Part of the Catechetical Sunday observance in St. James Church, Pennington, included a teaching on Adoration by Father Steve Sansevere, pastor. The teaching, which took place following the 10 a.m. Mass, brought together students in the parish's religious education program and their families. Hal Brown photo
Part of the Catechetical Sunday observance in St. James Church, Pennington, included a teaching on Adoration by Father Steve Sansevere, pastor. The teaching, which took place following the 10 a.m. Mass, brought together students in the parish's religious education program and their families. Hal Brown photo
The three parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Hopewell Valley enjoyed a dual celebration Sept. 18.

Since it was Catechetical Sunday, the men and women who serve as catechists in the religious education program in St. James, Pennington; St. George, Titusville, and St. Alphonsus, Hopewell, as well as the parents of the students, were recognized for their ministry of handing on the Catholic faith to the children entrusted to their care.

Photo Galleries: Catechetical Sunday in St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, and St. James Parish, Pennington.

Following the 10 a.m. Mass in St. James Church, Pennington, all the catechists and parents who were in attendance stood to receive a special blessing by Father Steve Sansevere, pastor.

“We had 16 religious education catechists, 10 classroom aides and adult leaders, six Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults team members and leaders from all parish ministries present, as well as dozens of parents "who were blessed as being the first and most important catechist for their child(ren),” said Lisa Ann Limongello, parish catechetical leader.

The Catholic Church throughout the nation marked its annual celebration of Catechetical Sunday Sept. 18, which acknowledged the importance of the Church’s teaching ministry and honors those serving the Christian community as catechists. This year's Catechetical Sunday theme was "This is my body given for you (Luke 22:19)". 

In parishes around the Diocese of Trenton, catechists, along with their catechetical leaders and volunteers, were called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. There were parishes that held special commissioning ceremonies during Mass and parish priests bestowed blessings upon their catechists. Some parishes extended their Catechetical Sunday observances with breakfasts, brunches and special tokens of appreciation.

“Catechists are so monumentally important to the work we do in our parishes and in our programs,” Limongello said, reflecting on how “the relationship and trust that is built between a catechist and their student is the backbone to a growing parish community.

“Students, especially our kids and teens, need to feel connected, they need to feel heard and they want to know they can trust their catechists to provide them with the foundations to a just and caring faith,” she said.

Commending how the catechists work incredibly hard to foster an inviting environment and to form relationships with their students and their families, Limongello said, “Our catechists are rock stars. Their selflessness and compassion for our believers of all ages are worth recognizing every single day.”

The second highlight of the day marked the kickoff of the Eucharistic Revival in the three communities.

“We felt it was important to put our religious education program and participating families at the very heart of the revival,” said Limongello. Along with spotlighting the catechists and parents, she said that Catechetical Sunday “felt like the perfect day to open the eyes of our students and the entire congregation to the very beauty that is Jesus Christ and his sacrifice.”

The Eucharistic Revival opened with a teaching Adoration Service presided over by Father Sansevere.

“Father Steve’s main goal was to highlight the importance of Adoration, what we do during Adoration and Benediction, what the priests and deacons are doing and the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice to us,” Limongello said, noting that there were some 300 people in attendance, including 150 children in grades one through five, as well as a few older students serving as guides for their younger counterparts. Also invited were the religious education families who participated in the parish’s summer religious education program and students in grades sixth through eighth grade.

“We had a mix of very young kids to high-schoolers so we wanted to make sure we stuck to the basics this first time around,” she said.

Limongello believes the approach of turning Adoration into a teaching experience proved beneficial for the parish communities of St. James, St. George and St. Alphonsus.

 “The students loved getting to sit around the altar and see Jesus up close in the monstrance, and many of them had smiles on their faces when Father Steve was talking about how important Jesus was to our faith and how his sacrifice means so much to us,” she said.

Most important for the students, Limongello said, was hearing from their pastor tell them “that Jesus loved each and every one of them and they could always talk to him about anything.”