Pope Benedict XVI has called all Catholics to be missionaries, “to renew the faith, deepen our sacramental worship and be a witness to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.”  To celebrate those thousands of men and women who have recognized this baptismal call, the Catholic Church designates the third Sunday in September as Catechetical Sunday.

Sponsored by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, this year’s Catechetical Sunday, scheduled for Sept. 16 in parishes nationwide, will have as its theme “Catechists and Teachers as Agents of the New Evangelization”.

“Evangelization is the Church’s deepest identity. [It] brings the good news of the Gospel to all who seek the life-giving message of faith in Jesus Christ,” declared Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisc., chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. “Catechesis nourishes, forms and deepens the faith one receives through the ministry of the Church.” 

Bishop Ricken noted the USCCB offers a wealth of materials to aid parishes in its preparation for Catechetical Sunday on its website http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/. Numerous resources in both English and Spanish offer theological reflections, catechist in-service instruction, prayer cards and other resources for both parish and family that are filled with faith and practical suggestions on spreading the Good News.

To aid in spreading the Good News on the parish level, the site offers sample pastor notes, outreach projects and bulletin inserts on topics such as welcoming back lapsed Catholics, promoting evangelization at home and abroad, ecclesial movements, and engaging youth and adolescents to discipleship.

The importance of evangelization in family life also is recognized by the bishops. Prayers for family commitment, teaching aids, and a primer for an in-home family retreat entitled “Parents, grandparents, and siblings as evangelizers” reinforce the notion that parents are their children’s first evangelizers.

Articles by young adults offer their own perspective. Witnessing to Christ in parishes and schools, service to the poor and inclusivity are discussed through their unique lens of faith in action. Promotional materials and clipart are also available.

“Each one of us in virtue of our baptism is called to live our faith and to bear witness to the Gospel in our families, friends, parish communities and society, said Bishop Ricken. “To share in the Church’s mission of Evangelization and Catechesis is to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.” 

The U.S. bishops began Catechetical Sunday in the 1970s to recognize and affirm the work of catechists and teachers; resources were offered online beginning in 2009. The theme for Catechetical Sunday 2013 will be “Open the Door of Faith”.