November 18, 2016

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Cheryl McSweeney

ACRE helps parents fulfill call to evangelize

“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring, and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators” (“Declaration on Christian Education,” #3).

These words from Blessed Pope Paul VI remind us of the privilege and responsibility which parents have: to educate their children. This applies especially to education and formation in the Catholic faith.

The document goes on to say: “It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in baptism”(#3).

For some families, that might mean sending their children to Catholic schools, or educating them in a faith-filled home. For others, the commitment might be to drive to faith formation or youth ministry at the parish every week, taking the time to be actively involved as a family. Certainly, attending Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation is an irreplaceable aspect of faith formation.

The Church has a responsibility to assist parents in their role as the primary educators of their children. One example of this exists within our archdiocesan schools, when report cards are sent home to inform parents of their child’s progress in each subject matter, including Religion. This action reflects the respect that the Church has for the role and vocation of parents.

One such opportunity is coming soon for parents whose children attend archdiocesan schools and parish religious education programs. Throughout the month of January, all Catholic schools and parish religious education programs in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will be invited to administer the “Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education” (ACRE) to students in grades 5, 8 and 11. This allows schools and religious education programs to have a snapshot of how they are doing, by looking at an elementary, junior high and high school grade level. The data gathered will help administrators to improve religious education curriculum the following year.

Administering ACRE also gives an opportunity to send home individual student reports to parents, as one measure or highlight of their child’s faith formation development and understanding.

This is another way for the Church to fulfill her responsibility to support parents in their role as primary educators and catechists of their children. Parents should look for information from their parish or school administration regarding the ACRE assessment, and expect an individual student report to be sent home upon its completion.

Finally, let us remember that the family, “which has the primary duty of imparting education, needs [the] help of the whole community” (#3). Let us continue to pray for—and support—all the Catholic families in our community.

(Gabriela Ross serves as coordinator of catechetical resources for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. She can be reached at:

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