THE INDISPENSABLE ROLE OF THE CATECHIST
THOUGHTS FROM ANTIQUUM MINISTERIUM: MOTU PROPRIO BY POPE FRANCIS – INSTITUTING THE MINISTRY OF CATECHIST
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis says that the New Way of being Church in the New Millennium, must be Synodal. Hence, we must understand what the requirements of Synodality involves. It is a “Walking together, in Communion, in order to fulfill the Mission of the Church”. Actually, the theme for the upcoming 2023 Synod of Bishops is: FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH – COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION, AND MISSION.
This way of being Church requires the involvement of all the Baptized members of the Church, i.e., all the Faithful traveling on a “common road”, engaging in dialogue and consultation between Clerics and Lay People that leads to a consensus, not as a agreement by majority vote or the loudest voices, but as a common understanding of decisions informed by Faith, that will ensure the the Commission of Jesus Christ: “GO INTO THE WHOLE WORLD AND PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS” (Mk 16:15), is fulfilled by the Church through the active involvement of all the Baptized in evangelization.
Synodality reaffirms the indispensable role of the Catechist in the life of the Church. As teacher, the Catechist facilitates growth in Knowledge of the Scriptures and the Teachings of the Church.
The ministry of Catechist in the Church can be traced back to the reference in the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (12:28-31): “Some people God has designated in the Church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues…”.
The Gospel of Luke shows the importance of the Teacher, it begins: “I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received” (Lk 1:3-4).
This is an indication from the Gospel Writer that a specific form of instruction is necessary for the baptized to grow in knowledge and understanding of religious truth.
The Church relies on men and women to carry out this ministry:
1. Men and women who are obedient to the working of the Holy Spirit,
2. Men and women who devote their lives to the building up of the Church.
As Baptized persons, Catechists fulfill the ministry of transmitting in an organized and structured way, the Word of God in the Scriptures, the related teachings of the Church in a way that can be related to different situations in life.
The Catechist in accord with the Church must realize that their ministry requires a personalspirituality, charism, and commitment in the mission of evangelization.
I call on you, as your Bishop, to make a commitment as Catechist that will be an indication that you understand the priority and centrality to the religious, spiritual, and liturgical, ongoing formation of the members of the Body of Christ.
The Bishop is the primary catechist in his Diocese, a responsibility the Bishop shares with his Priests; but in a way that complements the particular responsibility of parents for the Christian formation of their children. Integrally, Lay Men and Women are called by virtue of their baptism to cooperate in the work of catechesis. Your presence is most indispensable for evangelization in a context that requires genuine interaction with young people, the need for creative methodologies, and the use of resources that can adapt the proclamation of the Gospel in a way that will bring about transformation.
May the Holy Spirit be your inspiration so that with zeal and commitment you will offer yourselves for this indispensable ministry of our Church!
+ Most Rev. Kenneth D. Richards
Archbishop of Kingston