Children's Catechesis: Forming Children &Teens as Missionary Disciples

Authored by Joseph D. White in Issue #7.3 of The Catechetical Review

In the 1997 General Directory for Catechesis, “Missionary Initiation” is listed as a sixth and unique task of catechesis. The 2020 Directory for Catechesis folds this task into the fifth task of catechesis, “Introduction to Community Life,” with the logic that an integral part of being formed in Christian community is learning to contribute to the growth of the community through our baptismal vocation as missionary disciples.[1] The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls mission work “a requirement of the Church’s catholicity,” meaning that because the Church is for all humanity, we must be a welcoming people, taking Christ’s message to others.[2] In fact, the Second Vatican Council called the Church “the universal sacrament of salvation.”[3] We are the visible sign to the world that Christ welcomes all to life in him. Taking Christ to the world is not only a collective responsibility, but also an individual one. In his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, Pope St. John Paul II calls missionary activity “a matter for all Christians.”[4] This includes, of course, the youngest Christians in our community, the children and teens we form in parish and school catechetical programs.


[1] See USCCB, Directory for Catechesis (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2020), no. 89.

[2] See Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 849–856.

[3] Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, no. 48.

[4] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 2.

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