What does the new Ministry of Catechist mean for our parishes?

What does the new Ministry of Catechist mean for our parishes?

Posted: Tue, 11 May 2021 19:43

What does the new Ministry of Catechist mean for our parishes?

Pope Francis announced great news for parochial ministry last Wednesday morning in Rome: on his own authority ('Motu proprio'), he would be establishing an official ministry of Catechist. The Holy Father wants to officially sanction the role of so many hardworking parishioners who help us to pass on the faith. He is giving the Ritas, Johns and Sandras of our parishes an official responsibility and recognising their talents. Our parish catechists are in the frontline of supporting families and children in their journey of faith.

The official document, 'Antiquum Ministerium', was released today, 11th May 2021. For our parishes, it will seal an understanding that we have long shared: in good Salesian parish ministry, we do not work, as Prof John Lydon points out, in a 'baronial' way—we have all met those clergy who have told us that it 'MY way or the Highway'.

True parish ministry is about collaboration and working as a team. Parish Catechists are a vital part of that team and allow the parish to run smoothly. Their skill, especially in working with children in communion class, and teenagers in confirmation class, lies at the heart of what a good Salesian parish should be about. They work with our young people, offering them a vision and view for the future—they are also in a unique position to LISTEN to what our young people are saying to us. They share a special bond with them and allow our parishes to thrive. It would be wonderful to think that parish families will be able to come together to witness their Catechists making a promise to be true to their ministry— just as we see our Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist offer their service.

It is good to see that Pope Francis recognises the valuable ministry of these special friends. As the Body of Christ, we can only move forward together; this official recognition of our crucial parish workers allows us to move forward, recognising the priesthood that we all share in baptism. It will recognise the true calling of our Catechists, as the Pope observed:

Being a catechist is a vocation … and is a true and genuine ministry in the church

Pope Francis, Video message to the Second International Congress of Catechists. 20/09/2018

Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB

Read the Apostolic Letter 'Antiquum Ministerium' (Ancient ministry) on the Vatican website - link below.

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