Bulletins (Please scroll to the bottom of the page for this week's and past weeks' bulletins.)

As Religious Education and our schools are coming to the end of the academic year, we take some time to evaluate the effectiveness of our parish faith formation. Some initiatives were very successful, and others need some tweaking over the summer months. I am grateful to all those who work to impart the faith to the next generation.

Having worked with many different models of faith formation over the years, I do know that some models are more effective than others, and some that work in one location won't be successful in another. I do know that the most consistent predictors of future faithfulness are parents who practice the faith with their children. Even the very best parish program can only build on what the children bring from home.

I often say that the faith is “caught” as it is passed from one generation to the next. In religious education, we provide a vocabulary for the children to identify their faith experience. We try to impart the Tradition of the Church in regard to Jesus, the sacraments, and the moral life. We do this at an age-appropriate level with the hope that our young people will continue to grow in their faith long after they have moved along in their next phases of life.

All of this comes with a plea to parents. 1.) Do pray with your children each day, 2.) make sure they participate at Mass each weekend, and 3.) teach them right from wrong. If you accomplish these three tasks, your children will know the path. They may wander from time to time, but they will know where to get back on the path after they have strayed.

Recently someone forwarded me an article describing what's wrong with the Church these days. This particular author laid the whole issue at the feet of inadequate faith formation that reduces the whole of Christian revelation to “being nice.” I suppose the author does have a point, but I think his analysis is entirely inadequate.

First of all, there's nothing wrong with being nice. Our world could use a little more emphasis on being nice as an ordinary manner of human interaction. With public discourse often at a high pitch, we could use some lessons in civility, or being nice.

Secondly, our Church exists in a culture in a particular time of history. We do not exist in a vacuum where we are never impacted by the world around us. We always hope that the Church assists the Spirit in penetrating the culture and bring redemption to the world. But at the same time, the Church is sometimes swept away by cultural shifts. The Church and the surrounding culture always live in tension.

The culture in which we live is a very powerful force for better or for ill. At one time, culture shifts happened slowly over time. Today, with increased communication, culture shifts happen more rapidly and sometimes with greater force. As followers of Jesus, it is always our task to discern the value of new trends and try to stand where Jesus would stand. Jesus did not leave a rulebook for every occasion, but He did promise the Holy Spirit Who will guide us to all truth.

I reminded of what a retreat director told us one year. "Whoever marries the spirit of the age will soon be a widow."

As we try to navigate through these confusing times, it is good to study the Scriptures and the catechism and to pray for wise discernment. There really is more to being a Christian than being nice.

I'm grateful to all those who have volunteered to help with Vacation Bible School and the many who have already registered. VBS promises to be a really energetic program and another way for children to be enriched in the life of the Church.

Finance Report: As we come to the final two months of the fiscal year, we are currently within our budgeted income for the year and we hope to maintain this position. Sometimes May and June are months when people tend to leave town more often, and our weekend crowds are on the light side. We are always grateful to those people who remember their parish at home even when they are praying elsewhere. With just a little more push, we will achieve our fiscal year goals. Last weekend we received $6,673 in the offertory collection. Thanks so very much for your generosity.

A Stewardship Testimonial: "I have often discovered that the more I give of myself, the more I receive."

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