Share this story


How do I raise my child to be a good Catholic?

And whose job is it?

A few years ago, a PBS show, Mixed Blessings, followed the closing of Sacred Heart Parish in Limerick, Ireland. At the time, its pastor said, “We have experienced in Ireland a kind of cultural tsunami that has washed over so many of the old ways in which people have found God in their lives.”

Have you, like many others, assumed your parish would always be there, unchanging? Have you relied on the parish school or religious education program to take care of faith formation for your child? In the face of change, it may be time to ask, or re-ask, yourself, “How do I raise my child in the faith?”

The domestic church

Raising a child in the faith begins at home. The catechism says, “The family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.” (CCC #1666) So what are your responsibilities?

• Baptism It’s not just about scheduling the ceremony. When selecting godparents, you choose individuals who are “firm believers” (CCC #1255) who join your family in a spiritual sense to help the child grow in faith.

• Family prayer Do you truly give thanks that you are blessed with enough food, or is grace simply a routine? After Mass on Sunday, discuss the readings or homily.

• Go to Mass! You can’t discuss those readings if you haven’t heard them. This is our primary obligation – and a wonderful spiritual gift to all of us. The family of Christ is nourished through the Eucharist.

• Enroll your child in Catholic school or religious education They’ll need some formal instruction, particularly to prepare for sacraments, and the parish is the place to find it. This is also a great way for your children to find friends who also value the importance of faith. Don’t forget to continue after confirmation!

The parish community

It would be a heavy burden for parents to accomplish all this on their own and the church recognizes this: “The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at baptism.” (CCC #1255)

So what is the parish community’s responsibility?

• Providing faith formation The parish is obligated to provide for faith formation, preparation and administration of the sacraments. Newly clustered parishes may have enough resources to expand programming.

The parishioners at Sacred Heart in Limerick summed it up: “The Lord never promises us a squall-free journey but he always walks by our side.