Success of religious education depends on parents, parish leaders say

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August 29, 2015

In this April 16, 2014 file photo, people attend Mass at St. John by the Sea Church in Klawock on Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska. Catholics make up slightly less than 2 percent of the island's 6,000 residents. The island is accessible only by boat, ferry or sea plane. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec) See AMERICAN-PARISH- Aug. 26, 2015 and to come.

In this April 16, 2014 file photo, people attend Mass at St. John by the Sea Church in Klawock on Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska. Catholics make up slightly less than 2 percent of the island’s 6,000 residents. The island is accessible only by boat, ferry or sea plane. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just as one Catholic school does not reflect all of them, there isn’t one religious education program Pope Francis could visit while he is in the United States that would represent the variety of faith formation programs in churches across the country.

Programs vary according to parish size and styles of ministry. And although they run the gamut from structured weekly classes in school settings to informal discussions with pastors and children before or after Mass on Sundays, the programs face the similar challenge of how to keep children and their parents involved in the process.

In 2014, 2.7 million elementary school students and 631,943 high school students participated in religious education programs, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

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