Catechists: Forming God’s Caribbean People

by Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ

by Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ

I share below an extract from my address to catechists at the South and Central Catechetical Rally last Sunday (Sept 25) on the theme: Catechists: Forming God’s Caribbean People – A reflection on Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity.

The Archdiocese owes each catechist a debt of gratitude for your dedication to the important work in which you are engaged. We thank you for your evangelising spirit; for saying “Yes”. “Among the laity who become evangelisers, catechists have a place of honour.” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio).

There are a number of documents that guide you in your work e.g. The General Directory for Catechesis (approved by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and revised in 1997) which states, inter alia: “The maturation of the Christian life requires that it be cultivated in all its dimensions: knowledge of the faith, liturgical life, moral formation, prayer, belonging to community, missionary spirit. When catechesis omits one of these elements, the Christian faith does not attain full development.”

It is important that you do not neglect your own spirituality as you seek to spread the Good News. The message in the Lineamenta (the preparatory document) in preparation for the Oct 7-28 2012 Synod of Bishops on the theme: The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith is clear: “The transmission of the faith is a very complex, dynamic process which totally involves the faith of Christians and the life of the Church. What is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted. [12] . . . the goal of the transmission of the faith is the realisation of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of his Father and our Father.[35]

Formation involves more than simply imparting information. It includes the whole person – what Pope Benedict XVI calls “integral human development”. The challenge we face is finding creative ways to proclaim the Gospel in a world in which moral relativism, individualism, secularism, materialism, and the negative aspects of globalisation are leading people down the wrong path.

As Catholics we know that there are objective moral truths that are valid at all times and everywhere and that the lie of moral relativism will not help people to make the right choices. There is a desperate need to form the consciences of our people.

Systematic ongoing formation is critical. The Archdiocese must constantly monitor and evaluate its strategies to ensure that we are reading the signs of the times and responding accordingly with well-planned programmes.

Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity requires us to be clear about what is “vital” about our faith. What makes us Catholic? The Eucharist is the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. But being Catholic requires more of us than attending Mass, going to confession, receiving communion, praying the rosary or novenas and so on. At the end of Mass we are urged to go out to love and serve the Lord. We are to live our faith – to act.

If we are to evangelise the culture – as our Holy Father tells us to do, we must LIVE the values that we espouse. Remember the words in Gaudium et Spes: “the split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age” (GS, 41).

We may be swimming counter-cultural, but that’s OK. Hold on to the exhortation in Romans 12:2: “Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.”

There are elements of our Catholic culture that are non-negotiable and you must pass these on, for example, the sanctity of life from conception to natural death and the inherent, inviolable and inalienable dignity of the human person – made in God’s image and likeness.

As catechists you are called, as we all are, to continual conversion and growth in your faith. Be proud of your faith. Lead by example. Now, more than ever, we must strive to transform the world to reflect Gospel values. We are all in this together: “The transmission of the faith is never an individual, isolated undertaking, but a communal, ecclesial event.” (Lineamenta for 2012 Synod of Bishops).

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