Illuminator - October-December 1997
CHILDREN & FAITH
By Phyllis Meshel Onest, Diocesan Religious Education Director
Recently I read articles in both the "Hellenic Chronicle" and a letter to the editor of the local newspaper that spoke of the value of religious education. I believe that together they offer much "food for thought." What do you think?
"How Much Does Your Church School Cost?" [Hellenic Chronicle 11/19/97, originally in St. Demetrios Newsletter, Weston, MA]
"A little boy visited Church School for the first time, liked it and wanted to return. Fearful that the family could not afford it and before she sent him again, his mother called the church and asked, 'How much does your Church School cost?'
"Before determining the cost of church school, let's think of its worth. How much is it worth to have the direction of the lives of boys and girls and young people changed through Christian education? How much is it worth to instill in them the basic values, and principles: human dignity, right and wrong, each measured by the only authentic and dependable way - God's divinely inspired Word?
"How much is it worth to see young people diverted from juvenile delinquency to Christian citizenship? Why did a famous judge say that those brought up in Church School seldom are brought up in court? Because he knew its worth.
"The education available in Church School is unique. It is no longer offered in public schools in any degree. It is less and less offered in homes. Society is turning away from, rather than toward, spiritual principles. Despite these facts, Church Schools remain the strongest bulwark in our nation against evil and destruction.
"How much is it worth to our community? How much is it worth to our church? How much is it worth to our children? When you determine its worth, then, and only then, figure the cost. You will realize that whatever Church School costs, it is America's biggest bargain."
"Faith May Be Best Gift to Give One's Children" [Akron Beacon Journal, 11/27/97]
"The editorial page is the first place I turn when my Beacon Journal arrives.... As I continue to read it seems to me that religion is taking a serious hit from all sides. At one time in this country, it was important to belong to some house of worship, and now everything about religion is being questioned.
"Those of us belonging to an organized religion do better in school, are less apt to drop out and are likelier to get a higher education and a higher-paying job. We are less apt to use drugs and alcohol, have teen pregnancies, get divorced, break the law and spend time in jail. We handle stress better and even heal better after illness and operations.
"Therefore, my logical mind tells me that people are flocking to houses of worship. Wrong. They are not, especially among mainline congregations. Young adults, even some raised with faith, have chosen to ignore it in their family lives. They are keeping their bodies more physically fit and ignoring their spirituality. Our souls need to be nourished just like the rest of us.
"Talk to most young parents and they want to provide the best of everything for their children. Many of these children have every gadget money can buy and they still want more. Giving them faith might be the most important gift they could receive, and it wouldn't deplete their parents' checkbook.
"So why have 'God,' 'church' and 'religion' become dirty words? I would love an informed answer. A.C. from Cuyahoga Falls, OH"