Should my daughter's CCD class have to keep a Mass attendance record?


Full Question

My daughter's second-grade CCD class was given a Mass attendance record which they are to have the priest punch for them after Mass. Is this right?

Answer

While the parish is well-intentioned in trying to get children in its CCD program—and, presumably, their parents—to attend Mass, the policy it has implemented to encourage this is problematic. Catholics have the right to fulfill their Sunday obligation "wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic rite either on a holy day itself or on the evening of the previous day" (canon 1248 §1, Code of Canon Law) and are not required to do so at their parish church. It would be particularly troublesome if the parish is conditioning the children’s reception of the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion upon an attendance record, particularly since culpability for failure to complete such a record would be the parents’ and not the children’s. I recommend talking to your pastor to clarify the parish’s intentions in this policy and the consequences for the children if the attendance record is not completed. If you remain concerned about the use of these "punch cards," I recommend talking to a canon lawyer in your diocese for clarification of the relationship between your child’s right to receive the sacraments and the parish’s right to ensure adequate preparation for those sacraments. You can also obtain guidance in these matters from the St. Joseph Foundation (www.st-joseph-foundation.org).


Michelle Arnold