I had someone pose a question to me today at church. A couple with young children about to start school. One parent is Catholic, one Protestant. Catholic parent wants Catholic School, Protestant wants non-Catholic (doesn’t matter if Christian or Secular) school. The children attend a Protestant Church and the Protestant parent is concerned about them being “converted” at a Catholic school. What advice would you give them?
This family should get on the same page regarding thier faith …
Were they married in the catholic church [or with the proper dispensations?] Did they attend marriage preparation counseling?
Is the Father an active practicing catholic? Were the children baptized? Does the Father [and Mother] understand that the Father promised to do all in his power to raise his children in the faith [or should have - if married with the chruch’s blessing]
Does dad attend Mass? If not then he should come to grips with his own faith. If hhe is not going to faithfully attend mass then perhpas he should attend church with his wife and kids. In that case the children should go to a School aligned with the family’s fatih practice …one would think that would not be secualr but who knows about the church the mother attends … some promote teaching that would appear to me to be more secular than christian [this is my personal observation of some and only some churches … ]
Sad situation where parents are at odds regarding faith … staistically speaking their children will be less likely to have any faith practice by the time they reach adulthood … takes much more work by the parents to instill faith in our secularized society - hard if both parents are on the same page next to impossible if they are not …
This is a potentially tragic situation. When the parents are divided on faith, the evil one has a good chance of claiming a soul or two.
With this in mind, I offer this advice. It does not matter one wit which school the children attend. What is most important is that the parents foster a love of Jesus Christ with spiritual formation and harmony at home.
It would be better if the children attended a public school and the family grew in their faith in a peaceful and holy home. On the other hand, if the children attend the best parochial school the area has to offer, and there is no spiritual harmony at home, it will all be for nought.
If the parents are basically split in the faith, it is almost hopeless. The family unit at home is the most substantial protection for the souls. Make this the first priority, and do not let a disparate faith ruin everything else.
This is a good example why it is very important to marry in the same faith.
I would ask what the protestant parent has against the Catholic school as the protestant parent seems to indicate that a secular or protestant is better than a Catholic school.
1.) The parents need to examine both schools. This does not only mean a tour at open house, but a long talk with both administrators, examine classroom procedure, costs, etc. They should pray about it together as best they can, and together reach a decision. It has to ultimately be what is best for the children, spiritually AND academically. This is not a winner-take-all situation.
2.) The Catholic parent could have converted from whatever faith and now wants the children in Catholic school.
I had many Protestant friends attend Catholic school, they were just enrolled as Protestants. They didn’t have to attend Mass, although they did have to learn about the Catholic faith. I guess I really wasn’t in their religious ed classes to know what they were taught, I do know many of them know more about the Catholic faith than many Catholics do.
Anyway, just thought I would throw that out there as another option.
So did I, growing up in urban Chicago in the 60s. A lot of people wanted better for their kids, and even back then, did not consider Chicago Public Schools “better” for them.
I sent our kids to non-denom schools because they outperformed the Catholic schools in academics and were far better resourced. However, I have since moved them to Catholic schools because, for some reason, they were not as happy as they should have been. My youngest would not talk in school. The eldest was having the wrong values pushed on her. Since moving them, the little one has grown in confidence. SHe is made to feel good about herself and as a result she is making better academic progress. The older one is being taught the values she should. I don’t know why my little one didn’t thrive in the last school as she cannot verbalise the reasons for her painful shyness but, she is now one of the most confident kids in her class according to her teacher.
decide now what should have been decided before the wedding: is the Catholic parent going to raise the children Catholic. Marriage should not even be attempted until this issue has been discussed and resolved. this will be the ultimate breaking point of the marriage until this absolute essential basis of family life is decided. it goes far beyond which school to attend. it goes to the core of how to live as a family.
I would rather send my kids to Public School than 90% of protestant schools… and I’m a convert coming into full communion on Saturday.
Why? The basic reason is I don’t want them to be confused. IMHO a Protestant attending a Catholic school, depending on what type of Protestant, would be much less confused than a Catholic attending most Protestant Schools. Here’s why…
For all the mainstream protestants (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Epsicopal, Methodist etc…) the Catholic Faith isn’t THAT much different from their own. They all believe in infant baptism, salvation is a free gift given by the grace of God etc… The primary difference is that you can loose that free gift if you don’t live as a Christian and the fullness in understanding communion of Saints. A protestant parent in those situations can explain the differences easily. While we have the CCC, nothing in the CCC contadicts the Bible so that becomes a moot point if the Bible is understood correctly.
If one of those Protestants sends his kids to Protestant school, most of which are Baptist / Bible Church based there is going to be confusion but they will just rack it up to “differences in opinion.”
For a Catholic though attending a, fundie school (for lack of a better term) is much different. Most of those “differences in opinions” that the Protestant consider “no big deal” ARE a big deal. Sending the kids to a Protestant school they are probably going to be taught that:
- You should only be Baptised once you “believe” or say the sinners prayer
- Infant Baptism is invalid
- OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved) - If you are “really” saved, you can’t lose it.
- The Bible is the Literal Word of God regardless of transaltion or context. The Holy Spirit will guide you to the correct understanding if you only pray about it.
- Prayer = Worship
- From #5, Praying to Saints = worshipping false gods
- Evolution is 100% incorrect
- The Earth is only about 6000 years old
- Man, ordained (breathed on) etc… can’t forgive sins (yes, this contradicts scripture)
- Contraception is not sinful
These are just off the top of my head but are pretty much standard fare. While most may not say anything Anti-Catholic, they will undermine the teachings of the Church on many levels.
They will also, as will the other children, be concened about the kid’s “salvation” in their undrestanding. They will probably hear a lot of hell and be taught how to witness at a very young age. Which in and of itself is a very GOOD thing, except the witnessing will often use fear tactics and end with the person being urged to pray the “sinners” prayer to ensure their salvation.
Since we do not believe that is the case… I defintiely wouldn’t want to confuse my kids.
Most fundies also believe in Dispensationalism which we nor the mainline protestants believe in. However because so many protestants have the “it’s their opinion” mentality, many individuals, even in the mainline churchs, follow that understanding of the Bible and the “End times” even though their church teaches something completely different.
Provided one party did not convert after the marriage. That’s a fact I’m still missing here. Were they all protestants, and one fine day one parent converted? Was one a Catholic in name only who had a sudden reversion?