This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 18 under the theme This is my body given for you (Lk 22:19).
The Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) has chosen Companions on the Journey as the theme for catechetical month.
In a message for the month, Bishop John Persaud of Mandeville, Jamaica, Chair of the AEC Commission for Doctrine and Faith Formation, highlighted that catechetical work is foundational to all ministries in the Church, and it forms all the people of God in the Christian way of life. Quality catechesis, he wrote, would lead to quality Christians who have the power, through Christ, to transform the world.
“I thank you and applaud you for your commitment to study and service as you continue to deliver and improve the quality of catechesis that is relevant for our time and mission,” he said in his message.
He underscored that at this time of Synod, faithful are called to walk together and listen with the ear of the heart, as Christ taught us, “which will certainly propel us to respond to the needs of our people”.
According to Bishop Persaud, catechists have always been companions on the journey as Jesus was to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “but now our companionship has to be more focused on the disciple we are journeying with,” he said.
This type of companionship, Bishop Persaud said, calls for our inner conversion due to our own constant encounter with Christ.
“As catechists, we cannot give what we do not have and so we must seek out Jesus each day so that we can encounter Him and allow Him to be a companion to us as we in turn become a companion to those we catechise.”
As faithful reflect on the theme Companions on the Journey, Bishop Persaud pointed out three areas that faithful can focus their attention “as we strive to live this theme”:
Daily prayer: It is important for each catechist to develop a special prayer time, at least 20 minutes each day. Bishop Persaud encouraged faithful to add other prayers to this time such as Lectio Divina, Divine Office, the Holy Rosary, attending Holy Mass and availing oneself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as one can. “This can be our place of daily encounter with Jesus that will inform all the events of the day. This is where we would be filled with the Spirit so that we can take Jesus out into the world as we go about our daily activities,” Bishop Persaud said. The fruits of this time of prayer will be seen “in the way we speak and act in our various activities of the day and the world in which we inhabit would experience as a benefit,” he said.
Study: Catechists should never get tired of reading and learning new things. “We need to commit ourselves to learn more on the topics we teach, teaching methods so we can improve our delivery, learn about the different type of learners and how we can engage them, learn about the differently abled, learn about psychological development of the learners, learn about migrants so we can catechise them and so much more in our catechetical work,” Bishop Persaud said.
While the fundamentals of the message may not change, the ways in which catechists present these fundamental truths need to consider the times in which we live and the persons to whom we wish to present the faith. “By embracing study, we would be better companions because we understand the realities a little better,” the bishop said.
Mission: Bishop Persaud asserted that we all need to see ourselves as missionary disciples and so mission must be the motivating energy for the ministry. Mission, he said, will demand a heart of humility, willing to serve with compassion, patience, and charity.
He urged catechists to make a concerted effort to be persons who are willing to serve and not be served. “It means that we must work on ourselves as persons of service. We must dispose ourselves to formation as well, especially through retreats and spiritual direction that would help us to live our call at an even deeper level. We also need to understand that our mission must also involve the acknowledgement of God’s creation and care for it in a responsible way,” Bishop Persaud said. Visit aecbishops.org for the full message.