the Rel Ed program) and by the competence and enthusiasm of our teachers. It is really wonderful!
We have a precious gift - our faith - to hand on to the next generation. Every generation needs faith of course, but it seems to me the need grows more critical every year. The enthusiasm with which Pope Francis was greeted in his visit to the United States speaks of the hunger we all have for the witness of genuine faith. In this day of hype and constant advertising, authentic witness is both rare and precious.
All this reminds me that the critical task of handing on our faith to the next generation is not only a job for our catechists (25 cent word for religious ed teachers) but for all of us. We all know that children pay far more attention to what we DO than to what we say. All of us who profess to be followers of Jesus need to make this REAL and EVIDENT to all the members of our community. How we treat each other in the parking garage as we arrive for church, how we greet and respond to each other in church, how we sing and pray and participate in the Mass, how we greet each other at the sign of peace, how we interact with each other as we exit and make our way back to our vehicle, all these are seen and recognized by the children among us. We are constantly giving witness to them and to each other. Hopefully they see in us what we see in Pope Francis: a lively faith that is lived out in how we treat one another. That is the BEST religious education possible, and ALL of us have the opportunity, and the obligation, to teach in this way.
So let me take this opportunity to remind you that you are being observed by the children of our parish, and for better or worse you are teaching them by your example. Keep on passing on the faith to the next generation by witnessing to your faith by your actions.