I am the Director of Religious Education at our parish and I cannot understand why parents do not take their children to Sunday Mass but have them in CCD classes. Is there anything we can tell them to get them there? Can we tell them something about non-attendance? Can we require that they attend as part of their class hours?
I’m sorry, and I understand how frustrating the situation must be, but the parish does not have the authority to intimidate, coerce, or otherwise compel parents to bring their children to Mass at your parish. The Code of Canon Law states:
The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic rite either on a holy day itself or on the evening of the previous day (canon 1248 §1).
What this means is that Catholics are free to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days at any Catholic parish they please. They are not required to attend Mass at the parish where their children attend CCD classes. Any form of coercion, such as attendance sheets, rewards, or compulsory “class hours” is an unjust infringement on this right. It should go without mentioning that any form of punishment for innocent children who generally have no say in where their parents attend Mass is also inappropriate and unjust.
The most you can do is to leverage the power of persuasion. There are two ways to do this, both of which could be used together:
*]One, the pastor could write an essay for a parents’ CCD orientation packet explaining the Catholic obligation to attend Mass and the benefits to families in the CCD program in attending Mass regularly at the parish where their children attend CCD. These benefits must not be tangible “pay-offs,” but should be an explanation that this contributes to a “holistic” religious formation experience, enabling the family to become more involved in the parish community. The pastor could also mention that regular family attendance at the parish more easily assists the catechetical staff in assessing the children’s readiness for the sacraments.
*]Two, you can teach the Sunday/holy day obligation to the children as part of their curriculum. You should avoid suggesting that the children nag their parents, but you could be prepared to assist children who would like to attend Mass at the parish on Sundays and holy days in doing so (e.g., organizing car pools, speaking to parents at the child’s request, etc.).
[/LIST]If there are families with children in CCD who still don’t attend Mass at your parish, the pastor might approach the parents privately and ask if they are attending Mass elsewhere on Sundays and holy days, so as to assure himself that the family understands the obligation to attend Mass somewhere. After that, the only thing left to do is to let go and let God.