Children throughout the Archdiocese hit the books again this week as schools began the fall term. Students in Catholic high schools, grade schools or parish religious education programs (PREP/CCD) need to remember the Catholic identity of their education, and themselves.

The brand new Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford has already seen publicity in local media touting the school’s amenities such as top-notch academic and sports facilities and abundant technology resources. Parents of the more than 900 enrolled students will note the religious education component that the school shares with the other 17 archdiocesan Catholic high schools. Students study the Church’s sacraments, God’s fonts of grace for the world. They learn about the sanctity of human life, love and marriage. They gain an understanding of the Church’s teachings on morality and social justice. They learn from the faithful witness of their schools’ faculty and staff.{{more}}

If these Catholic teenagers are to take their place in the Church and society as maturing Christian disciples, they must live what they are learning by regularly practicing their faith through participation at Mass and by living upright lives. They’ll find that means sometimes going against the grain of popular culture, which includes indifference to regular church attendance. For this young people need the support of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Teens like to go places, and they like to drive. To put these desires to work, parents can encourage their teens who drive to get behind the wheel and take the family to church, and to pick up a Catholic friend along the way.

Children attending a traditional Catholic neighborhood parish school, regional Catholic school or PREP also must live their Catholic faith beyond the classroom. Since most children can’t make it to church for Mass themselves, it’s up to adults to take them.

Pastors know that, sadly, some parents only take their family to Church rarely, if ever. Parents who do attend Mass with their children can encourage their little one to invite a friend in their school or PREP class to come along with their family (after getting a parent’s permission), to attend Sunday Mass together.

Children like to be together. Helping them link what they are learning Monday to Friday with what they ought to do on Sunday will strengthen the Catholic identity that is theirs through baptism and confirmation. The sacrifices parents make for their children’s education are just as important as the commitment of time each Sunday for Mass together.