30 JANUARY 2006
LAUNCH OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ PASTORAL MESSAGE
NURTURING OUR CHILDREN’S FAITH
BY DR MARTIN DRENNAN, BISHOP OF GALWAY AND CHAIRMAN
OF THE CATECHETICS COMMISSION OF THE IRISH BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
“The future of the Church depends on today’s children and the future
of today’s children depends on today’s adults” – Bishop Drennan
Dr Martin Drennan, Bishop of Galway and Chairman of the Catechetics Commission
of the Irish Bishops’ Conference (IBC), has today launched a Pastoral Message
from the bishops entitled Nurturing Our Children’s Faith.
Speaking at the launch in St Patrick’s National School in Drumcondra, Dublin,
Bishop Drennan said: “It is very appropriate that we find ourselves in a school
today for the launch of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter “Nurturing Our Children’s
Faith”. One of the points that the Pastoral makes is that the faith of children
is best nurtured when home, school and parish work together in partnership. It
is fitting that we have representatives from the home, the school and the parish
with us here today.
“Today’s pastoral message by the bishops is intended as a word of encouragement
to all those who assist children to grow in faith, parents – the first and best
teachers in the ways of faith, grandparents, teachers, chaplains, diocesan/parish
workers, clergy, religious and members of our faith community. The future of the
Church depends on today’s children and the future of today’s children depends
on today’s adults! If we are to build up young people’s faith in themselves,
as well as their faith in a God who has faith in them, we need to strengthen
the links between the home, the school and the parish.”
In their Pastoral Nurturing Our Children’s Faith the bishops say: “As priests
and bishops we have the privilege of being present at some of the most important
moments in the lives of families. We are very grateful that we are welcomed to
be part of such occasions, not only in churches and schools, but also in homes.
We are happy to be present at joyful times for our young people, such as Baptisms,
First Holy Communions and Confirmations. We are also present and available at
times of pain, when a family is visited by sickness, or is distraught with grief
because of death and bereavement. Whether the occasion is joyful or sorrowful,
we can certainly say that faith makes a great difference.
“Our experience tells us that the faith of children is best nurtured when home,
school and parish work together in partnership. Firstly and most importantly,
children learn about faith in the home. Their faith is supported in the school
by the hard work of teachers and chaplains, and by both priests and people in
the wider parish community.
“We see the love in Irish homes as the most important foundation for faith.
Since God is love, it is not hard to find the face of Christ in the Irish
family today. This witness of love in the family is an irreplaceable foundation
out of which a child’s faith can grow and be nourished.”
The bishops go on to say: “There are many pressures that affect families. A
time of increased prosperity has not benefited everyone. Many young couples
feel forced by the high cost of living, especially housing, to work for long
hours. Many people now seem to have more of everything except time. The gift
of time spent with their children is one of the most precious gifts that parents
can give. The home has always been central to our faith, to the extent of being
known as the ‘domestic church’. It is here that children learn the message of
Christ for the first time, in the love that their parents show them, and in
the ordinary, simple, everyday things like prayers before bedtime. Family
prayer is very important; even very small children can take part. It has become
harder and harder to gather the family around the kitchen table for meals, but
it is an investment of time that is repaid many times over.
“The frantic pace at which we live our lives has led many to look for quiet
spaces and opportunities for reflection. Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth
and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me’. Our Catholic
tradition is full of rich opportunities for developing our relationship with
God; for example through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and Christian
meditation, novenas and places of pilgrimage. In order to be able to help their
children to pray parents need to pay attention to their own prayer lives.
Thankfully, in recent times, it has become easier and easier to find books,
magazines, websites and other resources which are designed to help us sustain
and develop our prayer. All of these are ways of quietening down, of making
space for a vital connection with God who loves us.”
Concluding their message the bishops’ say: “Each of us has a responsibility
to live in a way that bears witness to the message of Christ. Many people in
Ireland strive to live the gospel, and do so in very practical ways. Still,
we feel often that there is so much more that we could do. Yet, when discouraged
by our many failures, it is a source of comfort that the grace of God continues
to work through the messiness of all our lives.
“There are so many signs of hope and growth in the Irish Church, which are
well-nigh invisible, because they happen ‘beneath the radar’ of the media.
To name but a few, there has been the resurgence in the tradition of local
pilgrimages, a great increase in parish-based programmes, and many thousands
of young people gather regularly for prayer in small groups. All of these
initiatives connect with, and depend upon, lively and vibrant Catholic family
life. We would urge you to take pride in your Catholic heritage, and to do
your best to be part of keeping it strong by seeking out and forming bonds
with other families and individuals who value their faith. The gift of faith
is precious; it is God’s gift for us with the Holy Spirit working through us.
Let us appreciate and nurture it together.”
30 January 2006
Mr Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Ms Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
* The Pastoral Message is available in English, Irish and
Polish at www.catechetics.ie
* The Pastoral Message Nurturing Our Children’s Faith will
be circulated in parishes on Sunday 5th February – Education
in Faith Sunday.
* Education in Faith Sunday (formerly Catechetical Sunday) has
been celebrated in Ireland since 2004. It is a time to respond
to the gift of faith in our own lives and to recognise our important
role in witnessing to that faith in the wider world. Education in
Faith Sunday is also a time to celebrate the wonderful work of those
who assist others to grow in faith – parents, teachers, chaplains,
diocesan/parish workers, clergy and members of our faith community.
* The National Catechetical Office of the Irish Bishops’ Conference
has prepared materials to assist parishes, schools and the home to
celebrate Education in Faith Sunday. These materials consist of a
liturgical pack for parishes, a school pack for primary, post-primary,
special schools, gaelscoileanna and materials suitable for use in
All of the above materials are available online at www.catechetics.ie.