GDC 251-252: “Higher institutes for experts in catechesis”

Catechetical expertise for priests and lay people should be cultivated at a unioversity level:

251. A higher level of catechetical formation to which priests, religious and laity might have access is of vital importance for catechesis. In this regard it is hoped that “higher institutes for training in pastoral catechetics should be promoted or founded, so that catechists capable of directing catechesis at the diocesan level, or within the area of activities to which religious congregations are dedicated, may be prepared. These higher institutes can be national or even international. They ought to function as a university so far as curriculum, length of course and requisites for admission are concerned”. (General Catechetical Directory 109a) In addition to the formation of those who must assume responsibility for catechesis, these institutes will also form those who teach catechesis in seminaries, houses of formation and in the catechetical schools. These institutes should devote themselves to a congruent level of research in catechesis.

252. At this level of formation there is much opportunity for fruitful co-operation between the Churches: “Here also the material aid provided by the richer Churches to their poorer sisters can show the greatest effectiveness, for what better assistance can one Church give to another than to help it to grow as a Church with its own strength?” (Catechesi Tradendae 71a) Obviously such collaboration has due respect for the particular circumstances of poorer Churches and their responsibilities. At diocesan and inter-diocesan levels it is most useful when there is an awareness of the need to form people at a higher level, just as there is a similar need for such in other ecclesiastical activities as well as in the teaching of other disciplines.

In large dioceses, one will find the highest levels of expertise in chanceries and in a few priests. But in other sees, it is more common for diocesan catechetical directors to have the same academic background as DRE’s in parishes, but perhaps with more average experience. The dividing line between catechetical experts with advanced degrees, and those with certification is usually between parishes that will pay a professional salary and those who won’t or can’t. And in small parishes, many fine people serve very ably with certification or less.

I do think unviersity training is a big plus, but I have my own bias in favor of it because that experience is included in my own background. Would you say every diocese should have a catechetical director who is qualified to train clergy? Who possesses an advanced degree in education, or in catechetics, or both? If not, at what level would you propose that expertise? And how would you suggest dioceses pool resources to ensure maximum effectiveness?

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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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