By OSV Editorial Board - OSV Newsweekly, 8/5/2012
A good friend of Our Sunday Visitor, Sister Jane Carew, died this past month. Sister Jane was the director of religious education for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., and a close collaborator with Bishop John D’Arcy, now retired. Above all she was an apostle for the vocation of catechist, singularly dedicated to its importance for the modern Church.
We do not think that Sister Jane read Ross Douthat’s remarkable new book, “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics” (see Russell Shaw’s review, Pages 7-8), before her death, but we suspect that she would have had some thoughts on how to fix the problems that Douthat diagnoses.
“Bad Religion” documents the erosion of orthodox Christian belief over the past 50 years in our country.
It ends on a relatively bleak note, noting that the trend lines suggest more heresies and a further erosion of traditional Christian teaching as this new century progresses.
It is true that much of orthodox Christian belief is increasingly incompatible with the assumptions and values of contemporary society, whether Christian views of marriage, the sanctity of life and other moral teachings, or the nature of truth and even the value of dogmatic belief itself.
But it is also true that over the course of its history, the Church has seen many peaks and valleys in terms of piety and belief across many different societies. It is often in the valleys when the saints appear, from Francis and Dominic to Teresa of Avila and John Vianney.
Sister Jane spent most of her career working in the valley. She saw phenomenal catechetical needs, and she dedicated herself in her diocese to addressing those needs.
She found ways to improve the training of religion teachers, religious education directors and catechists.
She edited a book called “Making Disciples” (OSV, $34.95) to provide systemic catechesis in the faith within a lectionary-based RCIA program for potential converts.
She was relentless in promoting the importance of the vocation of catechist, and felt there was a special need for priests and bishops to be aware of the importance of this vocation.
In her funeral homily, Bishop D’Arcy quoted from Catechesi Tradendae by Blessed Pope John Paul II:
“The more the Church, whether on the local or the universal level, gives catechesis priority over other works and undertakings … the more she finds in catechesis a strengthening of her internal life as a community of believers and of her external activity as a missionary Church.”
Over the past 20 years, the Catholic Church has made significant strides in shoring up its presentation of the faith. The launch of the Catechism of the Catholic Church 20 years ago, the improvement of catechetical texts in light of the Catechism by Catholic publishers, the introduction of the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, and the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI all have provided the Catholic Church with tools and focused direction that most other Christian bodies cannot muster.
But bad religion will remain a threat to good religion until these tools are put in the hands of trained catechists, and until faith formation is seen not just as child’s work, but as a lifetime commitment of every adult and every parish and every diocese.
Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; John Norton, editor; Sarah Hayes, presentation editor.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Catholic Faith Resources | For Catholic Parishes | Order OSV Products | RSS | Advertise | About Us | Contact Us | Jobs