The Catholic Parishes in Waterloo believe that the religious formation of children is a shared responsibility which unites the family and the parish in an exciting and important partnership.
This shared responsibility assumes the full and active participation of both the parents and the parish community. It derives from the grace parents receive and the promises parents make in the Sacraments of Marriage and Baptism. The responsibilities of parents and parish to the faith formation of children are outlined in the Baptism Covenant which parents sign when baptizing an infant or child in one of our parish communities.
We believe that parents are the “first heralds of faith.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children” (#2223). What children learn in the home “precedes, accompanies and enriches [all] other forms of instruction in the faith“ (#2226). According to the General Directory of Catechesis, “The witness of Christian life given by parents in the family comes to children with tenderness and parental respect.... This childhood religious awakening which takes place in the family is irreplaceable” (#226).
Whether children attend a Catholic school or religious education program, parental participation in their child's preparation for the celebration of the sacraments is mandated by Archdiocesan policy (cf. 6150.2).
The rationale for the parent's participation was explained by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae: In the course of “family events such as the reception of the sacraments, the celebration of great liturgical feasts, the birth of a child, a bereavement,” Pope John Paul wrote, care should be taken “to explain in the home the Christian or religious content of these events.....
“Christian parents must strive to follow and repeat, within the setting of family life, the more methodical teaching received elsewhere. The fact that these truths about the main questions of faith and Christian living are thus repeated within a family setting...will often make it possible to influence the children in a decisive way for life....” (#68)
We believe that the parishes have a responsibility to provide those components of a child's faith formation which the family cannot provide on its own, including access to the Sacraments, the support and witness of the faith community, and formal instruction in a Catholic school or faith formation program. However, this instruction cannot replace the parent's role in the faith formation of their children. The religious awakening which children can only experience in the family is deepened “when parents comment on the more methodical catechesis which their children... receive in the Christian community and help them to appropriate it” (General Directory for Catechesis, #226).
We believe that the parishes have a responsibility to prepare, encourage and support parents in their role as the “first heralds of faith” for their children. This includes providing opportunities for life-long formation, enrichment and spiritual growth for adults and young adults, including parents.
We believe that infancy and early childhood are decisive moments in the faith formation of individuals. The goal of faith formation in infants and young children is to “develop those human resources which provide a...basis for the life of faith -- a sense of trust, of freedom, of self-giving, of invocation and of joyful participation.” In the family, children “perceive and joyously live the closeness of God and of Jesus made manifest by their parents in such a way that this first Christian experience frequently leaves decisive traces which last throughout life” (General Directory for Catechesis, #178, 226).