On Saturday, Jan. 31, 66 catechists — teachers of the faith in parish religious education programs and in Catholic elementary schools — will celebrate completing a level of certification being offered through the Office of Religious Education. Forty-six catechists will complete certification for Level 1; 20 for Level 2.
The bishop, as the chief catechist of his diocese, and the one who is specifically responsible for the transmission of the faith, “should … ensure that [catechists] proclaim the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ and hand on the complete and accurate deposit of faith” (National Directory for Catechesis, 54, B). Even though “[c]atechesis is the responsibility of the entire Christian community” and is a collaborative effort, the Office for Religious Education is the “means which the Bishop … utilizes to direct and moderate … the catechetical activities of the diocese.” (NDC, 59, C)
For many years, the Camden Diocese’s Office for Religious Education has been offering courses in theology and methodology to assists catechists in their catechetical ministry that they might be able to fulfill their duties well and fully. “Catechists are called to continual conversion and growth in their faith and … to on-going spiritual formation” says the NDC (55, C).
In 1999, the bishops of the United States published the document, “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us (42) which again stated that the catechetical ministry is “essential to who we are and what we do as Church and must be situated not at the periphery of the Church’s educational mission, but at its center.” Thus, catechists who proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, hold a central and honored role in the work of the Church and therefore, have a right to expect quality support and assistance from their diocese.
We congratulate, thank and celebrate our catechists being certified this year. We know that they, and their families, have made many sacrifices for them to be able to acquire their level of certification. The catechists have indeed manifested both dedication and determination to be the best catechists they can be. For those being certified at Level 1, they have taken 60 hours of in-seat classes, taken time for outside reading, study, prayer and reflection while striving to make age-appropriate applications of their learning for their students. Catechists attaining a Level 2 Certificate have given an additional 48 hours of in-seat class work, plus outside reading, study, prayer, reflection and application.
Only with sound and quality educational and spiritual formation can catechists truly fulfill their goal and mission which is to lead others to an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Msgr. James R. Tracy, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church, Sicklerville, will preside and be the homilist at the 10 a.m. Mass on Jan. 31. Dominican Sister Peggy Devlin will be the guest speaker following a reception in the basement of church.
Elizabeth O. Field is interim director, Office of Religious Education, Diocese of Camden.