Pastor's Letter - March 31, 2019

The last three weeks I have written about the Sacrament of Baptism. Today I would like to conclude with some comments on the rights and responsibilities of parents. Parents have the right to have their child baptized in the Church. In fact, Christian parents have the duty to see that their child is baptized. Parents should contact the parish well before the expected birth of their child in order to arrange for participation in baptism classes and to set a baptism date. When a child is born the parents assume a natural responsibility to care for its physical needs. When they have their child baptized the parents assume a supernatural responsibility to care for its spiritual needs. The baptism of their child does not conclude their responsibilities – it begins them! The Church insists that parents are the first and most important teachers of their own children, especially in matters of the Faith. Catholic schools and religious education programs exist to assist parents – not to replace them. Therefore, it is the parents’ right to direct the religious education of their children. This properly begins even before school age. Common Catholic prayers – the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, Hail Mary, Blessing before and after meals, and others – can be learned at home even before a child starts school. In addition to formal instruction, parents teach their children by their own good example. Family life must include faithful participation at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, frequent reception of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance (Confession), an active prayer life enriched by devotions, and a life characterized by Christian charity. In this way a child will be formed both in mind and in heart. And, whether a child is in a Catholic school, in private or public school or home-schooled, parents must take an active interest in the formal religious instruction of their children. It is the responsibility of all pastors (including me!) to insure that our Catholic schools and religious education programs truly assist parents in this mission: to hand on the whole of our Catholic Faith to our young people.

May God bless you! Fr. Schaller