GDC 248-250: Schools for Catechists

In yesterday’s post, we looked at catechist formation in the parish: what the clergy can do, how catechists might work together, the value of retreats and special events, etc. Today we look at “schools” that will likely be organized for a region, diocese, or some subdivision thereof.

248. Attendance at a school for catechists (Cf. concerning schools for catechists in the missions: Ad Gentes 17c; Redemptoris Missio 73; Canon Law 785 and Guide for Catechists, 30. For the Church in general see: General Catechetical Directory 109) is a particularly important moment in the formation of a catechist. In many places such schools are organized on two levels: one for catechists who are “ordinary”; (The expression ‘ordinary catechist’ is used in General Catechetical Directory 112c) the other for those who have “responsibility for catechesis”.

These two levels? Actual catechists would be “ordinary.” The responsible ones would be faith formation directors, and people in similar positions in parishes.

Schools for ordinary catechists have advantages. My sense is that in the US, these “schools” are less established places and more the occasional workshop provided by a parish, deanery, or diocese.

249. The purpose of such schools is to give an comprehensive and systematic catechetical formation of a basic nature over a period of time during which the specifically catechetical dimensions of formation are promoted: the Christian message; knowledge of man and his socio-cultural situation; the pedagogy of the faith. Such a systematic formation has notable advantages amongst which the following can be numbered:

– its systematic nature which is not so absorbed in the immediate concerns of catechetical activity;

– its quality which is assured by trained specialists;

– integration with catechists from other communities, which promotes ecclesial communion.

The GDC addresses “Institutes for those with responsibility for catechesis” here:

250. So as to prepare those who have responsibility for catechesis, in parishes and vicariates as well as full time catechists (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 109b) it is useful to provide catechetical institutes either at diocesan or inter-diocesan level. Clearly, standards in these institutes will be more demanding. In addition to the courses of basic catechetical formation they will promote those specializations regarded as necessary for the particular circumstances in which they are located. It may prove opportune, even for reasons of rationalizing resources, that the orientation of such institutes be directed towards those with responsibility for various pastoral activities. In this event they can be transformed into centres of formation for pastoral workers. Commencing with a general basic formation (doctrinal and anthropological) those areas in which specialization is required should be determined in relation to the particular demands made on the various pastoral and apostolic works of the diocese in which its pastoral workers are involved.

Interesting the suggestion for expanding this school to something wider than catechesis and faith formation. Many universities and institutions offer certificate and degree programs in religious education, pastoral ministry, and other disciplines that prepare people for ecclesial ministry in the Church.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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