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Repairing religious education with a family-based approach

– Ask any random Catholic about their experience
with religious education, and their answers will vary widely. – CCD was definitely not enough. – I had a pretty positive experience. – It was up down. – I absolutely had a positive experience. – I don’t know if it
had the depth, you know? That I would have thought it could have. – In a survey of America
readers earlier this year, 26% of respondents rated their experience with religious ed an A, but almost just as many gave it an F. So what’s the best way to
teach kids about the faith? There’s no single right answer but one promising model is
called family based religious ed. I went down to a church
in Brooklyn, New York, to find out more about it. Alright, what’s your favorite thing about coming here on Sundays? – Pizza.
– What? – Learning.
– Learning too. – Learning?
– Drawing. – Drawing?
– Having some fun. – Once a month, at Assumption parish, parents and children come
together for a two hour session. It begins with pizza then moves
into an informal reflection on the week’s gospel and
small group activities. Dennis Corcoran introduced
the family based model to the parish last year,
after piloting the program in his own church in New
Jersey, 12 years earlier. He’d been teaching religious education for nearly two decades and was finding the traditional classroom CCD approach just wasn’t working for him
and the families he served. – When you talk to a lot of catechists in that classroom model,
the parents are pulling up and dropping their kids off
while they go run errands. It got to a point where
it was no longer enjoyable for the catechist or for the kids and once something has
no joy in it, as we know from Pope Francis, you
know, the joy of the gospel, it’s gonna be tough to
spread Christianity. – In Dennis’ program,
learning is experiential and inter-generational, the
whole family takes ownership and the aim is to bring scripture and theology into every day life. – There’s the gospel aspect of connecting what they’re gonna do every
Sunday of their Catholic life, listening to the gospel and trying to help the word of God
influence their family. Where can you find the kingdom of God? Inside, very good, it’s within you, it’s now, it’s here. Family based is recapturing
that earlier notion that faith gets passed on from
one generation to the next in a family setting, most of the time. – So far, this approach
is getting good marks from students and parents. – There’s a great desire among parents to get together and to be able to talk about their faiths with
other adults as well. With the family based that all
comes together so naturally. – I think cos we’re all
involved as a family, I’m actually learning, I
went to Catholic school and received all the
sacraments, but I feel like I’m learning so much
more as an adult now. – When the parents start coming and learning about the faith
in a healthy environment then naturally it’s contagious. A parent who came for their child then hears about a faith
that clicks with them and says man, this changes my life, this changes my family’s life, I want in. – Reporting for America
Media, I’m Ashley McKinless.

Otis Rodgers



  1. Angela Sealana Posted on April 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for this report, America! This is what we need!

  2. Jesse Wilinski Posted on April 22, 2017 at 2:26 am

    CCD was not good enough when I was a kid.

  3. Steven Song Posted on July 18, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Keep at it!