The Five Tasks of Catechesis:
Leading to Knowledge of the Faith: (#80 Directory for Catechesis) “Fostering the knowledge and exploration of the Christian message.” As catechists and parents, we strive to teach our children the truths of our faith, and we introduce children to Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
Initiating into the Celebration of the Mystery: (#81 Directory for Catechesis) We assist those we catechize in “the comprehension and experience of liturgical celebrations. Through this task, catechesis helps the believer to understand the importance of the liturgy in the Church’s life, initiates him into the knowledge of the sacraments and into sacramental life, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.”
Formation for Life in Christ: (#83 Directory for Catechesis) “Catechesis instructs the believer in following the Lord according to the dispositions described in the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12) which manifest his very life.” This task involves the formation of the moral conscience, and an introduction to Christian vocation and Gospel living.
Teaching Prayer: (#86 Directory for Catechesis) “Catechesis has the task of educating the believer for prayer and in prayer, developing the contemplative dimension of Christian experience.” This includes initiating the believer into the forms of prayer that include blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise.
Introduction to Community Life: (#88 Directory for Catechesis) Community is “an integral part of the Christian life, of witness and of evangelization.” This task of catechesis helps those we teach to feel a sense of belonging to the Church, and responsibility in building the Kingdom of God.
These tasks are imparted through individual relationships, the community of faith, liturgy, instruction, experiential learning, ritual, prayer, and outreach to the global community. Continuing education in the faith is a question which concerns the whole community. Catechesis, therefore is an educational activity which arises from the particular responsibilities of every member of the community, in a rich context of relationships. (From The General Directory of Catechesis)
Formation of Children
Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.
– #2226, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition
Parish Catechetical Programs
“The parish is the preeminent place for the catechesis of adults, youth, and children. ‘Knowledge of the faith, liturgical life, the following of Christ are all a gift of the Spirit which are received in prayer, and similarly a duty of spiritual and moral study and witness. Neither aspect may be neglected.’ Pastors have the duty to provide catechesis; parishioners have the reciprocal duty to participate in and support the catechetical activities of the parish.” (National Directory for Catechesis, 60)
Parishes throughout our diocese offer a variety of catechetical models for the faith formation of children. The following is an overview of catechetical models that might be used at a parish in the Diocese of Rochester.
This model relies on a team of trained, volunteer catechists who receive regular formation. It is carried out in a traditional educational setting with classrooms, desks, direct instruction and some discussion with children and youth along with activities. Usually a designated textbook is the resource used to instruct the curriculum.
- Lectionary-based: a method of teaching the faith to children and adults that uses the Sunday Mass Scripture readings as the basis for catechetical sessions.
- Mini-courses: a method of teaching the faith that breaks catechetical material into courses.
Intergenerational catechesis, also referred to as whole community catechesis, invites parishoners of all ages to learn about their faith and celebrate together. This approach provides an integrated and comprehensive approach which addresses the role of the parish community as being both the agent for catechesis and its recipient and promotes faith formation as a lifelong process. It emphasizes the essential connection between catechesis and the Sunday Celebration of the Eucharist, embraces all ages and generations, provides opportunities for Christian Service, and supports the family’s role in passing on the faith to children.