Catechesis: A source of energy for the life
of the Church
Catechesis is one of the critical sources of energy for the mission and the life of the Church. In the 28th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus command to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Mt. 28:19-20) is the foundation upon which the catechetical ministry is built. In describing the catechetical ministry the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church's efforts to make disciples, to help people believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ. (CCC 4)
Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life." (CCC 5)
Catechesis is essential for developing a personal relationship with Jesus as the foundation for discipleship.
At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth,...To catechize is to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God's eternal design reaching fulfillment in that Person....Catechesis aims at putting people in communion with Jesus Christ...." (CCC 426)
Catechesis has four aims
Catechesis involves the intentional and systematic efforts to nurture the faith of adults, youth and children in developing their relationship with Jesus and growing toward maturity of faith and to living committed lives as disciples of Jesus. It includes the preparation for adult initiation, infant baptism, formation for the sacrament of Confirmation and Eucharist and Reconciliation. Catechesis has four aims:
- to proclaim the Christian message
- to prepare for prayer and worship
- to build community
- to motivate for Christian living and service.
In order to achieve these ends, catechesis involves an essential collaboration with the Catholic Christian family, the parish community and with catechists who serve at all levels of the ministry. Since catechesis is about faith-sharing, it is a people intensive ministry. It requires faith-filled, skilled and knowledgeable people who are striving to grow in faith themselves and who desire to share that faith with others. The people who serve the Christian community as catechists, carry out, in the name of the Church, the systematic and intentional efforts to enable people to grow in their faith. This makes the parish one of the most critical and central focal points for the carrying out of the catechetical ministry. It is in support of the local parish's catechetical efforts that most of the catechetical energies at the diocesan, national and even the universal levels are aimed.
Catechesis in the Archdiocese of Newark
Here, in the Archdiocese of Newark, our goals and supporting structures share in the same focus, namely, to support the parish's catechetical ministry efforts. Although the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office sponsors certain activities which address the entire Archdiocese at large, even these activities are aimed at reaching and serving the catechetical needs of people in the parishes which make up the Archdiocese. However, the vast majority of the Catechetical Office's activity is directly aimed at the parish itself and supporting catechesis at that level. This is accomplished through a number of programs and processes.