Pope Francis has called for several events to mark the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which runs through Nov. 20. One of those events is a Jubilee for Catechists.
In the Diocese of St. Cloud, the Jubilee for Catechists will be celebrated Sept. 25 to honor those throughout the diocese who are dedicated to promoting the Catholic faith.
Brenda Kresky, diocesan consultant for faith formation, is helping to organize the day’s events, which include a keynote address sponsored by Our Sunday Visitor, a visioning activity, Mass with Bishop Donald Kettler, entertainment and a shared meal sponsored by the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of St. Cloud.
“These people say ‘yes’ out of the kindness of their hearts and they often don’t get a lot of thanks for it,” Kresky said. “Like in the Gospel story, they often are the ones throwing the seeds into the soil and they don’t always see the rewards of their work.”
Joseph White, who will keynote the event, served as a parish director of faith formation for two years and then worked for seven years as director of family counseling and family life for the Diocese of Austin, Texas. He now works as a national catechetical consultant for Our Sunday Visitor Publishing and Curriculum and is in part-time practice as a clinical child psychologist.
White will talk to catechists about how their work is a vocation — a call from God for a special purpose. He will illustrate six tasks the church identifies as the role of a catechist: promoting knowledge of the faith, liturgical education, moral formation, teaching to pray, education for community life and missionary initiation.
“It’s important to celebrate catechists because of the special place catechesis has in the work of the church,” White said. “The mission of the church is evangelization — spreading the Gospel of Jesus and forming disciples. Catechesis is central to this mission.”
The role of catechists in today’s world offers more challenges than in the past. One challenge is that the lives of families have become much more hectic, White said.
“Children and families are involved in so many different things, and faith formation is sometimes not a priority,” he said. “It’s also increasingly challenging to keep the attention of our learners.
“Research shows that attention spans are getting shorter in our digital culture, and we have to be creative to engage our learners in the material,” he said. “Often that means using active learning approaches that involve multiple senses — something for visual learners, something for auditory learners and something for those who need to move.”
Kresky hopes the event will inspire and encourage catechists in their vocation. While the diocese has over 2,000 catechists working in 131 parishes, she also hopes that others might step forward to help in this important role.
Catechists need to remember, “You can’t give what you don’t have,” White said.
“It’s important for all of us to keep forming ourselves in the faith — there is always more to learn, and the more we learn, the more we naturally want to share the message with others,” he said. “It’s important to nurture our spiritual life through prayer and the sacraments. It’s our encounters with Jesus and our relationship with him that is at the center of our spiritual life and sustains us in our work as catechists.”
For more information about the Jubilee for Catechists and the local event, visit http://stcdio.org/th_event/jubilee-for-catechists.