How would you complete this sentence: “I’m a___________ Catholic.”

Cradle, convert, revert? Practicing, devout, serious? Perhaps cafeteria, cultural or C&E (Christmas & Easter)? Fallen away, lapsed, collapsed, relapsed?

In an organization of one billion worldwide, there are bound to be varying levels of interest and commitment among members. Which makes me wonder: What kind of Catholics are we raising?

If my kids, now ages 7 and 4, are anything like me they could be “temporarily lapsed, former C&E (give or take a feast day), happy-to-now-be-practicing, cradle Catholics” when they’re adults. However what I’m shooting for—along with my fellow Catholic moms, no doubt—are “happily practicing, on-fire, lifelong Catholics.”

Am I setting the bar too high? I don’t think so.

A 2009 study showed one in 10 American adults describe themselves as a former Catholic. Nearly half said they left the Church before they turned 24, and the reason most cited was that they “gradually drifted away.” That’s disheartening for anyone who loves the Church and downright daunting for parents.

The survey pointed out key differences between former Catholics and lifelong Catholics in their level of religious commitment between ages 13 and 18. Former Catholics were less likely to have attended Mass regularly, or to have had strong faith as teenagers. (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making Sunday Mass non-negotiable all those years.)

While I can’t control the spiritual journey of my children, here are some things I can work on to help influence the journey to “happily practicing, on-fire, lifelong Catholic” adulthood:

  1. Live as a faithful Catholic myself: keeping in mind that little eyes are always watching and little ears are always listening.
  2. Teach them about the faith: not just what we do as Catholics, but why.
  3. Encourage questions and provide answers: not pretending to know all the answers, but knowing where to find them.
  4. Help them get involved: there are countless opportunities to get involved spiritually, socially and service-wise.
  5. Pray: Think St. Monica.
  6. Be patient and loving: See #’s 1-5. Patience and love should come in handy for all of the above!

Read more on parenting faith in the Denver Catholic Register here and here

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS: “I’m a ______________ Catholic” OR “I’m trying to raise ______________ Catholics.”

Copyright 2011 Julie Filby