Assumption Catholic Church
  323 West Illinois Street - Chicago IL 60654
  (ph) 312-644-0036  (fax) 312-644-1838    Map & Directions
 

 

Fr. Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M.

Pastor

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Assumption Catholic Church - Latest Message from our Pastor

 

 
7/16/2017 Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM    
THEN AND NOW  

 

Once upon a time, the Catholic Church had an amazingly efficient system for funneling children through Catholic schools and religion programs, making sure they had received the three sacraments of initiation (baptism, communion, and confirmation) by the time they had finished eighth grade. Of course, the system was far from perfect. The education itself could be spotty and the strict discipline that Catholic schools were famous for could be sorely lacking. Also, the low tuition fees that made it accessible to all rested upon the “contributed services” of the teaching sisters and the very minimal salaries paid to lay teachers. And, of course, there were always some children who fell through the cracks.

Today, of course, we are dealing with a much more complex situation. Without the social cohesion of the old Catholic neighborhoods, lots of Catholic children are baptized but never receive any religious education. The age of confirmation now varies widely from diocese to diocese. A family might move from a diocese where the age of confirmation is sixteen to a diocese where it is fourteen and their son or daughter miss out on confirmation. At an older age, confirmation becomes more of a choice. Then there is the simple reality that so many of us face as adults: In a rapidly changing world where we are all exposed to multiple belief system, the simple definitions we learned in grade school are not always adequate to address the moral challenges we face. Finally, there is a demographic trend that has the leadership in all organized religions ringing their hands. More and more teens and young adults are simply dropping out because they find religion at best irrelevant and at worst demonizing and divisive.  That means that their children will be born into a household that is already disconnected from church.

So, what does the Catholic Church offer for those who are thus lost, frustrated, got left behind, or fell through the cracks? For those who simply missed out on the sacrament of confirmation, the Archdiocese offers an adult confirmation program on a regional basis, the closest being at Holy Name Cathedral. This is a six weeks program that involves a basic review of Catholic teaching and then a confirmation ceremony presided over by a bishop. Catholics who never made their first communion and never received any religious formation are invited to be part of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). We offer RCIA at Assumption every year and the process will begin again very soon. Although the RCIA process also takes under its wing those who were never baptized and those baptized in other faiths, it is nothing like the “convert classes” and “instructions” of old. While there is always a talk on some aspect of the Catholic faith at each weekly session, time is also devoted to a discussion of the Sunday scriptures and its implications for a life of discipleship. As adults we bring our own life experience to the process: How might I handle this situation differently now that I am more familiar with the teachings of Jesus, and how can my life experience help someone else? As we progress through the year, participants, I firmly believe, learn as much from one another as from the texts and the talks. Those in RCIA have the opportunity to celebrate their initiation or complete their initiation into the church with baptism, communion, and confirmation at the first Mass of Easter.

So, what about the rest of us who are “current” on our Sacraments? Unlike most Christian denominations, the Catholic Church does not have a strong tradition of “Sunday School” for adults. My mother had a friend who was a member of a Sunday School class at a Baptist church where the youngest student was 85! However, we are not without adult enrichment programs. Almost every year at Assumption we have offered a Bible Study, one or two fall sessions on the basics of our faith, and a Lenten speaker series. Sometimes learning something new not only jumpstarts our brain but also our desire to pray and to serve. We always keep Catholic pamphlets and magazines in the back of church. They all attempt to address in various ways the adult challenges that Catholics face. If you are too busy to come to anything beyond Sunday Mass, pick up one of these free materials from time to time.

Last (and certainly not least!), for several decades the Archdiocese has sponsored a summer speaker series for adults in their twenties and thirties called Theology On Tap. This year the Archdiocese is trying to revitalize this program by reaching out to young adults who no longer attend church. Some of the sessions are being held in what society columnists like to call “watering holes,” and some of these bars are not far from Assumption. If you are in the young adult demographic, check out their website (www.totchicago.org). If you see something interesting that you would like to attend, how about inviting a non-churchgoing friend to go with you?

                                                            Fr. Joe

 


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