This story by Gina Keating was originally published in The Catholic Sun, the newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix.
Systematic catechesis falls largely on parishes through its religious education programs that teach the Catholic faith to all. This effort to pass on the teachings of the Catholic Church is supported each year through generous donations to the Charity and Development Appeal.
No longer referred to as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), RE programs educate, inspire and evangelize children, teens and adults in 93 parishes and 23 missions located throughout the Diocese of Phoenix.
“Good catechesis for elementary school-aged children involves both the head and the heart,” said Lani Bogart, director of Marriage and Family Life at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Glendale.
“It is unrushed and allows time for silence and reflection. It is based on Scripture and ties in themes from liturgy and helps children to apply the truth to their own unique circumstances.”
There to provide support, resources and formation to the parish leaders and youth evangelizers in parish RE programs is the diocesan Department of Family Catechesis.
Last year the CDA provided 68 percent of the department’s operating budget, according to Angela Gaetano, director of parish leadership support, who added the grant also funds the annual Catechetical Congress, various workshops and formation opportunities.
“Formation in the faith from the earliest years is absolutely vital. In His earthly ministry, Christ spoke on the importance of children,” Gaetano said, adding the Catechism of the Catholic Church “exhorts” parents to form their children in the faith from the earliest years.
However, “if parents do not study and continually form themselves in the Catholic faith, they will be ill-equipped to pass it on to their children.”
The Easter Season is abuzz with new life as children deepen their relationship with Jesus through the sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.
Foremost in the sacramental process is the guidance and example set by the catechist.
“The catechist must be living a life of intimacy with Christ, because a catechist, by definition, mentors the one to be catechized in the Christian life,” said Eric Westby, director of parish and school catechesis and director of the Institute of Catholic Theology at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.
“The catechist must not only know the teachings of Christ, but be actively pursuing them on a deeper level,” he said. “In other words, the catechist cannot just say ‘I know it all.’ They must constantly strive to know Christ’s teachings better, because those teachings are about a relationship with Him. In a relationship, we must always grow with the other.”