After two long years, the catechists of the Southern and Central Vicariate excitedly gathered at St Benedict’s Church, La Romaine on Saturday, October 1. The event was a celebration to culminate Catechetical month (September) under the theme, Catechists: Companions on the Journey – A Synodal Perspective.
Though the gathering lasted only half day, it was packed with prayers, reflection, dialogue, drama, and the celebration of Holy Mass.
Catechists from 17 of the 20 parishes spent days before the gathering preparing the morning prayer and the Liturgical music. The desire was that each parish participate and commune as part of their synodal journey. The fruit was a dramatic, creative, colourful, meaningful morning prayer.
The scripture reflected upon in the context of catechesis was the Emmaus Story. In the reflection and dramatisation, we were all made aware that we were the disciples and were having an encounter with Jesus. This encounter with Jesus brought us to a deeper dialogue with and a recognition of who Jesus was.
It also provided methodology for how we deliver catechesis. The colourful banner and streamers that attached all of us to the Holy Spirit symbol and processed throughout the church brought alive the spirit of the event.
We then had a discussion with a four-member panel: Fr David Khan, Vicar for South; Bernadette Gopaul-Ramkhalawan, Vicariate Catechetical Coordinator for South and Central; Juliana Valdez, Catechetical Coordinator for La Brea; and Valerie Bethel, a catechist from Penal.
Each panellist made a five-minute presentation of a different aspect of the theme.
Bethel presented on the ‘Nature of Catechetics’ and its different facets; Gopaul-Ramkhalawan presented on ‘Communication to build Community and Communion’; Valdez presented on ‘Mission in the work of Catechesis’; Fr Khan presented on the spirituality of the catechist using the Synod prayer.
After the presentations, the panellists were asked questions by the catechists which led to a rich and fruitful discussion.
The session ended with Holy Mass celebrated by Frs Khan and Derek Anton, Vicar for Central. Rev Dennis Hamid assisted. In his homily, Fr Khan cited St Thérèse of Lisieux, whose feast day was being celebrated that day, as an example of how catechists should conduct their catechetical work. It is not about doing extraordinary things but the ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
He spoke about all catechists developing a life of intense prayer like St Thérèse, and of her becoming a patron of missionaries without even leaving the convent. Her prayer life supported missionaries in far-off places.
He added that the catechist must be a companion before they can teach anything meaningfully. “People need people to walk with them in life’s journey and faith can grow in this way,” he said.
Fr Khan concluded urging catechists to have both good intention and passion for what they do. He explained that one can do a good thing but for the wrong intention, and one can have the right intention and do nothing. Catechists must pray to be filled with both passion and good intention.
During the Mass, catechists made a one-year pledge to serve as a catechist, work in union with the Archdiocese, and commit to study and prayer.
Catechists left feeling a sense of worth, filled with food for thought and reflection, and inspired by each other to return to their parishes to catechise full of joy and passion.
— By catechists of South and Central Vicariates