September is by far one of the most energizing months in the year, providing us with the sense of a restart, a fresh beginning and new opportunities. These possibilities exist for approximately 35,000 young learners in grades one through eight, their families, and the numerous catechists, parish leaders and priests who participate in religious education programs in parishes across the Diocese of Trenton. 

As we begin 2022-2023 year of faith formation, there is a sense of hope and excitement, having come a long way from the great pause in March of 2020 due to the pandemic.


St. John Paul II wrote a timeless apostolic exhortation, “Catechesi Tradendae (Catechesis in Our Time)” in which he states, “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.”

Parish religious education programs provide this quality faith formation to all those entrusted to them, helping them grow into missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. Program goals lead youth in getting to know Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Gospel, provide opportunities for liturgical and sacramental experiences and engagement with the parish community.

The faith formation of the youth in our parish communities is the responsibility of the entire parish, as we are all called to ministry through our Baptism. You may be asking, “What can I do?”

You can start by praying for the faith formation program provided at the parish and for the formation of these young people. Programs are always seeking new volunteers – a catechist, classroom aide, special needs catechists, hall monitor, program nurse, or office assistant. There are always opportunities to serve.

Coming out of the pandemic, some of the catechists and volunteers took a step down for personal reasons. Faith forma-tion programs are constantly recruiting the faithful to share the message of Jesus Christ with learners. To help you feel confident in this ministry, the Diocese is committed to training and providing faith formation opportunities for both leaders and catechists who serve in parish programs.

For parish leaders, we offer a two-year formation program for new leaders and those who are discerning a leader-ship role in a parish religious education program. In addition, scholarships are available to support parish leaders who wish to continue their education and acquire a higher education degree in theology, pastoral or religious education from an accredited Catholic university or college.  

For parish catechists, who are vital to the mission of faith formation, the Diocese offers several opportunities

for catechist training to assist with the preparation of effective sessions, being confident in their approach and develop-ing skills to engage students.

Growing in knowledge of the faith is also vital for catechists, who must know the truth in order to teach the truth. Courses are available for the catechist to grow in knowledge of the faith to serve the parish communities with conviction. 

Parish religious education programs are a priority in our Diocese. With the diocesan Religious Studies Curriculum and Sacramental Guidelines, the truth of Jesus Christ is being passed on through promoting knowledge of the faith, providing liturgical education, moral formation, education in prayer and an introduction to community life by the countless parish teams across the Diocese.  

On Sept. 18, we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, a time to recognize the faith formation programs, leaders and teams of catechists who pass on the faith. This year’s theme is, “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19).

We are a Eucharistic people, and in Jesus comes hope, the hope for quality faith formation programs that lead to missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. As this new year begins, let us welcome this time as an opportunity to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Are you being called to something greater? Is there someone you know that you could invite to serve in the parish religious education program?  Whether you are currently involved or if this is something you are thinking about, take the next step and find out more about training opportunities for catechists. 

For information on the Parish Catechetical Leadership Program visit Dioceseoftrenton.org/parish-catechetical-leadership-program. For more information on available scholarships go to Dioceseoftrenton.org/catechesis-scholarships.