ANNUAL PROGRAM / RETREAT WITH THE CATECHISTS OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA CATHOLIC CHURCH, KRAAIFONTEIN, ARCH DIOCESE OF CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA BY REV. FR. JOHN PAUL ACHI, CMF
THEME: Catechists are God’s Instrument in assisting Young Parishioners to grow in the Faith of the Church and in the knowledge of Christ.
SCRIPTURAL READING: Mathew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you”
I welcome you all to this Annual program/Retreat for Catechists …….. It is an opportunity for those of us in the catechetical ministry to be renewed in spirit and to deepen our bonds with the Lord and with one another.
THE MISSION OF CATECHISTS IN THE CHURCH
As Catechists, one aspect of your mission in the Church is to assist Young Parishioners to grow in the Faith of the Church and in the knowledge of Christ.
To do this effectively, these things are required from you:
- Your faithfulness to your prayer life and your effort in attending Holy Masses.
- Your time of preparation for each class will ensure greater fruit while in class.
- Your joy and enthusiasm of God will make an impact and inspire your students.
To be guided by the spirituality of your Mission in the Church, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (an office of the Vatican), in 1993 issued a document titled Guide for Catechists. In that document, the Bishops of the Church spelled out the spirituality of the catechist. In summary, the spirituality of the catechists is grounded in the spirituality of the laity that flows from baptism. This Spirituality is characterized by the following:
- An Openness to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) –This is an openness to a living Word – the Person of Jesus – to whom we desire deeply to invite others to encounter. Our desire is to be transformed by this relationship and to invite others to His saving transformation.
- An Openness to the Church – Our call to serve as catechists comes from the Church. We’re not lone..…we are sent on a mission that’s not our own, and we’re equipped with a message that has been entrusted to us……..And when you carry out that mission faithfully you shall surely be rewarded at the end.
- An Openness to the World –The Holy Spirit was poured forth so that we could proclaim the Gospel to all nations. With that in mind, catechists are called to be uniquely in touch with the needs of the world – especially the “world” of those we teach.
- A Coherence and Authenticity of Life – As catechists, we don’t teach a subject or a skill set. We invite others into a way of life that defines who we are. Being a catechist is not a “hat” that we put on and take off. The simple fact is, we can’t teach what (or who) we don’t know. (As St. Thomas Aquinas would say: “Nome Dat quod non habet” meaning: You cannot give what you don’t have). To this effect, we have to strive to authentically know Jesus, to know his message, and to know the Catholic way of life that leads to him.
- A Missionary Zeal – the vocation of the catechist takes the baptismal call to proclaim God’s Word and heightens its intensity. For catechists, the desire to share Christ with others is powerful, it’s almost overwhelming. We can’t help but to preach the Gospel to others! Our hearts burn within us and we’re compelled to share faith with others. As a result, our spirituality has to keep that flame burning.
- A devotion to Mary – From experience, good catechists learn from other catechists. But we have the best example to learn from in our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was the first teacher of Jesus and the first disciple. Mary is a “living catechism” and a “model of catechists.” The spirituality of ALL the baptized is enriched by devotion to Mary, but, as catechists, our ministry is especially enriched by devotion to the Blessed Mother
The call to the ministry of the catechist is a vocation, an interior call which you have responded with Incredible Gratitude, Hope and Passion from your Hearts to be God’s Instrument in assisting Young Parishioners to grow in the Faith of the Church and in the knowledge of Christ……..Always keep this in mind that the Bishops and the Priests are the Custodians of Our Faith and the Sacraments of the Church and by extension you are also called to assist in teaching that Faith to the Young Adult in the Church
Dear Friends in the Faith….. Always keep in your mind these words of Jesus as you teach the Faith: “So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be the least in the kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, whoever OBEYS THEM AND TEACHES OTHERS to do the same will be great in the kingdom of Heaven” (Mathew 5:19).
As Catechists, you have this call to obey God’s commandments and the commandments of the Catholic Church and to teach them to the young ones.