During the month of September we celebrated catechists and honoured them for their contribution in passing on the faith to the young people in parishes and schools. As we continue the catechetical journey it is important that the issue of faith formation for catechists and teachers be highlighted. If we are to be faithful to tradition and upkeep the professionalism of educators then we also must find time for ongoing faith formation.
The success of a catechist’s work depends on the depth of his/her spirituality. The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) states that the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ (#80). The GDC further states that, “any pastoral activity for the carrying out of which there are not at hand persons with the right formation and preparation will necessarily come to nothing. The working tools themselves cannot be effective unless used by catechists who have been rightly formed.” #108. Catechists are the living text for their students.
Faith formation does not end with the acquisition of doctrinal knowledge. It is ongoing, and calls for daily conversion as we strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Catechetical documents list six fundamental tasks of catechesis. Each task corresponds to an aspect of faith in Jesus and catechists should strive toward this also. They are:
• Promoting knowledge of the faith
• Liturgical Education
• Moral Formation
• Teaching to Pray
• Education for community life
• Missionary Initiation
These also correspond to the “Think Four” formula of Knowledge of the Faith; Formation based on that knowledge; Commitment flowing from knowledge and faith formation and finally Mission. An encounter with Christ invites us to move from just that to be a disciple and a steward as we bring about God’s reign.
Effective catechesis of young people should incorporate a methodology suitable to the age group and include memorisation of doctrine and especially basic prayers of the Catholic faith. While this may appear as rote learning there is a value in “remembering”.
Essential to all this is a community formed in the faith to welcome new disciples, since, without a supportive community it is difficult for a new disciple to sustain his/her faith journey. – Archdiocesan Catechetical Office