Religious Education is part of the mission to teach what Our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted to His Catholic Church. To fulfill this mission, the Diocese of Lincoln has developed a Catechetical Ministry, as an integral part of the Catholic School System and the Parish Religious Education Program.
The Diocese of Lincoln provides the opportune framework for the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church as the ‘norm’ for Religious Instruction in each of our Catholic Schools and Parish Religious Education Programs. The Church’s motivation and goal for Catechetical Ministry offers an explicit and systematic instruction in the Catholic Faith to thoroughly inculcate the essentials of the Faith in an age-appropriate, preliminary style for the student. Instruction in the Catholic Faith not only involves imparting information but, also, is concerned with the spiritual formation of the student: the frequent opportunity to practice personal and liturgical prayer, to exercise virtue, to celebrate the Sacraments, and to plan with certainty a grounding of his / her future lifestyle. Moreover, the Instruction in the Catholic Faith serves the whole person by interweaving the ‘sacred’ – these strands of Religious Beliefs, Worship, and Morality – with the students’ physical and emotional on-going development, and with his intellectual study of the ‘secular’ sciences.
Parents are the first teachers of the Faith for their children, and the home is the best school. The Catechetical Ministry of the Catholic Church seeks to assist parents in their task, not substituting for parents, nor absolving them from their responsibility. Rather, the Catholic School or Parish Religious Education Program seeks to provide teaching and spiritual formation that is consistent with a Faith-filled home, and ‘partners-with’ the parents in the educational efforts of the Catholic School or the Parish Religious Education Program. Therefore, whether the formal Religious Education Program actually achieves its purpose depends on, in large part, the parents and teachers, together, living out of their responsibilities, the quality of their respective relationship with the children / students, and a daily modeling ‘in the footsteps of Jesus’ by the practice of their personal faith.
Philosophically speaking, there are many reasons why Instruction in the Catholic Faith is of unparalleled importance – whether we are ‘the students’ or adults – parents or teachers – shaping the lives of our children / students. First of all, Religious Education directs, guides, and nourishes each student in the discovery of Truth, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, it identifies the one, true God as his / her basic desire, and reveals the goal for which every person was created: eternal happiness in Heaven. Thirdly, Religious Education orients our thoughts, words, and deeds towards the good of the society in which he / she lives – and, ultimately, to the Kingdom of Heaven. Fourthly, it provides each one of us with a point of reference and a fundamental norm for his / her life. Lastly, it compels the student, by its own force, to share his Faith with others.
All persons are made for Heaven, and all people are capable, assisted by the gift of Grace, of learning the saving Truths of Jesus Christ. Therefore, all people – especially members of the Catholic Church – have a right to Religious Instruction in the Catholic Faith. In the Catholic School or in the Parish itself – a Religious Education Program does not set out to ‘proselytize’, that is, to force a student to believe. Rather, the duty of parents and teachers comes in proclaiming the saving goodness, truth, and beauty of Divine Revelation, such that, a student would be drawn to say: “I believe, and I freely choose to love the one, true God, and to serve Him by living a life modeled after that of Jesus Christ”.