Saturday, November 04, 2006

Just another day at the office

As my URL indicates, I am a DRE (director of religious Education) at my parish. I started this blog intending to write more about work, but it didn't really evolve that way, but that explains the URL.

Anyway, tonight I am going to post about work because I have to admit I'm a little mystified about something and maybe some of you good folks can help me. This post is 100% snark-free. I genuinely can't understand this.

Last year, a few weeks before First Communion, two of our five First Communion Catechists told me the kids weren't going to church and as a result didn't know the responses during Mass. Nor did most of them remember the basic prayers of our faith that they learned in the first grade. So, it being six weeks before First Communion, we instituted a policy where all of the First Communicants would have to go to Mass and have a bulletin signed by the presiding priest each week before First Communion. Parental grumbling happened, but, no big surprise here, the kids really improved overall in their knowledge of what happens at Mass and they could remember their prayers.

Since, from our point of view, this experiment was such a huge success we made it a year long thing for both the First Communicants and the Confirmation candidates. At first we were going to require that the bulletins get signed, but then our priests pointed out that they would be signing bulletins for half an hour after each Mass since we hve 250 kids who would have to do this. So, early in the year, we required only that the kids turn in a bulletin as proof that they attended Mass.

Here is where I am genuinely mystified: Both times, I heard from a few parents who were very angry and insulted at having to get these bulletins signed. These parents who contacted me are regular churchgoers who said that they didn't feel like they had to prove anything to us as a parish about Mass attendance. I had one mom this past summer say that she wanted to pull her kids out of our religious ed program (that they've been in for 8 years) because she was so insulted. She said that this was a policy that made the parish very unwelcoming to her.

I just don't understand it. I thought that the people who would be the most upset would be those who weren't going to Mass regularly. I wasn't asking that much more of those who were there anyway, just that they stop by and see Father before they went home. I just can't understand how they could have been insulted by this. I hope some of you can explain this to me becuase I really do WANT to understand where they're coming from. The lady who threatened to leave didn't leave, btw, but I haven't spoken to her about it since she emailed me in August while I was on maternity leave and I read her email on All Saints' Day. Another thing, now that I have read her email, should I reply, even though it is more than 2 months later? I'd like to apologize for insulting her, but I'm not sure if I should leave well enough alone in this case.

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