Everything is ready for the catechists and their assigned children as you begin the catechetical year. Textbooks, sets of supplies, prayer tables, Bibles, attendance sheets...all are in order. Then you, the Parish Catechetical Leader (PCL), realize that the same story is repeating itself. Last year there were 45 second grade children who celebrated First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. The third grade roster shows 29 children. There were 8 children who came into the church through the RCIA adapted for children. Only 3 of them are registered for continuing faith formation. Where are these young people?
We seem to do well with the young people who come to us but we need to go beyond those who present themselves for faith formation. We have wonderful catechists but PCLs need another group of ministers who will go out and invite families to bring their children to the parish. This is the work of Evangelization and people are waiting to be invited. I call these people “fishers” just as those called by Jesus to announce the Good News were known as “fishers.” My work in parishes and in the diocesan structure showed me that there are many people of faith who cannot make the commitment to be catechists each week but would be willing, even eager, to minister in another aspect of our catechetical programs. THEY need to be invited, affirmed and trained for this special work, but the benefits are abundant.
In my next post, I will present steps to get these “fishers” started in their ministry of evangelization and offer other ideas to bring in those who currently appear to be “uncatchable.” Invitation is the key word at every level.
Anne Comeaux has served as the Diocesan Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and most recently as the Director of the Office of Continuing Christian Education for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas. She served on the Board of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL) and then was elected to a three-year term as president of NCCL.
Anne has been a Catholic high-school teacher, a parish catechetical leader, and an adjunct faculty member at Wheeling (W. Va.) Jesuit University and the University of St. Thomas, Houston. She holds a B.S. in Secondary Education, and an M.S. in Elementary Education. She also holds an M.S in Theology/Religious Education from Duquesne University.
The Parish Guide to the New Evangelization
Be an Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children
Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation
The Way God Teaches: Catechesis and the Divine Pedagogy