Today’s section offers some interesting and practical ideas for the parish. We start with the responsibility of the pastor or parish priests to bring lay catechists to an adult spiritual and religious maturity:
246. Among the ways of forming catechists, those of their own Christian community are all important. It is in this community that catechists test their own vocation and continually nourish their own apostolic awareness. The figure of the priest is fundamental in the task of assuring their progressive maturation as believers and witnesses.*
* “Priests and religious ought to assist the lay faithful in their formation. In this regard the Synod Fathers have invited priests and candidates for Orders “to be prepared carefully so they are ready to foster the vocation and mission of the lay faithful’”. Christifedeles Laici 61.
John Paul II was rather explicit on this point, it would seem.
Four types of formation follow:
247. A Christian community can develop various types of formative activities for their own catechists:
a) One of these is the constant fostering of the ecclesial vocation of catechists by keeping alive in them an awareness of being sent by the Church;
b) It is also important to ensure catechists have a mature faith, through the usual means by which the Christian community educates in the faith its own pastoral workers and its more committed lay members. (Cf. Christifedeles Laici 61) When the faith of catechists is not yet mature it is advisable that they should participate in a catechumenal programme designed for young people and adults. This can be organized by the community itself, or one specifically created for them.
c) Immediate preparation for catechesis, done with a group of catechists, is an excellent means of formation especially when accompanied with an evaluation of all that has been experienced in the sessions of catechesis.
d) Within the community other formative activities can also be realized: courses in awareness of catechesis, for example, at the beginning of the pastoral year; retreats and living in community at the important liturgical times of the year;* dissertations on more pressing and necessary themes; systematic doctrinal formation, for example, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These are activities of continuing formation, which together with the personal work of the catechist, would appear very useful. (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 110)
* ”Also to be recommended are those parochial initiatives that promote the interior formation of catechists, such as prayer groups, the fraternal life, spiritual sharing and spiritual retreats. These initiatives do not isolate catechists but they help them to grow in their own spirituality and in communion with one another” (Guide for Catechists 22).
The best settings for each of these? Perhaps a faith formation director or DRE might weigh in here.
Regarding b), I knew a colleague who, the year her parish lacked any catechumens for initiation, spent several months rejuvenating her RCIA team with a process designed on the catechumenate stages.
Regarding c), it seems that publishers provide a lot of lesson plan material already, but group preparation of catechetical prep? What do you think?
The importance of both spirituality and community life: like that a lot.