Know where you are going...get there early...and pray for courage! Rules I try to abide by when out in the field, and yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day with Catholic school teachers and religious education parish volunteers. My assignment was Course 101, the opening instructional day in the training and certification of our catechists and Catholic school teachers. I generally do not identify places and people on the blog, but I will tell you I was in Volusia County, FL, which has the highest incidence of shark bites in the world. Yesterday a number of very dedicated church folks, weighing the option of the Captain Quint route from "Jaws" or listening to me all day, chose the latter. And for those who have had me before, that is a very difficult decision.
I very much enjoyed yesterday's class. I liked them even better after I read their evaluations, for in their enthusiasm they overlooked my egregious short-changing of the Church documents in the curriculum. (At least I provided the internet links.) There were a number of issues raised that I haven't really addressed in the blog, and for an example I will quote one of the evaluations here: "...students come from such varied backgrounds....classroom discussions are uncomfortable or emotional because some students' comments or questions come from a very conservative family perspective while others come...from a more liberal interpretation of their faith...that is tricky!"
Indeed it is, and I sometimes refer to this as the "Red State/Blue State" problem in Catholic formation. and if it is any consolation, this unfortunate division exists at every level of the Church: parish, diocese, seminary, academic, publishing. It is not particularly new though the names of the division change through the centuries. In the 1800's, those who advocated a strong papacy, who favored papal infallibility, for example, were called ultramontanes or ultramontanists, that is, those on the "other side of the Alps," specifically Italy. Intellectual Catholics on the other side of the mountain in England or France were called, well, a lot of things. In my parents' day Catholics were deeply divided over Franklin Roosevelt and later the communist scare or Joe McCarthy, himself a Catholic and graduate of Marquette University. I know that into the 21st century my parents were saying the fifth decade of the rosary every night for President Roosevelt. My Blue State parents!
Many of your questions really deserve better responses than I can provide this afternoon, so I have made some notes for future entries. Among them are the Red State/Blue State divide mentioned above, the issue of what to do if you are pressed into emergency service as a school religion teacher when those inevitable reshuffles occur; what if your class is primarily non-Catholic; is there an "emergency web site" for new religion teachers; what are the best Biblical commentaries; and several others.
I would like to add that our hospitality yesterday was excellent: from outdoor signage to comfortable seating to good food and hot coffee, Black cherry yogurt! Hospitality is one of the biggest assets to ministry and evangelization. I am very grateful to the parish officer who provided our hospitality yesterday; a job well done!
Finally, for Diocese of Orlando readers, here is the website for the September 19, 2015 Faith Celebration Day at Bishop Moore High School as I promised yesterday. I am scheduled to present twice, on teaching the Crusades and teaching the Resurrection Narratives. But don't let that stop you.
On My Mind