BY Ian Dunn | August 4 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Church must do more to help parents, bishop says

Focus on fathers needed according to officials and lay groups

The Scottish Church needs to do more to support Catholic parents in their Faith, especially fathers, according to a senior member of the hierarchy.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said that the Church puts ‘many of its eggs’ into the ‘basket’ of Catholic schools and had to work on inspiring and supporting parents.

“When we Baptise children we remind parents that they’re the first teachers of their children in the ways of Faith—and those who love us teach us best,” he said. “So I think from the schools we’ve got to engage more and more with parents in the life of the schools, so their Faith becomes stronger.”

“One of the statistics that’s just huge,” he went on, “is that 80 per cent of young people go to Church if their dad goes. And if they don’t the drop off is enormous.”

Barbara Coupar, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said many parents were already getting involved in the life of Catholic Schools.

“A group of parents who wanted more involvement in the Faith dimension of their children’s schools are involved in a working group,” she said.

“And they’re currently trying to set up more local networks across every diocese to support Catholic parents.”

She also said that parents were key to Catholic education.

“We’ve always known that parents are the first educators of their children,” she said. “It’s so important to hear the voice of parents.”

Suzanne Bunnis, director of the pastoral outreach charity Fire.Cloud, ran a special event for Catholic fathers last year.

“In this country we don’t hear from Fathers that much in the Church, we don’t have so much witness from lay fathers,” she said. “We had six dads from different contexts, all shapes and sizes and all trying to bring their beliefs to way they father.

“And hearing these great characters talking about being a dad was really profound and inspiring.”

She said the Church could ‘absolutely do more’ to support Catholic fathers.

“I know lots of young fathers and there isn’t somewhere for them to go to get support unless they stumble across it really,” she said. “And of course their Catholic Faith should be a great help in family life so any opportunity to hear lay perspective of a faithful lived life for fathers is a positive way—so it is for mothers, grandparents and children.”


Bryan Caulfield runs a website called Fathers for Good which promotes Catholic fatherhood. He said fathers face specific challenges today.

“There is also, generally speaking, a loss of identity among men and fathers as to how exactly they are expected to act in our society and culture,” he said. “There are very few positive images of fathers in the popular media and a whole lot of movies and TV shows that have a bumbling dad being led by his superior wife and conniving kids.”

He said it was vitally important to help Catholic fathers ‘break the silence, raise the issues, offer guidance and encouragement for men in a way that is positive, that understands a man’s desire to be strong, masculine, loving and heroic to his family, and humble before God.’

Bishop Keenan made his comments during a talk with academic Leonardo Franchi about the latter’s new book Shared Mission: Religious Education in the Catholic Tradition. The book is available from Amazon.

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