Sunday, 5 May 2013

Simon of Cyrene group in Trinidad offer a solution for dwindling catholic numbers

In the Port of Spain Catholic news of may 5th 2013 there is a letter from the Simon of Cyrene group that seeks to address the issue of why there is a constant decline in the membership of the catholic church.

I would like to applaud their effort. Good job guys.

I would like to suggest something else too -  there should be a sounding board for disgruntled Catholics, where the church could address issues. Too many good catholics have stopped serving because they have come into conflict with priests, or other religious. While a letter to the archbishop could assist, and has in the past, the pained members almost always feels that it is the Bishops priests, not the people's church.  - and maybe it is so. The Catholic news editorial section does not allow for such venting. For example there is a very popular priest who is racist and very arrogant. He needs to understand that such behaviour is unacceptable - the youth of today will look at him as a bad example of the church and think that they can do nothing about such things and then just STOP being an active catholic.So our membership dwindles and we wonder why.

Here is the letter from the Simon of Cyrene group:

DEAR EDITOR, Every time a census is done, the results reveal a declining Catholic Church and there is the usual alarm and exclamations of shock. The local archdiocese has done a lot to address this issue and must take credit for the fact that the decline over the last ten years was less than the period before. However, a lot still has to be done. 

The main reason why people leave the Church is because of a lack of knowledge –not knowing why the Church does the things it does, in the way in which it does it.

To address this, the Church must not only continue its faith-based programmes but must step it up by several notches. This can be done by:

1. ensuring that all catechists are properly trained in the faith – they are to teach the faith, not their own opinions. They should be able to give the scriptural and historical reasons why the Church does what it does and teaches what it teaches.

2. reviewing the curricula for First Communion, Confirmation and RCIA. Today’s youth want answers. It is not like long ago when they would just accept what they were told as truth. Thirty years ago, the information base and style of the Penny Catechism were sufficient. Not so today. The curricula must answer the question WHY? This is how contemporary society learns – by understanding WHY. Criticism of the Confirmation and RCIA programmes from participants includes that it is too long and drawn out and that far too many catechists cannot give the scriptural reasons for the Church’s teachings.

3. providing an opportunity for Catholics to exercise their faith. The Church is bleeding most heavily in the 17-35 age group. This is the tech savvy, high energy group which has usually not yet started a family. The Church should limit all parish leadership positions to a maximum three-year cycle because the 17-35-year-olds go to other churches where they are given something to do and made to feel appreciated.

We at the Simon of Cyrene group have been attempting to provide a solution for 1 and 2 above. We have been preparing, printing and distributing pamphlets for our Know Your Faith ministry (under the auspices of the Association of Catholic Men’s Groups) addressing some of the most commonly questioned areas of the Catholic faith. Some of these are:
  • Why do Catholics believe Jesus is really present in the bread and wine of the communion?
  • Why is the Pope the earthly head of the Catholic Church?
  • Why do Catholics pray to Mary?
  • Why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books but the King James Version only 66?
  • Why are Catholic priests unmarried?
  • Why do Catholics confess to a priest instead of going straight to Jesus?
  • Why do Catholic churches have statues and pictures?
  • Why do Catholics baptise infants?
We also conduct seminars (FREE OF CHARGE) at parishes on invitation, where specific topics are discussed but questions are answered on any other topic. Although Confirmation, RCIA and Youth Group coordinators may be particularly interested in these sessions, they could also be made available to Catholic secondary schools and parishioners in general who want to strengthen their faith so that they can be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks them to explain the hope they have in their faith (1 Peter 3:15).
If you want us to come to your parish, please call Thomas @ 682-8030 or Raymond @ 718-0983.

Simon of Cyrene Group,

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