By Theodore Musco
The theme for Catechetical Sunday 2014, “Teaching about God’s Gift of Forgiveness,” helps us to focus on God’s deep and constant love for each of us. As pastors and catechetical leaders throughout the country planned to celebrate Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 21, they were reminded of the great gifts catechists are to the entire Church and the entire world. Parents, as the primary educators of their children in the faith, are also included in this group of people for which we offer thanks and gratitude to our all-loving and forgiving God.
In addition to our recent celebration of Catechetical Sunday, the Church in the U.S. will celebrate National Religious Education Week, Nov. 2-8. Its theme, “Encountering Christ Every Day,” draws attention to the mission of evangelization. Our new diocesan School of Evangelization was established by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in January to serve the formational and educational needs of those who seek to know for the first time, or desire a deeper understanding and relationship with, Christ Jesus and His Church by providing guidance, support and resources to clergy, women and men in consecrated life and the laity.
We have identified three goals that will help: The first is to identify those Catholics who were baptized, most near birth, and who do not presently participate in any formal religious education program or attend a Catholic school/academy; the second is to assist those who wish to further their education and formation in the Faith; and the third is to continue to form catechetical and pastoral leaders. With over 6,000 catechists, much of our work has been involved in developing resources, many online, to assist in their formation and education. Collaborating with DeSales Media and My Catholic Faith Delivered, we now have a way of organizing our locally offered courses, events and meetings and our online courses and seminars. Any interested adult can go online to www.bqonlineformation.org for details and registration. Just last Friday, we received notice that the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) Spirit of Faith Online Supplement is now ready for use. Offered at a reasonable cost, it is available for anyone to participate in online and provides a reflection on the Sunday Gospel, prayers, discussion questions, vocabulary and stories of saints, plus much more for those who are preparing to become Catholic, be fully initiated or want to have an opportunity for ongoing faith formation. It is not meant to replace the RCIA but rather serve as a supplement to help people Encounter Christ Every Day.
The School of Evangelization’s Inaugural Gathering last week attracted nearly 250 people. (Click here to read story: https://thetablet.org/diocese-begins-its-new-school-of-evangelization/.)
The World Meeting of Families, Sept. 22-27, 2015 in Philadelphia, will have the theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” and it leaves no doubt as to the importance of the family, as Pope Francis calls it, “…an essential cell of society.”
As we begin this new catechetical year, let us reflect on this year’s catechetical theme, “The Teaching About God’s Gift of Forgiveness,” knowing that God will grant us the graces we need to be true evangelizers and help others Encounter Christ Every Day.