Director of Catechesis & Youth Ministry
Catechetical Sunday is the day we focus on ministries of passing on the faith, and bless those who dedicate themselves as catechists in our parishes. This is also the time of year that many parishes announce the need for even more catechists in their programs.
A “catechist” (from the Greek for “echo”) is someone who passes on the faith. Many of us do this informally, day by day, as we live our faith, speak with neighbors, and raise our own children. However, catechists pass on the faith in more formal ways (e.g., teaching children, working with teens, educating adults) and they do it on our behalf.
Why do they serve? Ultimately, I would say they are called – called by God through the Church. However, most catechists would probably not say that. They might describe how they first got involved or what motivates them. Some were personally asked by their director of religious education or youth minister. Some are parents who like being involved in the program their children attend. There are also some who say, “I’ve received so much, I want to give back.” Some are parishioners who just see a need and step up. For a few, it is something they have thought about for years and finally decided it was time.
As much as I wish that many, many people would come forward in every parish in our archdiocese, being a catechist is not for everyone. You must discern if you are not meant to be a catechist or if you simply are not ready or comfortable enough to start.
Most catechists begin with doubts about their own knowledge, their ability to control a group of young people, or whether they will have the time. While these are important things to think about, an individual thinking about becoming a catechist should also know there is help. The director of religious education or youth minister provides plenty of assistance. Additionally, there are teachers’ manuals and lesson plans, initial training and ongoing coaching, you meet experienced catechists, and perhaps there might be an opportunity to team-teach instead of going solo. Just like anything new, being a catechist takes getting used to. However, a few short months from now, many of this year’s beginners will be telling stories of how much they enjoy the kids, or how they overcame their fears, how they are learning so much, or how they “receive more than they give.”
To all our catechists, I THANK YOU for your dedication, for your talent and creativity, for putting yourselves out there even if you are nervous, and for your love and your faith.
To the rest, I ask for your support. Give your catechists a word of thanks or encouragement. Offer up your prayers this Sunday and throughout the year. Then, consider joining them. Perhaps this is the year you step forward and say, "How can I be part of this?"
Prayer for Catechists
With your fatherly blessing, Lord,
strengthen these servants of yours
in their resolve to dedicate themselves as catechists.
Grant that they will strive to share with others
what they themselves derive from pondering your Word
and studying the Church’s teaching.
And let them gladly join those they teach
in honoring and serving your name.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(From the rite of Commissioning of Catechists )