“‘This Society had its beginning in a simple catechism lesson.’ For us too evangelizing and catechizing are the fundamental characteristics of our mission.” (Const. 34)
September 20, 2020 was Catechetical Sunday. The theme this year is, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Cor 11.23). Typically, those who will serve as catechists are called forward at Mass to be commissioned for their ministry on Catechetical Sunday. The homily at Mass might develop from the readings something about the teaching ministry of the Church. “Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.”
With the pandemic this year, nothing is typical. Celebrations of Confessions, First Communion, and Confirmation were postponed for months. Like the schools, catechetical programs are struggling to develop creative ways to teach—some are relying upon technology for distance learning, some are asking the parents to teach at home, some are increasing the number of classes to meet the safety protocols for in-person teaching. Despite the monumental challenges, I can see an even greater dedication to educate the young and their families in the faith. In our province, thousands of young people, students in our schools, those enrolled in our parish programs, faith time in camps, etc. will come to know Jesus Christ and, in Christ, discover the deepest meaning of their own existence. Congratulations to all our religion teachers, catechists, RCIA sponsors, and catechetical leaders. We are encouraged by the “simple catechism lesson” Don Bosco had with Bartholomew Garelli not to let the present limitations prevent us from furthering the Salesian mission.
I would like to direct your attention to the many good resources for catechists available from the Office for Evangelization and Catechesis of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Be sure to check out the articles prepared for Catechetical Sunday 2020 on the USCCB website. These two articles in particular caught my attention, “Little Flames of Faith: Accompanying Young Adults into Fuller Parish Life” and “Healing Hearts and Binding up Wounds: Reclaiming a Pastoral Perspective on Ministry with Young Adults.” The articles include questions for reflection, and so can become the basis for on-going formation for the youth ministry team or catechist meeting or a good night.
The last line of Const. 34 states, “The Virgin Mary is present in this process as a mother. We make her known and loved as the one who believed, who helps and who infuses hope.” During this month of October, the month of the Holy Rosary, we pray that Mary continues her tender motherly presence among us, blessing the Salesian mission today, as she did for Don Bosco.
Monday, October 12 was celebrated as Thanksgiving Day, Columbus Day, Día de la Raza, and Día de Encuentro de Culturas, depending on where you are in the province. I wish you all many blessings.
Fr. Tim Zak