This weekend we celebrate the Sacrament of
Confirmation with our young people and their
It is a privilege to be the pastor of this
wonderful parish community and a distinct
honor to be trusted to guide the faith
formation of the young people.
All of our religious education and faith
formation programs evolve though the minds
and hearts and lives of many people, we try
very hard to make our programs humanly
attractive, in the first instance, so that
they invite willing participation
appreciating the depth and breadth of Roman
Most, if not all, of our kids come with
smiles and leave with smiles, we want them
to feel goodness, truth, and beauty in the
process of forming their faith and not just
give them information.
Our programs are not based on apologetics,
we don’t give our young people answers to
questions that they do not ask, however, we
do try and make them curious and
We do not try to “arm” our children with
“correct ideas” and expect them to fight a
world of falsehood and hostile values,
rather, we try to expose them to the
mysterious ways that God is revealed,
especially, though sharing food and drink,
imaginative play, music, art, and a hands-on
familiarity with the earth and what can grow
from the earth.
We try to break open God’s word with
vitality and not confine the Biblical text
to the past but a living present.
I hope that what we do give them is a
healthy skepticism about what people tell
them is God’s will or God’s plan and a deep
appreciation for sensing the sacred in their
own lives and the workings of the world, a
trust in their own intuition.
The terribly short sighted decision years
ago in Chicago and other large Catholic
cities in our country to move Confirmation
to the eighth grade of elementary school in
an attempt to save Catholic schools was as
much a disaster to the Catholic Church’s
credibility in a rapidly evolving Western
culture as was the encyclical Humanae Vitae.
We don’t teach that morality or dogma or
interpretation of the Bible is subject to
popular vote, but we do teach that morality
and dogma and interpretation of the Bible
has to be based on sound scholarship and
informed judgment that is reasonable and
based in reality.
We adhere to the historical principle of
Roman Catholicism that grace builds on
nature and faith has to be reasonable.
If a fraction of the energy and money poured
into trying to save Catholic schools had
been invested in Biblical, catechetical, and
theological reflection and investigation, I
suspect the Church would be more engaging in
accompanying all people, but especially the
young, as the world evolves, and the Spirit
The Catholic Church deeply rooted in
Catholic Tradition, historically, has been a
source of inspiration in driving the human
imagination to ever more creative and
important efforts to establish communities
that fostered human flourishing with joy,
justice, peace, and mercy in spite of the
fallible nature of the Church.
Since that Great Sadness came upon the
Church with John Paul II and Benedict XVI
much of the official Catholic imagination
has been pre-occupied with preserving a
Medieval world view and obsessed with
maintaining clericalism and the gatekeeper
role of the clergy in Catholic Church faith
The tension generated by this kind of
thinking leaves little space for the
creative imaginations and desire to serve
that young people bring to their adolescent
and emerging adult lives.
There is ample serious data available to
indicate that young Catholics, with few
fanatical exceptions, have no interest in
condemning their peers as they assume
personal authority for their own lives in
“spiritual” and sexual matters.
I am very confident that the Catholic Church
is still guided by the Holy Spirit and I am
hopeful that, in time, there will be a
reconciliation of minds and hearts and that
the Catholic Tradition will not be confined
to select sectors characterized by economic,
racial, and ideological sameness.
SUMMER SCHOOL OF ADULT FAITH FORMATION
On Tuesday afternoons and evening in the
month of June, I will offer opportunities
for anyone who would like to join me, to
discuss Catholic Tradition in the light of
the present day.
I think it would be interesting and helpful
for us to consider traditional themes of
Catholic moral and doctrinal teaching with
recognized sources that are thinking and
Conventionally thinking, Catholics look at
children as the ones who need to be taught
Roman Catholicism but we are living in times
of unprecedented change and access to
information and means of communication, how
can what you learned 30 or 40 years ago be
workable in these times?
So, I invite you to just come and listen and
talk as you see appropriate. I will provide
handouts and reference sources that you can
use should you choose to.
June 5, 12, 18, and 26 from 1:30-3:00 in the
afternoon and 6:30-8:00 in the evening.
All are welcome!!