GDC 233: “Pastoral care of catechists in a Particular Church”

The next twenty numbered sections cover Part Five’s CHAPTER II, “Formation for the service of catechesis.” Today’s section is titled, “Pastoral care of catechists in a Particular Church,” and offers seven points. Frankly, some of these are very interesting, and I’m not quite sure what to make of these suggestions. Perhaps the readers here might offer some commentary on this. First the text:

233. To ensure the working of the catechetical ministry in a local Church, it is fundamental to have adequate pastoral care of catechists. Several elements must be kept in mind in this respect. Indeed efforts must be made:

– to encourage in parishes and Christian communities vocations for catechesis. Today, because the needs of catechesis are so varied, it is necessary to promote different kinds of catechists. “There is therefore a need for specialised catechists”. (Guide for Catechists 5) In this respect selection criteria must be established;

– to try to provide a certain number of full time catechists so that these can devote their time intensely and in a more stable way to catechesis, (In missionary territories (Catechesi Tradendae 66) the Second Vatican Council distinguishes two types of catechist: full time catechists and auxiliary catechists (cf. Ad Gentes 17). This distinction is taken up in the Guide for Catechists 4, which refers to them as full-time catechists and part-time catechists.) in addition to fostering part-time catechists who are likely to be more numerous in the ordinary course of events;

– to organize a more balanced distribution of catechists, among the various groups who require catechesis. Awareness of the needs of adult catechesis and catechesis for young people, for example, can help to establish a greater balance in relation to the number of catechists who work with children and adolescents.

– to foster animators of catechetical activity with responsibility at diocesan level, in regions and in parishes. (Cf. Guide for Catechists 5)

– to organize adequately the formation of catechists, both in relation to basic training and continuing formation.

– to attend to the personal and spiritual needs of catechists as well as to the group of catechists as such. This activity is principally and fundamentally the responsibility of the priests of the respective Christian communities.

– to co-ordinate catechists with other pastoral workers in Christian communities, so that the entire work of evangelization will be consistent and to ensure that catechists will not be isolated from or unrelated to the life of the community.

Some comments:

This is one of the first times I’ve run across the connection of “vocation” with a particular ministry role. The authors of the GDC certainly take the role of catechist seriously.

Consider “a certain number of catechists.” Does that mean a minimal complememnt in eveyr parish, and does it foresee multiple “professional” catechists in a parish?

What would that “more balanced distribution” look like? In my last parish with a school, consider that about thirty educators served about ten percent of the parish population; one staff member devoted about a fourth of her time to about two dozen people in RCIA. The numbe rof people dedicated to adult formation was closer to the latter catechist number than the former. We know the GDC is quite serious about adult formation. Would the typical American parish, with or without a school, be considered to have a “balanced” approach to catechesis?

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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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