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Celebrating our dedicated missionaries

By Andrew Fernandes Archdiocesan, Catechetical Office

If you’ve been a Catholic long enough, then the words ‘catechism’, ‘catechesis’, ‘catechetics’, and ‘catechist’ should be known to you – or are they? If not, don’t feel too badly, as you may realise that you’re not alone.

A ‘catechism’ is a written work that contains a summary of all the beliefs of the faith that is used as a teaching tool. It is a text which contains the fundamental Christian truths formulated in a way that facilitates their understanding.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is an example (USCCB – www.usccb.org/committees/catechism).

The word ‘catechesis’ comes from the Greek meaning ‘to echo the teaching’. Catechesis is “nothing other than the process of transmitting the Gospel, as the Christian community has received it, understands it, celebrates it, lives it and communicates it in many ways” (General Directory for Catechesis (1998) #105).

Catechesis takes many forms and includes the initiation of adults, youth, and children as well as the intentional and systematic effort to enable all to grow in faith and discipleship (missionaries).

Its main purpose is to “help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God… and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ” (Catechesi Tradendae #1; CCC #4).

Simply put, catechetics is all activities involving the process of catechesis or catechising of the Church: theological, sacramental, liturgical, spiritual, educational, communal and social.

It is the systematic use of resources of various kinds for the purpose of holistic formation of the faithful.

A ‘catechist’ is a person of the faith who leads others in understanding and living the teachings of the faith (catechism). While the whole Catholic community bears this responsibility, catechists are those who have responded wholeheartedly to the call to “echo” the Word of God and becoming missionary disciples, particularly those in the ministry of Sacramental Formation (Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults [RCIA])

Now with this knowledge, can you identify the catechetical work being done at your parish? More importantly, do you know who your catechists are?

Every year, the month of September is dedicated to celebrating the work of our catechists. The Ministry of Catechesis is sometimes misunderstood, and undervalued.

Generally, our catechists have proven to be true disciples, sacrificing time, resources, and family in order to carry out the great commission – “go teach” (Mt 28:18–20).

This year, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office (ACO) invites all parishes throughout the Archdiocese to celebrate with their catechists and families. Jesus knew His disciples – where they came from and how they lived.

We all can relate to the impact Covid-19 had on the Church (people), yet there were catechists who braced the storm and continued the mission in spite of their personal, health, technological and financial challenges. Did you know this?

Unfortunately, we have lost some of our champions along the way. You can reach out to their families and celebrate their contribution regardless of how great or small. Are their families in need? Can you assist?

Celebrations can extend well beyond September. With the opening of the new school term, you can also recognise our catechists at our primary and secondary schools where catechesis also takes place.

We invite school principals to illuminate the spirit of catechetical missionary discipleship and celebrate the staff who continue to echo the Gospel of Jesus in their classrooms.

Celebrate the parents and families in your parishes and schools who participate, contribute, and support our catechists and their work. They too are catechising. To the families who are challenged, we must continue to encourage and journey with them.

The ACO offers a sincere ‘Thank You!’ to all our catechists – past and present: junior and senior, and to their families for the dedication and sacrifice made on this journey.

We say thank you to all the Ministries, Commissions, and support groups who have lend support to the catechetical endeavour of our parishes and schools.

To you the faithful, pray for our catechists so that they can continue to serve the call. You too are invited to join the mission and become a catechist disciple in your parish.

The synodal spirit recognises that ‘we’ are the Church, and we all have a role to play. None should feel excluded, for it is by our lives that we truly catechise.

Visit the ACO @ catecheticsrc.org