Denise Contino, diocesan director of Catechesis, shared the following message for Catechetical Sunday, which the Church observes this year Sept. 17.
We can all agree that passing on the faith is a necessary element to the mission of the Church. Who is passing on the faith in your parish? Most likely we think about the parish catechist or the Catholic school teacher, and yes, these folks are passing on the faith. Many other people pass on the faith too: RCIA teams; baptismal ministry teams; youth and young adult teams, Marriage Ministry teams, Parish leaders, Parents, Grandparents, and many more faithful servants.
Annually the Church celebrates all catechists, those passing on the faith, on Catechetical Sunday. This day provides an opportunity to recall that all the baptized have a role in handing on the faith. Passing on the faith can happen in our daily lives, within our families, the larger community, and in the work in the local parish.
Each year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decide on a theme for this day. This year the theme is from the Gospel of Matthew, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened” (Matthew 11:28). This theme helps us see that the Lord Jesus is inviting us to follow him and provides us with the promise that passing on the faith is not to add to our burdens, but to lighten them. The 2023 theme helps us to remember that Catechesis is Jesus himself. It all is from HIM!
A catechist is someone who first is a disciple, a follower of Jesus. A catechist trusts in Jesus, finds rest in him, will witness the faith and accompany others on their journey to know Jesus.
All catechists who pass on the faith require faith formation, to be engaged in a life of prayer and continually develop the skills and tools needed to pass on the faith effectively.
The task of passing on the faith, especially to young people, is a priority for the Diocese of Trenton. This task is taken seriously to ensure that all catechists serving in parishes and schools are properly trained and formed in the faith. The Department of Catechesis provides formation opportunities for all catechists, whether it is basic training for a new catechist or ongoing formation for the catechist seeking to develop advanced skills.
The “Certificate in Catechesis” is for catechists in parishes and schools that will provide them with the basic training needed to pass on the faith to our young people. In addition, the Diocese supports ongoing formation through formation days, partnerships with both the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute of Church Life and The Catechetical Institute of Franciscan University.
Take a moment this year as we celebrate Catechetical Sunday and pray for all the catechists passing on the faith. Perhaps God is calling you to pass on the faith in your parish. Contact your local parish and ask how you can assist them with the responsibility of passing on the faith. In my experience, a wise pastor would always say ‘many hands make light work.’ You may be thinking “but I am not qualified to be a catechist.” But remember God does not call the qualified; he qualifies those he calls.