By María G. Covarrubias
Do you remember a catechist in your life that helped or is helping you learn about the Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church? What memories come to you as you remember that person? I can assure you that most of us have memories of our CCD (an old term that dates back to the 1500s), Religious Education or catechetical formation, and those catechists who, by volunteering their time and gifts, impacted our faith.
The call to the ministry of the catechist is a vocation that springs forth from the Sacrament of Baptism, strengthened by the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. Even though all the members of the community of believers in Jesus Christ participate in the Church’s catechetical mission, there are some of us called to a more specific teaching role. The apostolic work of the catechist is extremely important to the mission of the Church to evangelize and transmit the faith. Catechists are those men and women through whom God has blessed our parish (school, diocese, and region) to witness to our faith in Jesus Christ and to help us deepen our knowledge, love, and life in Him through the Church.
The National Directory for Catechesis states that “the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ.” Through catechesis, our catechists “lead people to enter into the mystery of Christ, to encounter him, and to discover themselves in the meaning of their lives in him.”
Every year, on the third Sunday of September, the Church celebrates, recognizes and commissions catechists. This is called Catechetical Sunday. This year, it will be celebrated on September 15th. The theme for this Catechetical Sunday is “Open the Door of Faith,” a theme which has been for this Year of Faith that we continue to celebrate in our Universal Church – commencing on October 11, 2012, and ending on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on November 24, 2013.
The theme, “Open the Door of Faith,” reflects extremely well the role catechesis and catechists have in awakening and nourishing our faith. Opening the door of faith is primarily about becoming disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is about giving testimony all the time of God’s love and compassion for us, but especially in our weakest moments. Opening the door of faith is creating an environment in which we all experience a deep sense of dignity and discover our purpose in life directing us to a life of service for others.
This Catechetical Sunday, in many parishes throughout our Diocese, catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is an excellent opportunity to appreciate, celebrate and pray for our catechists. It is also a great time for us to reflect on the responsibility that each of us have, by virtue of our Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for us all to rededicate ourselves to this mission as a community of faith. Catechetical Sunday is truly a celebration of HOPE!
Questions for reflection: What do I understand by faith? What role does faith have in my life? How do I hand on my faith?
María G. Covarrubias is the director of the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry.