300 catechists ready to be certified
We have a mission as a community of faith
By Dr. Verónica Rayas
Religious Formation Director
This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 15, and will focus on the theme “Open the Door of Faith.” Those whom the community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is also an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith. El Paso Diocese Religious Formation director Veronica Rayas said, “We have approximately 2600 catechists and assistants in the diocese.” Rayas noted “We want to reiterate to people in the parishes that we are all called to catechize and evangelize. Parents, grandparents, godparents, family members and neighbors all have a catechetical role to play in handing on the faith.” Catechist certification is scheduled Nov. 3, at St. Patrick Cathedral with Bishop Mark Seitz, she said. A revised certification program for catechists was initiated in the fall of 2011. A catechist completes 65 hours in Theology, Spirituality and Catechetical Skills to be eligible for certification. “Our program gives catechists a solid theological foundation and nurtures their spirituality as a to respond to the call to be a catechist and provides different methodologies
for how to catechize,” Rayas said. “Since the revised program we have about 300 catechists ready for certification this fall,” she said. “This is an exciting time for our diocese to have catechists who are qualified and prepared to hand on the faith in our parish programs. It is evident that these catechists are committed to the ministry and have a passion for catechesis. ” As part of the certification ceremony catechists will receive a certified catechist pin and credentials to show he or she has completed basic certification. “We take pride in knowing these catechists will be competent and confident in their catechetical ministry,” Rayas said. Parishes who are working towards having 100 percent of their catechists certified are St. Patrick Canutillo, Sts. Peter and Paul, St. Pius X, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Luke and St. Ignatius
Why do we celebrate Catechetical Sunday?
In 1935, the Vatican published On the Better Care and Promotion of Catechetical Education, a document that asks every country to acknowledge the importance of the Church’s teaching ministry and to honor those who serve the Christian community as catechists. For the first few years after Catechetical Sunday was established, national catechetical congresses were held in conjunction with the celebration. Beginning in 1971, the USCCB’s Department of Education began producing materials to help parishes celebrate the event at the local level. When the Committee on Catechesis, now named the Committee of Evangelization and Catechesis, was named by the Conference as a standing Committee, it continued to publish Catechetical Sunday materials each year. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated the third Sunday in September as Catechetical Sunday.
What Does the Word “Catechetical” Mean?
The word might be more familiar than you think. Many Catholics have used the word “catechism” for years, and they know it has something to do with the compendium of the Church’s teachings. The root word, “catechesis,” is from a Greek word meaning “to echo, or resound.” Catechesis is the act of resounding or bringing the Church’s teachings to the world. A catechist is one who teaches in the name of the Church. Why do we have a special day set aside to commission catechists? Catechesis is a distinct and special ministry in the Church. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear, “Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life . . . her inner growth and correspondence with God’s plan depend essentially on catechesis” (no. 7). This ministry of teaching in the name of the Church has a profound dignity, which is why catechists are formally commissioned by the Church. It is only fitting that we set aside a day to highlight this ministry and invite the entire church community to think about our responsibility to share our faith with others.
How are parents, the primary catechists of their children, recognized on Catechetical Sunday?
Parents are truly the primary catechists of their children. They prepare the soil and plant the first seeds of faith. On Catechetical Sunday, we not only highlight the work of catechists in parishes and schools, but we also commend parents and guardians and encourage them to take seriously their role of making their Catholic households a place where faith is passed on to the next generation. This is why the rite of blessing of catechists used on Catechetical Sunday includes an optional blessing of parents and guardians.