There has been growing requests and demands for the friars to teach religion and catechesis in public schools. Our friars have been teaching religion classes in Tolotolo National High School for many years. Recently, our friars in Gabok, Bukidnon were requested to do the same in Manolo Fortich High School in Gabok, Bukidnon. Although, in the context of each of these schools, the work seems to be positive, but if one is to see in the totality of younger Catholic generation in the Philippines and teachers of religion, one might see things to be less optimistic. The number of teachers of religious education in proportion to the Catholic population in the Philippines is certainly immense.

“They have the right to know Christ and His Gospel; they have the right to know the true path to authentic Christian life; they have the right to be truly happy.”

One can just pick up the statistical data of Catholic population in the Philippines. There are about 69,630,000 Catholics at present. But there are only 7,300 ordained priests both diocesan and religious in the country. For every single priest, needs to take care of at least 9,739 Catholics. This certainly borders on impossibility when an adequate spiritual care for every single Catholic by a priest is to be expected. And the manifold duties of offering Holy Masses, administration of the sacraments, visit to the sick, work of evangelization, administration of parishes may seem overwhelming.

It is not that there is no one to teach religion among young Catholics today as there are few who volunteer to do so for failure to see the prime importance of such religious education.

The neglect to see the need of creating human and moral values to youngsters, the failure to find the important connection between faith and life, the risk of disconnecting adequate integral human development with the Gospel, and the disregard to the fact that authentic human happiness must include God in the formula, are some of the reasons why we don’t see the need and urgency to provide religious education to people. Not to provide these instruction is equivalent to depriving our younger generation access to true happiness. They have the right to know Christ and His Gospel; they have the right to know the true path to authentic Christian life; they have the right to be truly happy.

The perverted media is competitive in robbing souls of our younger generation through offers of materialistic future, of boosting egos and vanity and planting confusion to them and yet these same media has not been challenged by the ministers of the Gospel.

Our religious friars do their best in their own little way to provide religious education in circumstances they find themselves to be. But the harvest is still abundant and the laborers are still few. We pray to the master of the harvest to send more laborers to his vineyard.

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Fr. Martin Mary Fonte is a Franciscan priest of the Immaculate and serving as the current General Delegate of the Institute of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the Philippines. He acts as the current administrator and webmaster of Philmaria.org.

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