This excerpt is from a report on the consultation “Transmitting Tradition to Children and Young People” in the fall 1987 Ecumenical People, Programs, Papers, the Collegeville Institute’s twice-yearly newsletter, which ran 1986-2003.
- In light of the changing nature and identity of the family, how can the church help adults (parents and others responsible for the nurture of children) transmit Christian tradition? How can the church help adults overcome their own sense of inadequacy at this task? Can the sense of inadequacy itself become a positive point of contact between adults and children?
- How can adults listen to, identify, and reflect the faith experiences of children and young people? This was a major theme of the consultation: the ways in which children and young people transmit the tradition to adults, and the general insensitivity of adults to what the children and young people are offering.
- New images of God are called for (especially more feminine ones); can children and young people help us recognize fresh and authentic ways of speaking?
- All participants expressed a longing for more evidence of imagination in the church’s address to children and young people, less defensiveness, more willingness to risk, even to risk mistakes.
- The image of the “kitchen table” around which any subject can be discussed without fear of embarrassment became a focus of the group’s hopes for a more honest and effective engagement of children and young people in mission to a world which they know in their own way as well as adults know it in their way.
- Too often children find their own knowledge of God does not fit in the language and images that have been handed on to them. Even more damaging is the tension between particular images and negative experiences (e.g., children who have been abused by their fathers may have terrible problems relating to a God who has been imaged exclusively as Father). We need to expand the range of images of God.