A meeting for parents of first penance and eucharist candidates last week. A full forty-five minutes spent on the former sacrament, the forgotten one. Up front, an assurance that only priests who don't frighten children would be invited to "help out" day of. Does that mean that there are priests who frighten children?!
In a lousy attempt to "relate," shared some Catholic angst, came stories of youthful fear and confusion at confession. And a weird story about a third grade boy admitting in the box to putting his sis's brassiere in the freezer. Father wanted to know whether she was still in it when he did. Most of the mothers told me later they found this story wholly inappropriate. I'm quite sure, if it was even confessed - seal of confession? - it was done as a joke. And either Father is gullible and/or simply relishes the retelling. I wondered what any of this had to do with my child's sacrament preparation.
During Q & A, I asked what sign of reverence the children will be trained in so I can reinforce it. I glanced at the notes being taken by the mother next to me: "Longwinded," she'd scrawled across the top of her tablet. Amen. "Captive audience," thought I.
The following day, a close friend who'd attended confided that she'll switch parishes after first sacraments. She was completely put off. Not the sort of church she'd grown up in.