As we approach the beginning of our kids’ formal religious ed, this was of special interest to me.
The Lyons family of Chicago is not one of those overscheduled American families with a color-coded calendar to keep all their appointments and activities straight. But with two parents employed full-time outside the home and three children ages 6, 9 and 11, juggling music lessons, school projects and other activities isn’t easy.
Which is why Chrissy Lyons is grateful her parish offers a religious education schedule that works for her family.
In fact, the creative scheduling at Old St. Patrick’s Parish is one reason the Lyonses chose that parish when they returned to Catholicism after worshiping at a Methodist church for a year.
“We were really struggling to find a place where we fit in,” said Lyons, whose husband, Chad, is Lutheran. “We loved the Methodist church, but I missed the ritual and tradition of the Mass. And I didn’t think the religious education program was very strong.”
Because the kids attended Sunday school during the Methodist service, Lyons thought they missed out on the connection between class and liturgy. At Old St. Pat’s, religious education classes follow a twice-monthly 9:30 a.m. family Mass. Once a month lectures or workshops for parents help them develop the theme at home.
“I love their schedule,” Lyons said. “If it were on a weeknight, it would be one more place to get to. Now it’s part of our Sunday tradition. It’s what we do.”
Of course, for every family that prefers a Sunday schedule, there’s another for whom it’s a conflict. What’s a DRE to do? Many directors of religious education have gotten creative with scheduling, not only to satisfy parents but also to consider volunteers’ and priests’ availability, not to mention parking and other space issues. On top of that, they’re trying to teach parents that faith formation is as important as football.
Read the rest of my story in the National Catholic Reporter here.