The mission of the office is to call forth the leadership and creative potential of adult Christians to enhance their spiritual and professional skills in order to develop sound religious education programs in all the parishes and Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
Lent is just a few weeks away...what will you encounter this Lent?
Have your participation in CRS Rice Bowl come alive in your parish by using the many resources at your disposal! Visit CRSRiceBowl.org . Parishes that participated last year should have already received their resources, but there is still time to order! Here is an overview of the history and purpose of CRS Rice Bowl...remember, it's not a piggy bank, it's a tool to put your faith into action during the Lenten season!
From the CRS website:
Lent is a time of encounter.
Through prayer, we encounter Christ, present in the face of every member of our human family.
Through fasting, we encounter the obstacles that prevent us from loving God and neighbor.
Through almsgiving, we encounter our brothers and sisters around the world, sharing God’s gifts with others.
Countries of focus for this year are India, Zambia, El Salvador, Mexico, and Ethiopia.
The Year of Mercy goes from Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016. The beginning coincides with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th Anniversary of the closing of VCII. Observing this year asks us to live the mercy of our Father as we live our daily lives. There are three areas of focus:
365 Days to Mercy App (available in App Store and Google Play)
In a little over a week, two well known popes will be canonized. This is an excellent opportunity for catechists to turn a light towards teaching about heaven, the communion of saints, and the canonization process. It is also an opportune time to examine the lives of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. There are many resources available to assist catechists in this endeavor. For example, from Sadlier (religion publisher), you can get a free downloadable teaching resource by following this link http://go.sadlier.com/canonization-resource?utm_campaign=22&utm_medium=Silverpop&utm_source=Email . This link will send you to a page with a description of the resource and a request for your e-mail address where it can be sent. May the Saints continue to pray for us.
The observance for the Year of Faith, focusing on the new evangelization, concludes on the last Sunday of this liturgical year, November 24, 2013. As a final reflection, let us look at some of the descriptions of a catechist that Pope Francis put forth in his homily on September 29, 2013 at the Mass offered for the “Day of Catechists.” The “Day of Catechists” was one of the events planned for the Year of Faith. The special Mass came at the end of a three-day international gathering for catechists. As you read through these quotes from Pope Francis think on: With which one you most resonate? What do these quotes reveal to you about your ministry? What do these quotes say about you as a person of faith?
“Who are catechists? They are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others.”
“Faith contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encountering God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves and transforms us.”
“The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others.”
“It is not easy! It engages our entire existence!”
“Catechists are men and women of the memory of God if they have a constant, living relationship with him and with their neighbor...if they are gentle, capable of understanding and mercy.”
(source: Origins. October 24, 2013, Vol. 43, No. 21.)
Lastly, as the year concludes, reflect on the following:
How have you been transformed through the observation of the Year of Faith?
What new good faith practices do you want to continue/try upon the conclusion of the observance of the Year of Faith?
As has been announced, our Archdiocesan Five Year Statement of Vision is, “GO MAKE DISCIPLES.” As people of faith, and furthermore as catechists, we are called to be an instrument of Christ’s presence so that during their time with us, those to whom we minister, are able to encounter the living God who is in our midst. It is through this personal encounter that we find the strength to accept the yoke of discipleship. If you have not yet, you are encouraged to read about this visioning process in Archbishop Paul S. Coakley’s pastoral letter. Our shared vision is meant to affirm what is taking place in our diocese while also striving to renew and focus our efforts. A study guide for the pastoral letter is in the works. Until then, here are a few reflection questions on the new vision statement for catechists:
- As a member of the Church in the Archdiocese of OKC, how do I communicate our core values of holiness, formation and service?
- What does it mean to me to respond to Jesus’ great commission to, “Go Make Disciples?”
- As a catechist, how does this new vision statement reaffirm my call and how does it refocus my current catechetical efforts?
We have about four months left in our observance of the Year of Faith. The release of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” affords us the opportunity to reflect upon our journey so far. It also affords us the opportunity to see how our commitments, focus, and increased activities dedicated to developing our understanding of the New Evangelization will lead us beyond this Year of Faith. If you have not already done so, you can visit the Vatican Website and read the encyclical.
The image of being a door rather than a mirror (one that opens the way that leads others to Christ rather than just being one who reflects their own image) is brought up in this encyclical. In September, we will celebrate Catechetical Sunday with the theme: Open the Door of Faith. As a Catechist, what actions do you take so that you may be a door of faith for others?
There are “vast horizons which faith opens up” (LF, no. 5). What new practices did you incorporate into your faith-life this year? How are these commitments going? With only a few months left, do you need to add a new practice or recommit to ones you made last Fall? How have these brought you to a sense of joy in the Catholic Faith?
In the same section quoted in the previous article, the National Directory for Catechesis (no. 17:A) states that “The New Evangelization is aimed at personal transformation through the development of a personal relationship with God, participation in sacramental worship, the development of a mature ethical and social conscience, ongoing catechesis, and a deepening integration of faith into all areas of life.” In this we see that evangelization and catechesis are not separate enterprises, rather they “integrate and compliment” each other. The Catechist is an agent of evangelization whose role is so significant that the NDC also brings to our attention that "no material resource can ever replace the personal witness of the fully-formed Catechist to the person of Jesus Christ" (no. 71). The Catechist is in a blessed and privileged position. To be a Catechist is enter into a sacred place and share one of our most precious gifts, our faith. This act is itself a gift. During this Year of Faith, take a moment to reflect upon your role as a Catechist, agent of evangelization.
Some questions for reflection:
What does it mean for you to be a Catechist? Do you embrace it as a gift from God? In what ways has being a Catechist allowed you to grow in faith?
In what ways to you exhibit care and concern for the young people entrusted to you?
Do the young people you share your faith with know the joy that it has brought to your life? How do you share that joy?
In what ways do you model our Catholic faith as a Catechist?
The Year of Faith was mentioned in a homily I recently heard. The insight that I gained from this homily is that the Year of Faith is not about programs, as such, but about being led to conversion. What we need to do to grow closer to Christ and the life of the Church. How we respond to the presence of Christ in our lives and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
This sentiment is reflected in a passage found in the National Directory for Catechesis, (no. 17:A.) “The purpose of this evangelization is to bring about faith and conversion to Christ. Faith involves a profound change of mind and heart, a change of life, a “metanoia.” Such a change can only arise from deep within the interior of one’s being, where one faces the truly important questions about human life. Such a change, engendered by the action of the Holy Spirit, shows itself in the transformation of one’s life. One begins to live “in Christ” and is able to confess with St. Paul, ‘Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:20).’”
It seems that what this year is calling us to do, beseeching us, maybe even demanding of us, is to make or renew our commitment to be more intentional about our faith. In these beginning months, we have the opportunity to review our commitments as to how we live our faith. We must ask ourselves, “What am I doing to grow closer to Christ and the life of the Church?”
In what ways can you commit to being intentional about this during the Year of Faith? Brainstorm some ideas and then commit to one or two of them.
I’ll get you started:
- join an adult faith formation group at the parish
- find a good spiritual book to read
- name and remove the distractions that are keeping you from conversion
- join a new ministry
- reflect on Sunday’s reading before Mass
- pick one day a month to bring items for the “poor box”
- make a financial commitment to contribute above what you currently do for a specific need
What can you add to this list? More importantly, what are you committed to do for this Year of Faith? Have a thought or idea about this that you want to share? E-mail Angela in the Office of Religious Education
Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith! This will begin on October 11, 2012 and end on November 24, 2013. In its Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith states that the intent of the Year of Faith is “to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today.” In this Year of Faith, with its focus on the “New Evangelization,” we are ALL called to a joyful (re)discovery of our Faith through prayer, study and charity.
It has been a few months since the changes of the New Roman Missal have been implemented. In some places these changes have taken root, in others, they are still finding their way into the soil. Whatever the case may be, take a moment to reflect on the changes that have occurred. You can do this as a personal reflection or as a small group.
- What has affected you the most?
- What remains a challenge for you personally?
- What remains a challenge for your parish?
- What do you find encouraging?
For the catechist:
Continual liturgical catechesis is important for the faithful.
The materials that were prepared to introduce the Roman Missal changes are still of use. Many of them went to great lengths to creatively break open the rites, prayers and words of the Mass. They not only give comparisons to what we once prayed, but provide catechetical insight into what we now pray. You may want to take a moment to review these important meanings in your catechetical sessions.
A good resource is the “What’s New...” booklets from LTP. Participant books and leader guides are available for different age groups.