Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Remote Catechesis During COVID-19

There Has Never Been A Stronger Need for Sound Catechesis

The lack of sound faith formation and reverent liturgies over the past few decades has led to disastrous consequences for the Catholic Faith. Based on statistics available from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate the collapse in enrollment in Catholic religious education, as well as Sacramental reception, has been profound.

Based on statistics available from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate the collapse in enrollment in Catholic religious education, as well as Sacramental reception, has been profound. Since 1970, the number of children in a primary school religious education program has dropped 60% and the number of secondary school students in religious education has dropped 55%. Since 1960, the number of annual adult baptisms has fallen 68%. Since 1975, the number of annual infant baptisms has fallen 18%.

Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell further illustrates the consequences following the changes post-Vatican II. These decades saw significant changes in the Sacramental life of Catholics and the customs and practices of living out a Catholic life (e.g. times of fasting, processions, cultural celebrations). The Church was also shaken by the disastrous consequences of the sexual abuse crisis by some of Her priests. The results are grim: only 30% of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practicing and 10% of all adults in America are ex-Catholics.

In one often-quoted study, data by D’Antonio, Dillon, & Gautier in 2013 showed 33% of American Catholics are unaware of the Church’s teaching of Christ in the Real Presence and an additional 4% even deny this central tenet of the Faith. The number of Catholics who are unaware of the official Church teaching illustrates the inability of modern religious education to meet the needs of today’s Catholics.

COVID-19 Has Led To Greater Challenges Than Even Before

In response to the continued threat from COVID-19 and the legal ramifications, large numbers of Dioceses continue to restrict Masses, cancel religious education programs for adults and children, and put a number of precautionary measures in place. Online education, to which the Church must turn especially in times like this, is the solution to both the pandemic and to bucking the trend of children not actually learning the Faith.

Remote learning does not have to mean a lack of quality. For instance, CatechismClass.com focuses on providing authentic and unwaveringly sound Theology in a way that ensures accountability. One of the founding hallmarks of that program, as built by Fr. James Zatalava, is that there is accountability built into all of the lessons. As students take lessons, parishes will receive instantaneous quiz reports of the students' progress. They can see the questions, how well the student did, the amount of time they spent on a lesson, and they have the ability to issue retakes for quizzes that need them. In addition to these instant quizzes, parishes may at any time log in to run a roster report to see how students are doing, their cumulative scores, the average time spent on lessons, etc to ensure that they are learning the materials.

Remote Catechesis During COVID-19 Is the Solution

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education published a meta-analysis of evidence-based studies of K-12 and postsecondary online learning programs. The study reported that “students who took all or part of their class online performed better on average than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.” We have reason to believe that children in religious education will also perform better.

Children want to learn and be challenged. The discipline in a secular classroom should carry over to religious education. Children should have regular activities and homework — including frequent reception of the Sacraments, the practice of prayers and pious devotions, and ample opportunities for them to share what they learn.

Children want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to feel connected and a part of something; the internet provides this connectivity and hands-on learning, so long as parents and priests help foster this life.

One of the benefits of the pandemic is surely the rise in online, flexible, and sound catechesis. Programs like CatechismClass.com have arisen to solve these needs and since 2004 they have served thousands of families and parishes.

While the Catholic Faith and its doctrines are timeless and unchanging, the manner in how we teach the Faith must adapt to newer standards in order to help ensure our children do not become statistics for ex-Catholics in the next decade. The Internet is a tool that children and adults are already using. Let’s as a Catholic community use it for the good of their souls.

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

Copyright Notice: Unless otherwise stated, all items are copyrighted under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. If you quote from this blog, cite a link to the post on this blog in your article.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, for instance, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases made by those who click on the Amazon affiliate links included on this website. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”