"Why should I pay attention to the General Directory of Catechesis?"
Catechetical leaders are constantly searching for resources that will help them organize better their initiatives and thus provide good catechetical experiences to those who come to their communities to learn more about their faith. The number of resources, in print and online, is rather amazing. However, it is easy to get lost browsing and selecting resources. Of course this is important, but more important is to remain attentive to the vision that guides the catechetical program and its connection to the Church’s evangelizing mission. This is why the Church presents to us the General Directory for Catechesis.
The idea of a general directory for catechesis was suggested at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). A first resource was approved in 1971, called General Catechetical Directory. It was an amazing work developed to spark a renewal in the world of catechesis. Most religious education programs in the decades after the Council were inspired by this directory. In turn, local conferences of bishops, including the United States, developed national directories to address more specific concerns and make appropriate adaptations.
After many years of work, and also inspired by a direction from the Second Vatican Council, in 1992 the Church received the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Such development called for a revision of the first general directory leading to the 1997 General Directory of Catechesis. This is a much more focused directory and also an excellent resource to set the vision for contemporary catechesis. It retains the structure of its predecessor and it builds on the Catechism as a key reference. National directories also followed this new general directory. The United States launched its new National Directory for Catechesis in 2005. Catechetical leaders, both at the diocesan and parish level, are invited to look at the general and national directories for guidance and inspiration. These directories are the result of the work of myriads of people who deeply care about catechesis and evangelization in the Church. To explore them and use them is like becoming part of a beautiful exercise of ecclesial communion.