A ‘Sunday school’ model of catechesis could play a key role in helping parishes raise young people in the Faith, Limerick’s Bishop Brendan Leahy has said.
The bishop told The Irish Catholic that while good work has been done in the Irish Church since the introduction five years ago of ‘Share the Good News’, the Church’s plan for promoting catechesis, evangelisation, and religious education, much remains to be done.
“We need creative explorations for how this could happen,” he said, adding that current programmes to help children, parents, and the wider parish community prepare for First Holy Communion could be rolled out further.
“What we have at the moment is the programme ‘Do This in Memory’, and that has proved quite successful in parishes,” he said, continuing, “I think that shows us something of the direction we should be moving in, but I think we could expand that a little more.”
Calling for a more collaborative approach to lifelong catechesis, with adult catechesis being more integral to parish activities, the bishop acknowledged that while parish priests are often overstretched, “there has to be space somewhere for a new beginning for the parish to take ownership of transmitting the Faith to young people in a lively manner as a community.”
One possibility, the bishop said, was to have activities taking place alongside the Mass where children could be taken out during the Liturgy of Word to explore stories from the Bible, as some parishes already do.
Pointing that he was using the term ‘Sunday school’ as it’s a term with which people are familiar, he speculated that this might allow children to engage a bit more both with the Gospels and with parish life in a more lively and interactive fashion than is possible in Mass.
“There was a time about 50 years ago when you’d go to a parish school in a parish community, and it was very clear that it was one and the same thing,” he said, continuing, “that isn’t so clear now, and we need to help the community side of the parish be visible or be experienced.”