Catechetical Saints: Saint Peter, Apostle and First Pope

Authored by Sr. M. Johanna Paruch in Issue #35.1 of The Sower

In September 2013, I had the privilege of attending an International Conference for Catechists in Rome, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It was a true blessing to be in Rome during the Year of Faith. We listened to several speakers, including Dr. Petroc Willey, the English consultant to this Pontifical Council, and Franciscan University alumna, Dr. Jem Sullivan. Two extraordinary things happened during those few days. The best, of course, was being able to shake hands with our Holy Father Pope Francis. I began weeping as soon as he entered the Audience Hall and as I held his hand for a few brief seconds. As he began his catechesis, I continued to weep as he affirmed all that I have been striving to do in forty years as a catechist. I honestly felt that St. Peter, the simple fisherman from Galilee, was speaking through this simple man from Argentina. And then I wept no more.

The second experience was attending Mass celebrated by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and the many bishops and priests who were attending the conference. Mass was celebrated upon the altar directly under the Chair of St. Peter, the symbol of the authority of the first Pope and his successors through two millennia. It was then that I decided that I would devote the next several issues of The Sower to Peter and the Apostles.

I wrote about St. Peter several years ago when I did a series of articles on catechetical saints who were popes. I am sure the life of Peter is well known to the readers. It is clear in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles, and in Peter’s letters contained in the New Testament. He was impetuous, he was flawed, and in the end he denied the One whom he believed to be the Messiah. Why did he do that? Did he reject Christ entirely? Hadn’t he left everything, including wife and family to follow Jesus? Was he afraid?

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