Jenny Verdi

How to Raise Catholic Children to Be Atheists

One of the more fond memories of working in campus ministry at UW-Madison were the lively annual debates between the Catholic student org (Badger Catholic) the AHA group (Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics). Interestingly, there would almost always be Catholics on both sides. There might have been one year where the entire panel from AHA were Catholics. Even more, I remember one Catholic on the AHA side who said she grew up going to Catholic school. It was a bit disheartening hearing our own Catholics (who were obviously no longer practicing) publicly arguing against their own Catholic upbringing. They had many misunderstandings about the Catholic faith and may not have had the support they needed in the church to endure in their faith. This made me reflect upon what might have been missing from their Catholic upbringing that got them to the point they were.

Reflecting on that and reflecting on the experiences of the hundreds of students I had met the Catholic center who were or became strong in their faith, I came up with 10 critical things that young people in the church need in order that they have the best possible chance at knowing and living their faith with conviction and with great clarity. For this article, I will have room to present three of them. Moreover, I will present them as their opposite and then explain it using the positive value. Sometimes, in order for us to see the right path, it is helpful to know the paths to avoid. So here they are, three (of 10) ways to raise Catholic children to be atheists.

Surround them with friends who don’t care for religion, who are anti-Catholic, or better, Catholic friends who don’t practice the Catholic faith

  • One of the consistent things I see with young people who are strong in their faith is that they have deep friendships with others who are strong in their faith. I see very consistently with people who are no longer practicing that they don’t have trustworthy friends who encourage them in their faith.

Never pray or mention God in the home

  • Pray! The family that prays together, stays together. Countless of Catholic college students I have met who are strong in their faith have said it was due to their parents praying the rosary with them or teaching them to pray. Even St. Pope John Paul II was moved by witnessing his father on his knees praying everyday.

Make sure they fulfill their obligation to attend all of their sporting events, even if it means missing Mass

  • Make God and Mass a priority. Young people need to know that Mass is something of utmost importance. An excuse I often hear is that people are too busy. But, don’t we all get busy? Imagine how busy the Pope is. We need to invite God into our busy-ness. Our busy-ness is God’s business. Once heard, if the devil can’t make you believe that God doesn’t exist, he will make you so busy that you don’t have time for Him. Put God first and everything else will fall into place. If you or your children are struggling with these, you are not alone. Know that the staff here at St. Pius X are here to serve you and assist you and walk with you through these challenges.

God Love You, Shileng Yang - Director of Evangelization