I have decided to email father. This is what I have decided to write.
I hope and pray that you will hear me out, on something that has been bothering me for a long, long time. What I have to say might make you mad, I’m going to apologise for that right now. I’m going to apologise for any parishioner I offend by this letter. What I do ask is that you Hear what I need to say.
For many years now I have carried the crushing weight of seeing 99.9% of my peers leave the faith. Our Catholic schooling was inadequate. It was worse than that even. More than that, this Parish, where I am now, and where I grew up, has played a large part in failing in it’s duty to adequately catechise its children.
I went through a First Communion Programme here which failed to prepare us for this Sacrament-other than to focus on the dress we would wear etc. We never heard the word sin, for example, I never knew I was receiving the Body of Christ. Yes. a fundamental. Not taught.
A few years later. Confirmation. I learnt something about some Holy Spirit. That’s about it. And that I needed to choose this Sacrament for myself.
A few more years. Having had our first child out of marriage, we attended Baptism preparation-a lot of vain chit-chat-and vague exhortations to “be nice” to our kids-all very shallow and secular. I learned nothing about the Sacrament, never heard about original sin, or any of that.
Next year. Marriage preparation. More vague platitudes. Try not to argue too much, and if you do, make up! Lot of “discussion” again-some sneering mocking of non using of birth control by a participating couple-no attempt to explain NFP or anything. Learnt nothing of any importance about marriage.
More recently, when my husband went through RCIA in 04/05, he successfully managed not to learn anything of any relevance. He joins a group of Catholics who look elsewhere for their religious instruction, through self-study, or more often, sadly, through the mainstream media.
Fast forward some years, having had two children go through the sacrament of “colouring in”, or First Holy communion, not being ecstatic about their preparedness-but kind of being too chicken to say anything-and trusting in the promises of the catechists, and the support of the Parish Priest.
Now I am approaching my third child going through these preparations, and suddenly I feel “NO MORE”.
Now OK. This all happened before your time here. But this is the legacy we have inherited. I will raise my hand here and admit that I am not familiar with more recent preparation courses, aside from FHC. But we cannot dismiss this systematic and long term -and I’ll call a spade a spade here-child abuse.
More than that it is being impressed on me that as a Parish, we need to Publicly repent, to pray, fast and make reparation for this neglect of God’s precious souls. We cannot reach those we have lost from the church, through the church, we cannot turn back the clock, but by our sorrow, and our repentance, Jesus and Mary will return these souls.
Furthermore, as a Parish we have to ensure this never happens again. Catechesis has to be not adequate, not good, but excellent. It needs to be taught by those who LOVE Jesus and Mary and the church and what she teaches. It needs to be dripping in prayer. We deserve it. Our children deserve it. My peers and I were armed for battle with the spiritual equivalent of a teaspoon-is it no wonder that when we went out into the world we on the whole embraced a secular agenda.
“Ho hum, these things happen, they say”, “all young people go through a stage of lapsing, they’ll come back when they are ready”.
Will they? So many souls? Without a solid foundation? It is perfectly possible that Richard Dawkins and his ilk will “come home”, after all. But make no mistake. This is not the inevitable lapsing of some people, this is the massive, massive loss of God’s precious souls, entrusted to us a parish, and we have fundamentally failed them. ****failed them.
I find it very difficult to have a conversation at the best of times. I lack certain basic skills such as eye contact, and subtleties. The thought of going to see you is overwhelming. But this week in particular, it has become very clear that I CAN NO LONGER REMAIN SILENT. The haemorrhage of souls has been too great. This parish has and still is failing to raise people of faith.
My biggest fear is that you will dismiss this as something all young people need to do (lapse), rather than the mass exodus of souls. Please don’t tell me that the past is the past, and my dear friends’ souls are not worth fighting for.