Are your schools/communities scheduling too much on holy days of obligation?


#1

Mine are! We have five kids here in our family and four out of five of them have something in addition to school scheduled on Ascension Thursday.

  1. Kid #1 has the high school prom that night.
  2. Kid #2 is in a school play. She’s been involved in working on this for months.
  3. Kid #4 has a soft ball game that night.
  4. Kid #5 has an end of the year field pre-school trip to the park. Parents must attend.

Alright, so I’ve decided we’ll skip the softball and the field trip. Kid #1’s been told he MUST attend school in the morning, but tough. I’ll call him in and tell them why. It’s really not essential and we’ll all go to Mass in the a.m., then afterwards I’ll drop everyone off at their respective schools. In case you’re wondering, I really don’t over schedule activities for my children. Each has plenty of free time during the week. So why does it always seem like the Holy Days are never free?!?!? :frowning:

I live in New Jersey and there are plenty of Catholics here in New Jersey. I don’t understand why we always have this problem. Do you have this problem? What do you do? Did you call the schools central offices and complain? I’m thinking I need to do something to let the powers that be know I’m tired of this.

Before someone posts, “Send your kids to Catholic school.”, or “Just homeschool.”, please understand that it’s not an option for my family. I’d like to hear from other families who have kids in public school/non-Catholic school.


#2

It would be nice to leave holy days free, but these don't seem to be events that could not be scheduled on a Sunday, provided that there was sufficient time to attend Mass. Not that you're not describing a rather full plate regardless of the day of the year.

When Yom Kippur falls during exam week, the Jewish kids in public schools get accomodation. This is the same kind of thing. You tell the school that your children will be absent from school on Thursday morning due to a religious obligation, and the school accomodates that. It is not their place to tell you that you have to meet your religious obligations at a time that is convenient to the school.

It is up to you, the parent, to decide if after-school events will take precedence over during-school participation. People pull their kids from school during school hours for orthodontist appointments all of the time. They go on vacation. They do all sorts of things. Since this is maybe three times a school year, consider consulting with your children's teachers about how you will handle each Holy Day or special liturgical day as it comes up. (If you do this, working around exams is far easier to do, because your child can take his or hers early.)

As for the softball game and the play, my general policy is that you have to look at the schedule on the day you decide to make a commitment. I tell the coach about the days the kids will miss on the first day of practice. If the team is in danger of forfeiting if we were to miss (we have two on the same team), then we take that into consideration. Otherwise, the coach and I come to our understanding very early on. So far, they've always been very accomodating, and appreciate the heads-up. We have even arranged take-home practices for practice days when they had to go to something at church.

Finally, I've been to Mass twice in a day on a Holy Day, to accomodate this sort of thing. It's very nice, if your driving schedule allows it.


#3

Our parish here in Oregon usually has the evening Mass for a Holy Day of Obligation on the feast day itself, but some of the parishes in New Jersey have Vigil Masses on Wednesday, June 1. That might help you out.


#4

The fact is that since public school can’t cater to one religion, they can’t cater to any religion. Look at it this way - the school district in my city educates kids from 22 different ethnicities (just checked the website). Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this represents 10 different religions, and each religion has a unique set of high holy days. It would be nigh on impossible for our schools to schedule all the events in a school year without getting in someone’s way.

I’m not suggesting that your district is this diverse, but you can see how complicated it can be.

Another thing parents complain about is where they have kids attending different schools in the same district, schools that schedule events like dances or open houses on the same night. If they have a hard time scheduling “intra-districally,” imagine what it’s like to schedule around a variety of religions.

Believe me, I hear your frustration. Our daughters had school during Holy Week this year, of all things. H.o.l.y. W.e.e.k. Well, of course we didn’t send them to school Holy Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, but still…

If you want to complain, by all means complain. I think attending a school board meeting would be more effective than talking to an anonymous bureaucrat on the phone. but don’t expect things to change. :frowning:

I think your idea of calling in for your kids and taking them to school after Mass is about the best thing you can do in this less-than-ideal circumstance.


#5

I'm a teacher, and in general we don't schedule anything in our district on Sundays :rotfl:

Yeah, I crack myself up. :D

Seriously, I'm a music teacher in a public school district, and it's a small one (only 19 schools). We just had our schedule meeting to work out when all the schools would have their music activities next year. Almost every single day of every single week is taken, just to get everything in without any conflicts among "feeder" schools.

And that's just music performances. This doesn't take into account sports, drama, student council, etc., etc., etc.

This year we had a professional development day on Good Friday. I told my principal that I would not be attending, gave up my salary for the day, and went to church with my son. That's life.

As a family, you set your priorities -- and boy do you have yours right! :thumbsup: -- and then stick to them. Personally, we have about a 50% hit rate, with events not falling on holy days. But most of the groups we're involved in aren't looking for holy days when they schedule their events, and honestly, Ascension Thursday isn't even listed on most calendars.

God bless you, and keep the faith!

Gertie


#6

Thanks, these are all really very good posts with good considerations. But I think I will complain to the district, just on principle. Maybe I'll even take it to the Diocesan and Archdiocesan news papers.. Because if more Catholics complained and then didn't show up for things extra activities on holy days, I think the administrators, teachers, coaches, etc. might at least take some notice. I think maybe they could accommodate us just a little buy say skipping the nighttime activities....? There are a lot of us Catholics! :D Strength in numbers, et al...

I'm not usually a complainer. But sometimes fulfilling Holy Days of obligation means missing out on something really important... Like curriculum night. My #4 just reminded me that's this Thursday, too. So really I have 5 extra things besides school on Thursday. :rolleyes:


#7

When I was in school, with the holy days of obligation, either my mother took me and my sister to the earliest Mass possible which was 7am (to get those on the way to work). Or we went in the evening around 7pm. I usually saw more young people at the evening Mass compared to the earliest one.

With those days that fall on my days I work, I go to the evening Mass so I get a full day’s pay. I’ve taken partial days off, and gone to the mid day Mass for holy days.

Yes, schools should be accommodating religious needs more. Some places do a better job than others.


#8

most schools (or shall I say, my school) accomodate more for the Jews' religious tradition than for the Christians' religious traditions.


#9

Another problem is where some diocese move Holy Days to the closest Sunday, so that a public school administrator could easily say, well it's not a Holy Day in the next town over!

Our parish always schedules vigil Masses for Holy Days as well as evening Masses that night. We also have a regular daily Mass at 6:15 am, so we really have no excuse! ;)

If you don't have options like that, I'd say your plan to go to morning Mass and then drop them off at school is sound. By this time of year, if a child isn't actually taking an exam, they are probably not doing anything much in school anyway.

I assume you have a priority system in place for events anyway (ie, high school before pre-school, sports or theater before dances), so your kids are used to the triage of days like this!


#10

[quote="Not_Sure, post:8, topic:242333"]
most schools (or shall I say, my school) accomodate more for the Jews' religious tradition than for the Christians' religious traditions.

[/quote]

This is because they're smart enough to complain. Maybe as a group, Catholics are too docile. There's not enough complaints from us.


#11

That’s true. My husband and I often have to split up and take turns with the kid’s events. Unfortunately, society isn’t designed for large families anymore. It used to be that moms stayed home and kids played around the neighborhood. Now everyone is out and going to various activities. Most have between one and three kids. So with five children, we’re the odd balls, I guess. :wink:

My chapel has a 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 7 p.m. Masses for holy days. No vigil Mass. I don’t usually go for the evening mass, because it’s tough on the younger ones.


#12

we don’t have this particular problem because in this diocese Ascension is observed on the 7th Sunday of Easter and Holy Days on a Saturday or Monday are either not observed or do not require Mass attendance, or celebrated on Sunday. Be that as it may, schools are supposed to reserve Wednesday evening as youth night (more influence of Texas Baptists, God bless them, than Catholics but we also benefit) and schedule no sporting events, practice or anything else. Some of the magnet schools however disregard that rule entirely. And at least half of HS students are involved in leagues or clubs that are not school related so guess what has to give-CCD. It is probably the number one reason kids are not confirmed when they should be. OP is right the parents can set the priorities but only up to a point. Our kids are excused from Confirmation meeting only when the competing activity is something that has bearing on their academic grade or ranking.


#13

[quote="Not_Sure, post:8, topic:242333"]
most schools (or shall I say, my school) accomodate more for the Jews' religious tradition than for the Christians' religious traditions.

[/quote]

I've never had the situation where I've told the school that my kids would miss for a religious obligation where they weren't willing to accomodate, provided that we were willing to accomodate the teacher. The truth is, most teachers will accomodate even family vacations, if the family is willing to go the extra mile by giving a generous amount of notice and the student is willing to study ahead where necessary and turn in some assignments earlier rather than later.

After all, students get sick or need to see a doctor, and miss class, and teachers cope with that. They miss school for funerals, and teachers cope with that. The teachers just don't like it when their accomodation is taken for granted. I can't say that I blame them.


#14

[quote="EasterJoy, post:13, topic:242333"]
I've never had the situation where I've told the school that my kids would miss for a religious obligation where they weren't willing to accomodate, provided that we were willing to accomodate the teacher. The truth is, most teachers will accomodate even family vacations, if the family is willing to go the extra mile by giving a generous amount of notice and the student is willing to study ahead where necessary and turn in some assignments earlier rather than later.

After all, students get sick or need to see a doctor, and miss class, and teachers cope with that. They miss school for funerals, and teachers cope with that. The teachers just don't like it when their accomodation is taken for granted. I can't say that I blame them.

[/quote]

Well, my son was told that attendance at school today is mandatory or he can't go to the prom tonight. Do you know what that means? It means the school's unwilling to accommodate him. He and his Dad now have to get up at 5:30 a.m. in order to make it to the 6:30 a.m. Mass. This on a weekday when he has a full day of school ahead and will be out late tonight at his prom. :mad: It's ridiculous and the principal and superintendent will hear it from me later on.


#15

If there are a ton of Catholics in your area, then each Day of Obligation should have a Vigil Mass the evening before. If this is not happening, contact your bishop and make the request. I doubt that he would be unwilling to accommodate. :thumbsup:


#16

I do agree with the school administration about school attendance being mandatory before after school activities. Some kids would rather have the day off to prepare for an event like a dance or prom but school comes first before a fun event. Religious observances like holy days should also take place before fun things.

The few times my sister or I had school activities (choir for me, gymnastics for my sister) on a holy day in the evening, we simply had to make due, get up early & go to Mass, and we were not allowed to complain to anyone. Our mother simply called churches ahead of time in our local area to locate a Mass to attend then take us to school after Mass or attend Mass before the event we participated in.


#17

I agree with the mandatory school attendance before a school event.

With the early mass, your son CAN attend mass, go to school, and go to prom! Excellent! He’s young, so I hardly think the extra hour of being up early will negatively affect him.

Our day is observed on Sunday, so school is as usual. (Catholic school).


#18

It is a little late now, but this is something that can be taken to the school board, if the principal won’t bend, and the state board of high education after that. It is ridiculous that the school can use sports or the prom to prevent a parent from taking their student out of school for a religious observance. The basic rule of “you need to be at school in order to participate in extracurricular events” is a good one, it keeps kids from cutting school for pretend reasons, but there needs to be reasonable exceptions built into it, including consideration of what is in the end a First Amendment issue.

In all cases, it is best to look down the tracks and iron these things out in advance, but we live and learn. You’ll know what you’re up against next time around. When you get the next set of school calendars, go to the teachers, coaches, and other organizers in your kids’ lives, and make arrangements for how you are going to handle Holy Days of Obligation. As far as I know, a school does not have the power to choose which Mass your family decides to attend. At any rate, addressing the question far in advance will give you time to work up the ladder of authority, as needed.


#19

This is such a tough time of year. I’d bet that the school has something scheduled for every day of the month, and can’t really take days off for one religious holiday over another. And while it’s true that the schools in my area DO cater to some Jewish holidays, remember that it’s really only their 2 biggest holidays - Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that the schools have off for. The schools cater to our biggest holidays too - Christmas and Easter, and at least around here, everyone also has Good Friday off.

While the school ought to allow students to miss school for a religious observance, it also might have been possible to find a vigil Mass somewhere in your area. If I were in your shoes, I would have either found a Wednesday night Mass somewhere, or I would’ve put up a stink with my school, well in advance of the prom - giving the school enough time to think the matter through (have a meeting about it) and not have to have a knee-jerk reaction.

To be fair, the state run schools don’t have an obligation to accommodate a conflict between Mass and an optional event (after all, Prom is not a requirement for graduation or anything). I think they should be lenient here, but they aren’t obligated to. In fact, if there is no vigil Mass near you, I might also be complaining to my church or diocese - Vigil Masses make a big difference for families with busy schedules, and unless you live in mission territory, there’s no good reason for not having a vigil Mass, and helping the flock to meet their obligations without too much sacrifice.


#20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.