The news out of Our Lady School simultaneously heartened and disheartened Father Jeffrey Maassen, pastor at the parish in Festus.
On one hand, the school's eighth-graders wanted to be regulars at Sunday Masses, a precept of Catholicism.
On the other, if they expressed this desire, then it must not be happening on a regular basis.
"When I hear my eighth-graders saying, 'I want to go Mass,' that to me is 'Wow,'" Father Maassen said, adding, "It's awesome that they said that, but it's sad, too, because it indicates parents aren't (taking them), which is heartbreaking."
Much has changed in the 40 years since the calendar clicked over to 1977.
Numerous things have gone by the wayside, including — thankfully — bell-bottoms, disco and gas-guzzling vehicles. Secularly, we're on our seventh president and, in the Catholic world, our fifth pope and our fifth archbishop of St. Louis.
We've also experienced a drop in vocations to the clergy and to consecrated life, with Catholic education transitioning to the laity as a result. But thankfully, we've seen a great increase in the diaconate in the archdiocese, men firmly committed to serving the Church.
Four weeks of Advent are followed by Christmas Day and the beginning of the true Christmas season.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has written that "people go from celebration to celebration — Christmas to the Super Bowl to Valentine's Day to March Madness to Easter to baseball season. There's a lot to celebrate, but something about it seems frantic — and frantic isn't a fruit of God's presence. Preparations begin so early, but when the anticipated event arrives it never satisfies for very long — and shallow satisfaction isn't a fruit of God's presence."
Fathers matter, and moms, too. That's undeniable, of course, but giving them support and making it a matter of public policy isn't always a priority. Luckily, a few efforts in our community are making a difference, and they deserve further support.