Practically Speaking: Training Volunteer Catechists

Authored by Patty Norris in Issue #35.1 of The Sower

“So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?’“ (Acts 8:30-31)

Most parishes have a religious education program for their children. Most parishes have a RCIA process for adults. Most are staffed by volunteer “catechists”—parishioners who are generous with their time, love the Church and who want the next generation to flourish and grow in their Catholic faith. Most have little training. Most parishes don’t require training, because after all, these volunteers are already giving so much. And honestly, if a person is living and breathing and will show up, the DRE is glad to have him. I wish these latter statements were not true; and they are not true for all, but are for many.

As the person who stands at the Confirmation of young people and at the initiation of adults, and testifies in the context of Sacred Liturgy that the people being initiated have been prepared and that the Gospel has been proclaimed, the deposit of faith delivered and conversion begun, I am a little nervous. I would suggest that all of us should be.

I have no lofty solutions, just a few very simple suggestions to help your catechists be just that—catechists who echo the truth: a message that is not theirs, but entrusted to them as the birthright of the sons and daughters of God, who they are catechizing.

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