Do I know God’s love for me? Am I willing to sacrifice myself in building up the Body of Christ? Do I build up the Body of Christ in love? Is my selfless service always filled with love? How do I deal with the frustrations experienced in giving loving service to the Lord?
Eighty catechists of the Eastern Vicariate were asked to ponder these questions as they gathered on Saturday, September 29, at St Francis Church, Sangre Grande to both contemplate and celebrate all aspects of the selfless service that their mission requires. Occasion was a catechetical rally planned and facilitated by the team of Parish Coordinators of the majority of the 11 parishes comprising the Eastern Vicariate. The rally theme – Serving Selflessly –was selected by these coordinators after prayerful reflection, and the occasion itself aimed to facilitate the sharing of information and food for reflection; the provision of encouragement and support as well as the opportunity for catechists to publicly recommit to service during Catechetical Month.
Registration commenced promptly at 8:30 a.m. and shortly after this, the Eastern Vicar, Fr Derek Anton addressed participants on the theme. Fr Anton’s address provided an analysis of the root of the particular service of catechesis and also explored the sacrificial nature of joyful service in the Church generally. This address was mentally stimulating and also deeply touched the hearts of all present in its emphasis on the need for love to drive our service: love of God and love of the person served. Fr Anton emphasised that even with the acknowledgement that service often requires endurance and perseverance, such service in love must never become an onerous task. He stressed the essence of the communal nature of the service that is carried out and emphasised that the catechist’s joyful building of community is essential to the Church. The Vicar thanked catechists for their vital service and concluded by challenging us all to use our talents for the community as we move from the teaching of the world that emphasises a destructive self-love to a love for others that asks how do we love God and neighbour; how do we give to others.
Catechists responded to the five questions in a break-out session and reported their responses to the main group that reconvened after a short break. The responses to the questions that were mainly presented by the many young, vibrant catechists present, all reinforced the nature of the commitment necessary for selfless service, even as they pointed to the challenges inherent in providing such service. A commitment ceremony that invited all catechists to recommit and to receive the prayerful support of the community present followed this session.
At the end Parish Coordinators received Certificates of Appreciation for the catechists from Fr Anton, which they were asked to pass on to the catechists in their respective parishes. The session concluded with a shared lunch and wishes expressed by many for a repeat of the rally that seemed to truly inspire and revive us all. – Rhonda Earle, Eastern Vicariate Catechetical Coordinator, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office