This year, the Archdiocese of Detroit is celebrating Catechetical Sunday with the theme Growing as Disciples of Jesus . Grow is the second stage of the Encounter, Grow, Witness paradigm as outlined in Unleash the Gospel , and is the focus of this year’s Parish Day of Renewal and through the Advent season. Each year, Catechetical Sunday offers a chance for each of us to rededicate ourselves to the mission of catechesis as a community of faith.
Who is responsible for catechesis? “The whole Christian community is responsible for the ministry of catechesis, but each one according to his particular condition in the Church: ordained ministers, consecrated persons, lay faithful” ( Directory for Catechesis , 111 ). Pastors help the faithful to connect the teaching of the Church with the liturgy, service, community, and the mission of the Church. Parents and grandparents witness their faith to their children and grandchildren in the family and community, and the parish community models and supports their efforts. Some people experience a particular calling from God to share the faith in a public way as catechists in RCIA, faith formation programs, and in schools. Each of us bears responsibility to preserve the continuity of teaching from one generation to the next.
It is not “business as usual” at the start of this school year, and parishes have chosen a variety of ways to offer faith formation this year – in person, online, at home, or a hybrid of these – to best accommodate the needs of the parish community. So, in this unusual year of COVID-19, what are some of the ways we can creatively celebrate Catechetical Sunday and honor and encourage those who teach the faith to our children and adults?
- Commission catechists, parents, guardians, and grandparents, and the parish community at a Sunday Mass or another gathering, either in person or online. Present or send a Certificate of Commissioning signed by the Pastor and Faith Formation Leader.
- Print the prayer cards provided for catechists, parents, grandparents, and guardians, and for families. Make them available at church, in school, in faith formation sessions, or send them to each family along with encouragement to pray the prayers daily. Include a reminder of Mass times, upcoming events, and invitation to participate, as well as a way to request prayer, whether it’s a card to drop off at the parish, a phone line, or space on your parish website to add intentions.
- Use scheduled events as an opportunity to encourage parents. Stress that you are here to accompany them in teaching the faith at home. Provide suggestions for creating a prayer space at home, prayer starters, Bible stories, and ways to share their own faith stories with their children.
- Gather catechists in person or online and remind them of their important role. Encourage them and provide them with something to foster their spiritual growth, such as a Scripture quote, prayer journal, or image of Jesus. For those who are uncomfortable teaching in person, invite them to call families to find out how they are doing and to pray with and for them. Allow enough time to build community with the catechists and to reflect on how they see the Lord active in their ministry.
- Provide opportunities to encounter Jesus in a personal way, such as a holy hour, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, online prayer gathering, or Scripture meditation.
- Encourage grandparents in their important role. Provide suggestions of ways to share their faith with their grandchildren. Create an opportunity for them to share ideas with one another, and to pray with and for families.
- Return to the Catechetical Sunday theme Growing as Disciples of Jesus regularly throughout the year and offer opportunities for catechists and families to reflect on how they are growing as disciples, both individually and as a community of faith.
Finally, pray daily for your pastor, catechists, and families. Entrust them and all your faith formation efforts to the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord to nurture the faith growth of each and every one.