The vast majority of catechists today take part in this essential ministry in the life and mission of the Church for a simple yet significant reason: they have a passion for handing on our faith, for doing their part to form vibrant, radical disciples of Jesus Christ. They burn with a missionary zeal to lead and accompany others—men, women, families, young adults, teens, and children—ever closer to Jesus in and through his Church (cf. CCC 4). They have been captivated by him and have entered into relationship with him themselves, and in turn they want others to experience what they have experienced: the beauty and power that comes from knowing the one true God and Christ Jesus, whom he has sent.[i]
Many catechists perform this work as a volunteer in their parish for years or even decades. In some cases, however, those with a passion for catechetical ministry find themselves not engaging in the work of catechesis directly but rather with a primary focus of forming and leading those who do. This, of course, is the parish or diocesan catechetical leader.
The Responsibility of the Catechetical Leader
It is an honor, a privilege, and a great responsibility to serve as a catechetical leader, and those who take on this role recognize the importance of the part they are playing in the mission of the Church to make disciples (see Mt 28:19–20). To be able to deepen the faith, skill, and ability of catechists in a parish or diocese is a special kind of gift.
For some catechetical leaders, though, serving in this important role can, over time, take on an unexpected weight: the administrative duties and responsibilities the work entails. In some cases, that weight even becomes a burden.
Again, most catechists’ deep desire and joy is to be able to participate in the Church’s mission to make disciples. But most catechetical leaders’ participation in that mission isn’t as “direct” as is the typical catechist’s, or at least not in the way that most of those involved in catechetical ministry imagine it. The role of the catechetical leader oftentimes entails much more “desk work” and many more meetings, phone calls, emails, and so on. In other words, what many people think of as administrative work. And because this isn’t necessarily what someone with a zeal for catechesis signed up for, the excitement and enthusiasm for the work can diminish and be replaced with burden and burnout.