by Leonora de Verteuil, retired teacher/catechist
Many of you know the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’
Well, we are all ‘villagers’ in every sense of the word.
Think of it: many different persons/villagers have contributed and continue to contribute to the person you and I have become in the world.
Today, I look at ‘child’ as being the individual, and the village as being the community in which we live or frequent. In our scenario, this includes our Church.
In our modern world it seems as though we are heading for a ‘virtual village’ because everyone is so busy and we have no time for reality.
The catechist is in the midst of this village, and plays a significant part as one of the players in raising that individual, and more so the Catholic Christian. We impact on the individual.
Before Vatican II, the main catechists were the priests, religious brothers and sisters/nuns. Now, all of us are called to take on the role, some more than others.
So what is our MISSION as Catechists? (by the way, the word ‘catechist’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘to echo’)
Catechists are called to echo/repeat the Good News that we have received from others and this goes back to the first disciples, and to Jesus Himself.
If the Good News had not been repeated and passed on, we would not have it today. So as catechists, we have to pass it on and do so as Jesus taught.
Romans 10:14-15 tells us “How can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to proclaim Him? And how can people proclaim Him unless they are sent? As it is written, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS!”
We are bearers of the Good News and take our mission from the Chief Catechist, Jesus Christ. Remember when he went into the synagogue, and they handed Him the scroll. What did he read?…from Isaiah 61:1-2
“The spirit of the Lord IS UPON me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and announce the Lord’s year of mercy.” Luke 4:18-19
(Translation from Christian Community Bible)
That sums up our mission as catechists. As we continue to read the Scriptures we are given further instructions. I once heard the Acronym for the word ‘bible’:
Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth
Therefore catechists (and here I talk to the entire church community), your MISSION – if you choose to accept it – can be summed up as:
- To help people grow in faith, to assist them in developing and nurturing their personal relationship with God.
- To help people become part of the Catholic Christian community/village of believers by forming significant relationships in faith, as well as by taking part in rituals of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
- To help persons acquire a Catholic identity, a Catholic way of looking at the world through a network of shared meanings. This involves the teaching of Catholic doctrine, prayers, scripture stories and practices.
(Taken from The New Catechist Handbook by Riley and Rau)
So are you ready?
For those who are hearing a voice saying, “Find out more and join up”, there are persons around after Mass who can give you more information, as well as application forms to become a catechist. You can do it.
Remember: Christ has no body now but yours.
Will you be His body?