Now I will receive some ribbing from my partner for this blog, but that’s ok, I’ll take it.
Over the weekend we held our 6th grade retreat “Becoming: Active” and the overall lesson was we must take ownership of our faith, make it ours and be active in it. Just showing up at Church or formation classes is not enough, we must be actively involved. That activeness can take many forms from volunteering at the Church to just sharing your faith to others at work or school. For adults it’s a little easier to do, we can drive ourselves to and from events join bible studies or even start one if we so choose. Now for 11 year olds, the task is a bit harder, they don’t have the freedom to drive themselves, nor can they always choose what groups they wish to join.
But the differences don’t stop there. If we look at how the Church herself is set up, we see that that also is a factor. Once again as adults we have the upper hand. We are the ones who put the envelope in the collection basket each week, we are the ones on parish council and we run all the programs available for our parish. To an eleven year old that means they have no voice, they have no ownership of the Church they belong to. They are basically looked at as parasites; they take, but give nothing. Whereas the adults are looked at as the bank, the ones who pay all the bills, therefore they get all the attention.
What an injustice, and a loss for r our Church. Now I know not all Catholic Churches are this way, that some actually see the value in the youth of that parish. But it is more the norm then not.
We can kind of equate it to stock holders. They run the company; they expect a dividend returned to them for their investment. And it seems the more money you give to the Church; the more you are given, how un-Jesus like!
But if we stop and think about it, we all are share holders in the Catholic Church; we all own stock and have a voice.
This was one of the lessons we taught at our retreat. Now I have to confess what follows was the Holy Spirit working through me, but it is an awesome lesson, one that every Catholic Parish needs to hear.
In our baptism we were given our share of the Church, each o ne one of us has the office stock certificate to prove it, our Baptism certificate, our one share of ownership.
What is extremely cool about this is that no one owns more than anyone else, you cannot be baptized in to the Church more than once, so no one owns a majority share. The Catholic Church is equally owned by all, and we all have a voice, young and old alike!
I put a challenge to the kids, I asked them to find there baptismal certificate and to frame it and display it in their bed rooms as a reminder that they have a voice, that the Church is theirs as well as their parents.
What power they truly have, and how sad that the human nature of the Church fails to see it. Jesus did not establish an adults only Church, in fact Jesus established a Universal Church, one that everyone is welcomed to join, the young and old alike.
We as Catholic, we as Church need to remind ourselves of that, we need to find our baptismal stock and have it framed and displayed in a prominent place in our home or office. We need to remind ourselves that we have ownership of the Church that the Church is not here to serve the adults of the parish, but also the youth.
It is not and never should be one over the other, the Church needs to serve all, not just some. The youth should not suffer because of the adults and the adults should not suffer because of the youth.
STATIC, the company that my partner and I own, is dedicated to that purpose. Yes we are developing a middle school youth formation program (in truth it is so much more than that) but our program calls on the whole community to invest (or should I say reinvest) in the youth, and we call the youth to invest in to the community as a whole. We cannot survive if we only ask for a small percentage of our stock holders to reinvest in to the Church. For the Church to survive in to the next century, we need to ask our youngest stock holders to become active in the process, and we as the adults of the Church must in return invest in them.
The youth need to hear that they have a voice, and we need to hear that voice.