This is an alarming statement – adding another level of responsibility on schools, especially in today’s society. But Catholic schools can and should influence Mass attendance! As we know today, many Catholic school students aren’t experiencing the Church as a family unit. Let’s consider why, and offer some solutions.
Data confirms that members of a family often attend Mass separately due to activities, participating in different types of catechesis or religious ed, or some members of the family don’t participate in any part of the parish at all. However, families today are engaged through the Catholic School, presenting a unique opportunity to become centers of community and formation for the whole family. That’s where schools can impact Mass attendance.
At Duc In Altum (DIA) Schools Collaborative, we work with schools to infuse the faith and be beacons of light for the future of our Church. The Catholic school superintendents, administrators, teachers and campus ministers we serve are well aware of dwindling Mass attendance. But DIA was founded to support those leaders seeking to “go out into the deep” and minister to faithfully Catholic education.
DIA Schools Collaborative’s mission was founded with the intention for members to share the collective wisdom and resources of our like-minded, faith-filled peers for the growth and support of passionately Catholic education at-large, and the transformation of the culture of our society. Two of DIA’s core beliefs especially address the need to help form the family:
- We are schools who maintain that the ongoing spiritual formation of students, parents, faculty, and staff alike is at the heart of the work we are called to do as Catholic schools.
- We are schools that believe parents are the primary educators and, as such, must be fully supported in their efforts to provide an integral formation to their children.
Pope Francis (paraphrasing) stated that schools do not replace parents, they complement them. How? Unity. Being united with parents transforms the community, and this is where schools can evangelize. Students take that home and are, often unknowingly, missionary disciples to the rest of the family. Central to the school’s service to family is the ongoing spiritual and intellectual formation of all constituents. Through various types of student formation, families are motivated to engage.
8 Creative Ways Catholic Schools Evangelize Students And Parents
Some creative examples of Catholic schools evangelizing students and parents include:
1. Traveling statue of Blessed Virgin Mary and a Rosary box: Each family in a grade hosts the statue and prays the Rosary for one week of the school year. They pray the Rosary together, led by the student, and they learn more about Mary. This activity allows the family to experience that grace of the Virgin Mother through the pride of the host child.
2. Using First Fridays to create recognition of a class: Create a reward (certificate, lapel pin) for students participating in First Friday liturgies. Of course, some First Fridays land during school vacation, so the students will compel parents to take them to that Mass.
3. Host student-led community Adoration on a weeknight. Families will inevitably participate when their student is involved. Time in front of the Eucharist can be the incentive for adults to be more diligent with Mass attendance.
4. Parent learning opportunities: Parents love to learn alongside their child. A faculty member could offer an adult-level short course, usually in the evening or during breakfast, on something that they’re already teaching to the students.
5. Clergy on campus: When Priest(s) and/or Sisters are part of daily life on a school campus, families and students are open to the faith through relationship-building opportunities. It also enhances vocations.
6. Host father/son or mother/daughter retreats: These could be evening events or short weekend afternoon opportunities to gather in community. Building familial relationships at these types of events enhances the school community.
7. Designate a few daily Masses for father/daughter or mother/son attendance: publicize the dates on the annual school calendar and in school newsletters, and provide snacks afterwards to encourage casual networking.
As Canon Law states, Catholic schools are not just a vehicle for learning, but also a faith community with a responsibility for evangelization. DIA Schools Collaborative is committed to embracing this opportunity to influence the future of our Church, and help make schools a “furnace of evangelization.”
Learn more about evangelization in Catholic schools on the DIA Schools Collabortive Podcasts!
Is your school a DIA Schools Collaborative member? For membership information, go to https://diaschools.org/members/. Membership rates are prorated for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year!