Are the human, Christian, and apostolic qualities all needful? I would affirm this. While I think there is some overlap amongst these three, there are distinctive characteristics of this. The Guide for Catechists does address human characteristics, and the note attached to this section reads, “The following human qualities are suggested by the Guide for Catechists: facility in human relationships and dialogue facilitating communication, a disposition to collaboration, a willingness to act as a guide, serenity of judgement, understanding and realism, a capacity to give consolation and hope.”
Needless to say, many institution-soaked Catholics have some major difficulties on these points. It’s probably why the laity are more clearly perceived as effective catechists these days. But some of those qualities are difficult for many of us. It would be the rare person indeed who possessed competency, let alone strength, in all of them. Regarding dialogue and collaboration, it is a difficult time for these qualities, especially the closer one gets to the institution.
239. On the basis of this initial human maturity, (Cf. Guide for Catechists 21) the exercise of catechesis, by constant consideration and evaluation, allows the catechist to grow in a balanced and in a critical outlook, in integrity, in his ability to relate, to promote dialogue, to have a constructive spirit, and to engage in group work. (Cf. Guide for Catechists 21) It will cause him to grow in respect and in love for catechumens and those being catechized: “What is this love? It is the love, not so much of a teacher as of a father, or rather of a mother. It is the Lord’s wish that every preacher of the Gospel, every builder up of the Church should have this love”. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 79) Formation also assumes that the faith of the catechist is fostered and nourished by the exercize of catechesis, making him thus to grow as a believer. The formation, above all, nourishes the spirituality of the catechist, (Cf. Christifedeles Laici 60) so that his activity springs in truth from his own witness of life. Every theme covered by formation should feed, in the first place, the faith of the catechist. It is true that catechists catechize others by firstly catechizing themselves.
Formation also constantly nourishes the apostolic consciousness of the catechist, that is, his sense of being an evangelizer. For this reason he should be aware of and live out the concrete evangelization efforts being made in his own diocese, as well as those of his own parish so as to be in harmony with the awareness that the particular Church has of its own mission. The best way to feed this apostolic awareness is by identifying with the figure of Jesus Christ, teacher and formator of disciples by seeking to acquire the zeal which Jesus had for the Kingdom. Beginning with the exercise of catechesis, the apostolic vocation of the catechist—constantly fostered by continuing formation—will progressively mature.
The importance of continuing formation is underscored yet again.
And as I wrap up this post, any Catholic blog that takes itself seriously probably should self-examine along the lines of these qualities. Do we have relationships, and cultivate them? Do we engage in dialogue and collaboration? Do we offer guidance, serenity, and hope? Do we have realistic expectations? Do we attend to our own continuing formation?