Many Catholic adults have committed themselves to continuous edification in all that the faith has to offer. It is a journey which brings great sustenance to those who at times may feel bewildered and overwhelmed by the everyday challenges of life.
Most of us are aware by now, that the Archdiocese has embarked on the restructuring of the confirmation programme, commencing with the re-training of all the instructors. The procedure also involves standardising the material used for teaching this particular sacrament, so that there is one formal instructional template for the entire Archdiocese. This is the Church’s’ response to assisting the catechists in deepening their faith as they continue to journey.
Faith formation is the process by which we learn and grow in the Catholic faith. It is a life long journey that helps to broaden our knowledge on the Church’s traditions, doctrines, rituals, and scriptural teachings, in order to bring us closer to living a faith-filled life in Jesus Christ.
To effectively achieve this, teachers of the faith must be well formed and informed. This requires a continuous commitment to their own faith development, paralleled with their own human experiences. It is within these experiences we see ourselves in light of the scripture, the Church’s traditions, and the secular world. These experiences lend to our interpretations of various manifestations in our everyday lives.
The ability to relate our lives to our faith-belief systems, is pivotal to the foundation of our individual formation. “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.. stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27) Although Thomas journeyed with Christ, he could not relate to what he was experiencing and it took more than Jesus’s words to convince him of what was taking place at that moment.
It is very possible that the other disciples appreciated Thomas’s dilemma, as they too might have been challenged by what was taking place before them. Jesus’ subsequent actions was necessary for them to truly believe as well. This is how faith is realistically passed on; this is how we catechise or teach, by the lives we live; being an example to others.
In the Roman Catholic Church, formal catechesis or teaching takes place through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist/First Communion, Confirmation and Rites of Christian Initiation – RCIA for adults. The sacraments are the faith pillars of the Church through which one can become a full member of the Catholic faith and of the Catholic Community. Catholic Christian formation or instructions takes place at each stage and is specific to each sacrament.
Here are some terms used in faith formation which one may be familiar with:
Catechesis – According to the Catechism of The Catholic Church (CCC#5), “catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view of initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life.”
Catechists – Persons who are called to formally teach and pass on the faith or catechise. They are responsible for bringing those they teach, into the fullness of Christian life (Catholic).
Catechumens – Persons who have not been previously baptised in any denomination or Christian faith recognised by the Catholic Church and .are interested in receiving formal instructions for the preparation of entering into the Catholic faith.
Candidate – Anyone wanting to become a member of the faith who have been already baptised in a different Christian faith or denomination, recognised and validated by the Catholic Church.
Catechumenate – The state or process of preparation for receiving the rites of the Sacraments of Initiation or RCIA
In this Archdiocese, the Catechetical Office headed by the Directress for Catechetics, Sr. Juliet Rajah CHF, is responsible for the development and organisation of all sacramental faith formation programmes. The Office also arranges and provides courses and workshops for the formal training of Catechists.
The parish priest is the chief catechist of his parish and is responsible for delegating and overseeing the implementation of all catechetical programmes, especially those related to the sacraments of initiation. He is also responsible for appointing members of the parish as catechists for each programme.
Continue this journey with us as we explore elements of faith formation in our Archdiocese, with the hope to educate, inform, enlighten and encourage you to get involved.
Become a catechist in your parish today!
By Andrew Fernandez,
Northern Vicariate Catechetical Coordinator
Also featured in Sunday, May 21st 2017 Issue of the Catholic News, page 17