Educate the Educators; Catechize the Catechists


5/ Educate the educators; catechize the catechists
The situation today points to an ever increasing urgency for a doctrinal formation of the lay faithful, not simply in better understanding which is natural to Faith's dynamism, but also in enabling them to 'give reason for their hope' in the view of the world and its grave and complex problems (Vatican II, On the Apostolate of Lay People, 60).
Catechesis, at all levels — in our homes, in our parishes, in our schools, colleges, and universities — will become a dynamic and effective reality in the degree to which our laity, whether parents, catechists, teachers or others, are well formed in the Church's teaching and willing to bear witness to the person of Jesus Christ in their own lives. When those responsible for passing on the faith are committed to living out their vocation to holiness, based on a sound understanding and solid personal spirituality, then our teaching efforts become a real "school of faith" bearing fruit in a deepening of Christian life for all the faithful.

To assist them in their work and in their own formation, it is recommended that:
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church forms the basis for all catechetical programs in our schools and parishes and that regular workshops on the Catechism be offered throughout the archdiocese. It is further recommended that a copy of the Catechism be given to every Catholic at the time they enter into full communion with the Church, i.e. confirmation, along with instruction in its importance and practice in its use. The Catechism should be a standard text, taught from, referred to, and used regularly by students throughout their years of Catholic secondary and post-secondary education.

  • We work to ensure that Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) and Parish Religious Education Programs (PREP) teachers have fulfilled at least the equivalent of a basics of the faith course, that they be strong committed Christians with a developed personal spirituality, and that they have had some instruction in proper teaching methodology. These goals could be adopted as a model for all who are engaged in catechesis.

  • In the face of the pervasive negative influences today affecting our society, we meet the challenge of rising secularism, materialism, and moral relativism through the teaching ministry of the archdiocese. We recommend that dynamic and faith-filled speakers be recruited for the annual Catholic Educator's Conference and for the annual Religious Education Congress. These speakers should be able to engage and challenge our teachers and catechists on the critically important and often highly controversial issues of our day.

  • Regardless of where they received their post-secondary education all Catholic teachers require resources and understandings necessary to represent the positive religious, historical, and cultural impact of Catholicism to their students. The ongoing spiritual formation and intellectual education of our teachers in the meaning of Catholic faith and culture and in the unique character of an authentic Catholic education is at the very heart of our efforts to preserve and deepen the Catholic identity of our schools. A main focus of the annual Catholic Educator's Conference should therefore be to provide advanced instruction in Catholic faith and culture. It is further recommended that we work to establish an academically outstanding Catholic teachers' college in the archdiocese at the earliest opportunity.

  • There be a more developed chaplaincy presence in our Catholic high schools in order to enhance catechesis within the school environment (i.e. with students, teachers, other staff).

  • We develop sound parish programs to help parents prepare their children for the reception of the sacraments.

  • Parish retreats and parish missions be encouraged throughout the archdiocese.

  • We support and promote Catholic colleges and universities that show themselves to be dynamic and authentic representatives of the Church's teaching ministry.



These recommendations are taken from the "Synod Study Paper on Teaching the Faith", prepared for the Vancouver Archdiocesan Synod in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. This document was the working paper and formed the basis for one of the final documents of the Synod, "Teaching the Faith".

Next & final installment: Breaking Open the Word of God

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