Click here to view digital version of the annual Catechetical Sunday tribute from The Monitor, that includes resources and insights for those serving in catechetical ministry.More ... Monday, September 11, 2017
Each year, the Church celebrates Catechetical Sunday on the third Sunday of September as a day for parishes to focus on honoring and commissioning catechists for their important role of handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.
This year’s theme, “Living as Missionary Disciples,” also encourages each person, by virtue of their Baptism and as part of a community of faith, to rededicate themselves to this mission.
We celebrate and give thanks always, at all times and in all places, but most especially this month for those involved in faith formation and religious instruction in all our parishes.
Those include parish catechetical leaders, parish catechists, adult faith formation catechists, RCIA catechists and those in our Catholic elementary and secondary schools – all those who provide instruction and formation in the faith for God’s people, who witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his values.
The theme for Catechetical Sunday 2017, Sept. 17 this year, is “Living as Missionary Disciples.” This theme permeated many of the sessions at the Convocation of Catholic Leaders gathering in Orlando from July 1-4. Several of the keynote speakers in the plenary sessions, panelists, and breakout session presenters addressed aspects of this topic.
As men and women across the country who serve in the ministry of catechesis are recognized Catechetical Sunday, veterans of evangelistic ventures advise that effective evangelizing for ordinary Catholics means keeping it simple: Listen first. Then talk.
“There’s no one way to evangelize. I’ve become more and more convinced that evangelization is not built over large things, but rather, small events,” said Father Frank Donio, director of the Catholic Apostolate Center and a consultant on evangelization for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The faith formation of children is one of the awesome privileges of parents, one that, for most families, is supported by the work of parish catechetical leaders. Each September, as the new school year begins, parents of children in parish religious education programs also plan their days to include one of a number of religious education options that may be offered including weekly classes in the parish, or, if they are part of a family catechesis program, one longer class a month, perhaps on a Saturday or Sunday. More ... Friday, September 8, 2017
In his 2002 apostolic exhortation on the Holy Rosary, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” Pope St. John Paul II refers to the Rosary as his favorite prayer. He reveals the Rosary as a path of contemplation, a prayer for peace for the family and an opportunity to follow the witness of the saints who found in the Rosary a path to holiness. More ... Friday, September 8, 2017
Brian Jefferes may be new to the Diocese of Trenton as associate director in the Department of Catechesis, but he is no stranger to helping others succeed in the area of religious education.
That is one reason why Jefferes, who served for 11 years as a director of religious education in St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Parish, Avondale, Pa., is looking forward to meeting the Diocese’s parish catechetical leaders in the coming year.
“I’ve been in that role, so if I can be of any assistance to them or their catechists, I’m happy and willing to help,” he said.
Two years ago, Carol Freda became the parish catechetical leader in St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Avon-by-the-Sea, after teaching religious education in her parish of St. Dominic, Brick, for 15 years.
This year, she will continue to serve the parish community of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, but will also serve youngsters and their families in Ascension Parish, Bradley Beach, where she will assume the role of PCL. Freda will also begin her 17th year as a second-grade catechist in St. Dominic Parish.
Sue Hodgkiss of Nativity Parish is no stranger to service in the Fair Haven faith community she has called home for 29 years. The parish’s current pastoral associate, and leader of its Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, has also assumed the role of parish catechetical leader and eagerly anticipates the beginning of the school season.
This year, the PCL and 80 to 90 catechists will share their gifts with about 1,000 to 1,100 children in grades one through eight.
Filippini Sister Carolyn Houck, who has amassed more than 40 years of experience as a parish catechetical leader, principal and teacher, has become the newest PCL in St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.
Sister Carolyn, who joined her religious community in 1964, earned an associate’s degree in elementary education from Villa Walsh, Morristown; a bachelor of science degree in that field from Seton Hall University, South Orange, and a master’s degree in religious studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa. In addition, she earned a religious studies certificate from the Sacred Heart Congregation of Clergy, Rome.
Sister of St. Joseph Mary Kay Kelly, the parish catechetical leader in St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Marlton, eagerly anticipates the upcoming school year during which she will lead 75 catechists and volunteers in enriching the faith of the roughly 400 students.
“After time spent away from parish work, it is good to be a member of the community,” she said. “I look forward to meeting and praying with the members of St. Isaac’s.”
As St. Anthony of Padua Parish’s newest parish catechetical leader, Father Juan Gabriel Rojas-Hernandez’s goal is clear.
“We want to connect the program to the goals of the parish: to make them disciples of Jesus through this program and the pastoral plan,” said Father Rojas-Hernandez, parochial vicar in the Hightstown parish.
Rich Scanlon brings a thoughtful and a philosophical approach to his new position as director of evangelization and discipleship mentor in Resurrection Parish, Delran.
“The smoke of Satan is permeating our culture today and my generation is getting caught up in Satan’s deception, making us lukewarm and too busy to tend to our souls and our salvation and to pass on the faith to our children,” said Scanlon, who will direct the religious education and adult faith formation programs and oversee the leaders who head the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, youth ministries and “other ministries that we are hoping to launch in the near future.”
While the beginning of a new catechetical school year may bring jitters, Margaret Zola, parish catechetical leader of Sts. Francis and Clare Parish, Roebling, and St. Mary Parish, Bordentown, says enthusiastically that she is “looking forward to getting started.”
The Columbus resident, who became PCL in St. Mary Parish in September 2016 after serving as a religious education instructor for eight years, will also head the program in Roebling this year.
Many Catholics have long considered that going to Mass weekly and participating in some parish ministry or activity put one in the category of being a “good” Catholic, because one did more than just attend Mass. Today such an attitude is not sufficient, for we learn from Pope Francis:
“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). … The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God's saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are "disciples" and "missionaries," but rather that we are always "missionary disciples." (Evangelii Gaudium, 119)