Friday, April 13, 2012

Optimistically called Faith Formation

When I was young, Sunday school was called CCD. None of us children knew what it meant, but we knew it was religion class for kids who went to public schools. (Turns out it stood for Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine; doesn't that just roll of the tongue?) Apparently the Powers That Be decided CCD wasn't an appropriate name, perhaps because those in it didn't understand it. So they changed the name to Religious Education. That was fine. Simple, straightforward, accurate.


Of course it couldn't stay that way. I don't know if a mission statement was updated or someone just decided we needed to change the name to prove we're contemporary, but the name was changed once again. Now it is called Children's Faith Formation. (There are also adult and family faith formation programs.)

I asked my third graders recently why they come to Sunday school. Not why they should come, but why do they actually come. The answers ranged from "I have to" to "my parents want to go grocery shopping" to "I like Peter" (my son, not the Apostle) to a few "I want to learn about God." I then asked them why do they think I want them to come to Sunday school. General consensus was that I want them to learn about God.

I agreed, but told them it's much more than that. I can teach them Bible stories, Church teachings, and how to pray. I can give them written quizzes and ask questions during our trivia games to determine if they've learned the Beatitudes and how to be a Christian in daily life. But all of that is secondary.

I want them to have faith. And I can't teach that.

Knowledge and understanding can water the seeds of faith, but they are not faith. I can show them my own love for God and try to pass along God's love for them, but I cannot give them faith. Faith is an individual's response to God. I pray that our program can live up to its name, while knowing that all of our formation amounts to nothing without faith first being present.


  1. Brilliant post.

    When we get to meet St Peter he will not check whether we attended CCD, RE or Faith Formation. He will not check either whether our knees are callous through endless hours in prayer. I suspect he'll check whether we have true Faith in action.

    God bless.

    1. Thank you. Good to have companions on this journey.