The insight contained in the document Evangelii Nuntiandi that evangelisation is not so much about bringing people into the faith but about engaging those who are in the faith to live that faith in everyday life, in every strata of society, is at the core of the catechetical ministry. This is a significant element of our vision for adult education in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.
Catechising the young is a challenge in our age. They are a generation that is very different to the one that is trying to communicate with them. Growth in faith, particularly up to late adolescence, is about developing an ever clearer sense of God’s presence and action and what it means to participate in the redemptive act.
In his audience with participants in the International Conference on Catechesis in September 2013, Pope Francis remarked, “Catechesis is a pillar for education in the faith and it needs good catechists! Being a good catechist ‘begins with Christ’ which means not being ‘afraid to go with Christ to the peripheries’.” Later on in his address, he said it is not proselytism that makes the Church grow but testimony. He made a distinction between ‘working’ as a catechist and ‘being’ a catechist, noting that the latter has to do with life. A person guides others to Jesus through their words, life and testimony. ‘Being’ a catechist requires love, an ever stronger love for Christ, and love for his people. And this begins with Christ.
If we as local Church want to truly embrace, live out and pass on the faith to others in our parishes, then we will have to take a more integrated, conscious approach to not only living out the faith but also to getting people to own their faith through a process such as the shared Christian praxis. This process involves conversation and discussion when teaching the faith. It is also described as bringing faith to life and life to faith. The unexplored life is not worth living, and can become a burden when we teach and catechise out of it.
Our dream as a Catechetical Team is for Total Parish Catechesis in all the parishes in this Archdiocese. It is a paradigm shift since it involves moving away from the tradition of sending children and young adults to religion classes to be catechised in preparation for the sacraments to empowering every adult in the community to accept responsibility for passing on the faith to the next generation as an ongoing process, from womb to tomb, by their very lives.
All ministries in parishes will need to recognise that they are all called and entrusted to educate in faith. This is another paradigm shift and will call for creative thinking since for far too long ministries have been seen as being independent of each other.
The journey continues.
Sr Juliet Rajah CHF
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office