"Yes, I'll be a Catechist." Music to a Catechetical Leader's Ear!
By Anita M. Foley, MA, RCL Benziger Senior Sales Representative
Summer 2014 is slowly fading and the time for the formal process of parish and school faith formation is rapidly approaching. After experiencing a vacation or staycation, catechetical leaders can better meet the challenges of ministry with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
The recruitment of new catechists is one task we face as September draws near. Hearing a "yes" response to an invitation to serve as a catechist is music to the ears of a program director. The "yes" of a new catechist, as well as the continuing "yes" of a seasoned catechist, requires catechetical leaders to provide an engaging and effective ongoing process of formation.
Hosting an opening meeting for all catechists to meet each other, to pray as a community, and to become acquainted with the procedures of the program is essential to get the year off to a good start. Presenting an overview of the books and resources to be used with the children, young people, and families is an important component to include. Discussing the scope and sequence of the content and the approach to methodology developed by the publisher is essential. Sharing the catechetical principles of the religious education program can help catechists understand their role within the parish's vision of faith formation.
However, this opening gathering is not enough! In order to develop a confident, capable, and committed community of catechists, a parish should develop an ongoing process of formation that includes the three aspects identified in the General Directory for Catechesis:
- Being - developing an understanding of the vocation and roles of the catechist
- Knowing - sharing the doctrinal themes contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as Sacred Scripture
- Savoir-fare - presenting effective methodologies and skills
Keep these dimensions in mind when developing your formation plan for 2014-15. Here are a few ideas you may want to integrate in the upcoming year:
- Provide opportunities for grade-level catechist meetings for planning and idea swapping
- Assign new catechists a seasoned catechist to be their mentor
- Subscribe to catechetical periodicals for the catechists
- Offer times when catechists can gather for fun, such as a book discussion club
- Host an appreciation brunch, dinner, or picnic for catechists and their families
- Publicize diocesan-sponsored events such as catechetical congresses
- Gather and share information from local Catholic colleges and seminaries that offer ministry certificate programs
- Meet with other parish catechetical leaders in your area and share ideas with them
Building a community of confident, capable, and committed catechists is a challenge. But, every time we hear the response of "yes" from a newly invited or returning catechist, we should feel the reward of our efforts as dedicated catechetical leaders. Listen to the music of the "yes" and give thanks.
Anita M. Foley, MA, serves as Senior Sales Representative for RCL Benziger.