A Religious Education student receives Communion from Fr. Anson on Catechetical Sunday in Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown.
A Religious Education student receives Communion from Fr. Anson on Catechetical Sunday in Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown.

Persons serving in catechetical ministry should be recognized for the special and important job they do and know “that they have the love and support of their parish behind them.”

Such were the sentiments expressed by Cynthia Craft, director of religious education in St. Pius X Parish, Forked River, after witnessing parish’s observance of Catechetical Sunday Sept. 19. Father Richard Basznianin, pastor, presided over a special ceremony in which he commissioned  for their ministerial work and offered them a special blessing of their hands as they look to begin the 2021-2022 catechetical year and “their work in this mission.”

St. Pius X Parish was among the numerous parishes from around the four-county Diocese to join in the national celebration of Catechetical Sunday during which catechists, those who teach the Catholic faith to students in religious education programs or Catholic school settings as well as those who serve in adult faith formation capacities, were acknowledged for their service to their parish and school communities.

Catechetical Sunday, which is held annually on the third Sunday in September, was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The theme for the 2021 observance was “Say the World and My Soul Shall be Healed.”

“This past year has highlighted the urgent need for healing – physical, spiritual, emotional – in ourselves and in our world,” stated the USCCB, which developed the theme. “As our world struggles to heal, complete healing is not possible without Jesus as the Divine Physician.”

Similar to St. Pius X Parish, the catechists who serve in Our Lady of Sorrows/St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, were commissioned and blessed by Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, pastor, who then gifted each with a copy of the new “Directory for Catechesis,” which was published last year, along with a copy of “A Prayer for Catechists,” according to Mariyam Francis, director of religious education.

The catechists in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, had two reasons to celebrate Sept. 19. Along with Catechetical Sunday, they joined their fellow parishioners in commemorating  the 50th anniversary of the founding of their parish.

Prior to bestowing the blessing upon the catechists who were present at Mass, Msgr. Sam Sirianni, rector, also acknowledged the parents, the primary educators of their children.

“Since we have been digital for the last year and for this year, I also invite the parents who will be teaching their children at home to also stand and receive the blessing,” he said.

Photo Gallery: Catechetical Sunday

The religious education program in Mary, Mother of Church Parish, Bordentown, kicked off the new catechetical year with food, fun and faith as the parish hosted a “Meet and Greet” the week before on Sept 11. The evening, sponsored by various parish organizations included a bounce house, face painting, an ice cream truck, music and games.

Then, on Catechetical Sunday, the religious education students began a new tradition in which they attended Mass together, as they will do each week prior to their classes. They had a chance to greet Father Martin O’Reilly, pastor, who discussed his hopes for the youth in his parish.

“My wish for all of you here is to learn more about God and to enjoy being here. I really want you to feel at home here, I really want you to feel that this is a wonderful place to be. I really hope that if you don’t know the people that you’re sitting with beforehand, that you will get to know them,” said Father O’Reilly. “This is a wonderful opportunity for you not only to make friends, but to make new faith friends–people that you can talk to about God,  people that you can talk to about your faith and people that you can talk to about what you’re learning about in class. This is not just about school and books, this is about friendship, this about family, this is about faith.”