Parents who homeschool their children usually fall into two categories: those who teach their children all academic and religious subjects and those whose children's schedules conflict with the schedule of the parish religious education and youth ministry program. Parents have the right and duty to educate their children and the pastor has the duty to ensure the catechetical formation of adults, youth and children.
The following guidelines aid parents in this task:
- "Because they gave life to their children, parents have the most serious obligation and right to educate them. It is therefore primarily the responsibility of Christian parents to ensure the Christian education of their children in accordance with the teaching of the Church." (Canon 226 #1) It is their right, therefore, to educate their children. Our responsibility is to support them, provide the necessary education to enable them to adequately form and teach the faith, call them to accountability and ensure communal faith formation at the parish for the family.
- "By virtue of his office, the parish priest is bound to ensure the catechetical formation of adults, young people and children." (Canon 776)
- Parents should [not "must"] use materials on the recommended list of texts provided by the Education Office. It may be helpful if they are the same texts used by the parish education program. A copy of the appropriate grade of the Curriculum for Religious Education is to be provided for each child.
- Wherever family participation is expected in the parish program, homeschooled families are also expected [not "required"] to participate. All retreats, service, AIDS information and communal prayer experiences as outlined in the Religious Education curriculum and required by the parish should be [not "must be"] attended by those homeschooled.
- Parents are to be called to accountability. Parents and their children, should [not "must"] meet with the parish Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister every 4-6 weeks. At this time work can be checked and questions answered. Confirmation will be celebrated in a local parish or by a group of parishes. It will be administered by the Bishop.
- Parish programs, which test children and youth, should [not "must"] also test those homeschooled.
- "In a special way, the parish priest is to ensure, in accordance with the norms laid down by the Diocesan Bishop, that:
children are properly prepared for first confession and first holy communion, and for the sacrament of confirmation, by means of catechetical formation over an appropriate period of time. Children, after having made their first holy communion, are given a richer and deeper catechetical formation." (Canon 777 #2-3)According to Diocesan Directives, sacramental preparation for Baptism, First Eucharist, Confirmation and First Reconciliation is to be family centered and parish based. (Directive #4) Whatever the parish requires for sacramental preparation for the above mentioned sacraments is expected [not "required"] of those who are homeschooled.
- Families who homeschool have access to [not "requirement to use"] media resources at the diocesan and parish resource center.
These guidelines were effective January, 2002.
Editor's Note: The below are quotes from Canon law that may be beneficial to families.
Canon 774--§1. Under the supervision of legitimate ecclesiastical authority this concern for catechesis pertains to all the members of the Church in proportion to each one's role.
§2. Parents above others are obliged to form their children in the faith and practice of the Christian faith and practice of the Christian life by word and example; godparents and those who take the place of parents are bound by an equivalent obligation.
Canon 775--§1. While observing the prescriptions of the Apostolic See it is the responsibility of the diocesan bishop to issue norms concerning catechetics and to make provision that suitable instruments for catechesis are available, even by preparing a catechism, if such seems appropriate, and by fostering and co-ordinating catechetical endeavors.
Canon 793--§1. Parents as well as those who take their place are obliged and enjoy the right to educate their offspring; Catholic parents also have the duty and the right to select those means [books] and institutions [environment] through which they can provide more suitably for the Catholic education of the children according to local circumstances.
§2. Parents also have the right to make use of those aids to be furnished by civil society which they need in order to obtain Catholic education for their children.
Canon 794--§1. The duty and right of educating belongs in a unique way to the Church which has been divinely entrusted with the mission to assist men and women so that they can arrive at the fullness of the Christian life.
§1. Pastors of souls have the duty to arrange all things so that all the faithful may enjoy a Catholic education. ...