“Many of the dioceses now resort to cutsy, new age teaching methods” and I might add, devoid of meaningful content; I looked in on that at our church about 15 years ago and was appalled. I’m still at the church, but I’ve not looked in again on the education dept. (Sigh)
6 years ago, the pastor of my former RC parish asked me to assist by teaching one of the Confirmation groups. At the time, my daughter was enrolled in this grade 11 preparation program, and I was truly humbled by the request. He directed me to the DRE who provided the Instructor's manual for the parish approved catechetical program. It was all new age. Chapter 1 advises the instructor to bring the following items on the first night of class: a large rock, small smooth stones (one for each student), a boom box, mood music, pillar candles, paper, markers, pencils .... the last item was a Bible. I brought the Bible, a Rosary and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel (one for each student) - period. Two weeks later, the DRE popped her head in during class, asking for volunteers to perform a liturgical dance for the Feast of St. Lucy. My jaw dropped!
It was all downhill from there. Long story short, I provided the DRE and the pastor with copies of the 1975 NCCB document banning liturgical dance in the US. The pastor tried to cajole me by suggesting that I think of it as "liturgical movement". I told him that according to Webster's dictionary, movement set to music is called dance, and waved the 1975 NCCB document in his face. Undaunted, he proceded with his plan and I pursued it with the diocese. The Diocesan Office for Liturgy and Divine Worship backed the pastor's term: "liturgical movement" and cited some arcane VCII document on multi-culturism. Non-plused, I returned the salvo, this time quoting from Sacrosanctum Concilium and Canon Law which states: 'Every Catholic is entitled to a valid Mass'. That was the end of the liturgical dance program at our parish.
With my Confirmation students, I adjusted each week's curriculum to fit a more orthodox model. When it came time to select their Confirmation names, I pointed them to a web site that listed saints going all the way back to the 1st century. I had them research the saints and identify with one, then write a report to share with the others in the class. Of the 6 groups preparing for Confirmation that year, mine was the only one where every student chose a saint's name for Confirmation.
I left that parish 4 years ago and joined a Maronite Catholic parish. Last year, the pastor asked me to take on the responsibility of directing the religious education program. With limited experience, at least I knew which Catholic publishing houses to avoid and chose Ignatius Press for our program. Judging from the feedback, it was a huge success. With only 15 classes throughout the entire year, it is a tremendous challenge to keep all of the kids and parents on track. To do this, I just sent home a letter with a recommended list of Catholic books, by grade level, to keep the children focused during the summer months. The letter also advised the parents that in November, to counteract the degenerated festival known as Halloween, our parish children will participate in a Parade of Saints on the Feast of All Saints. The letter offered pictures of small children dressed up like Sts. Francis and George and as an Archangel, along with a web site where they can purchase saintly costumes. This gives the kids and parents ample time to read through the lives of the saints, select one they like, make or buy a costume and remain connected to their Catholic faith.
As a concerned parent, I would strongly encourage you to volunteer your time to teach one of the classes at your local parish. Children need serious and sincere guidance; who better than you?! Get involved! Touch lives and make a difference. Most importantly, pray for these children - they are the future of our Church!