GDC 232: “Various types of catechists particularly necessary today”

Wrapping up Part Five, Chapter I on various “agents” of catechesis. Some of these you may recognize as staff members in your parish or as lay people who serve in any of these various needs:

232. The figure of the catechist in the Church, has different modes, just as, the needs of catechesis are varied.

– “The catechists in missionary countries”, (Catechesi Tradendae 66b; cf. Guide for Catechists) to whom this title is applied in a special way: “Churches that are flourishing today would not have been built up without them”. (Catechesi Tradendae 66b) There are those who have the “specific responsibility for catechesis”; (Guide for Catechists 4) and there are those who collaborate in various forms of apostolate. (Guide for Catechists 4)

– In some Churches of ancient Christian tradition but where there is a shortage of clergy, there is need for catechists in some way analogous to those of missionary countries. This requires confronting urgent needs: the community animation of small rural populations deprived of the constant presence of a priest, the helpfulness of a missionary presence “in areas of large cities”. (Catechesi Tradendae 45; cf. Redemptoris Missio 37, ab, par. 2)

– In countries of Christian tradition which require a “new evangelization” (Redemptoris Missio 33) the catechist for young people and the catechist for adults become indispensable, in promoting the process of initiatory catechesis. The catechists must provide for continuing catechesis. In such tasks the role of the priest is equally fundamental.

– The catechist for children and adolescents continues to be indispensable. This catechist has the delicate mission of giving “the first notions of catechism and preparation for the sacrament of Penance, for First Communion and Confirmation”. (Catechesi Tradendae 66a) This responsibility is all the more pressing today if children and adolescents “do not receive adequate religious formation within the family”. (Catechesi Tradendae 66a; cf. Catechesi Tradendae 42)

– A catechist who must also be formed is the catechist for pre-sacramental encounter, (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 96) for adults on occasions such as the Baptism or the First Holy Communion of their children or the celebration of the sacrament of Matrimony. It is a specific and original task comprising the welcome of the faithful, of primary proclamation to them and of accompanying them on the journey of faith.

– Other catechists urgently needed in delicate human situations include catechists for the old (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 45; cf. General Catechetical Directory 95) who need a presentation of the Gospel adapted to their condition; for handicapped or disabled people who require a special pedagogy, (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 91; cf. Catechesi Tradendae 41) in addition to their total integration into the community; for migrants and those marginalized by the evolution of modern society. (Catechesi Tradendae 45a)

– Other types of catechists may also be advisable. Every local Church, by analysing her own cultural and religious situation, will discover her own needs and will realistically foster those kinds of catechists which she needs. The organization and orientation of the formation of catechists is a fundamental responsibility.

Commentary:

- It’s not so easy, especially in mission apostolates, to separate catechetical activities from other forms of service. The same might be said of many individuals serving First World parishes.

- On paper, the priority for adult catechists is self-evident.

- Other roles you notice: school teachers, RCIA sponsors, and also those who assist engaged couples and parents of baptized infants.

Anything you see in your parishes not listed here? Anything you think should be provided?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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