By Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI
This year the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 16, 2012, and will focus on the theme – “Catechists and Teachers as Agents of the New Evangelization.” Those whom the community has designated to serve as catechists need to be recognized on this special Sunday, and thanked for their participation in this basic ministry of our Catholic Church.
Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the roles that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith, and especially for those who have been called and prepared by the Church to share in this basic ministry for every parish community. All share in the great mission of the Church which is to bring the Gospel of Christ to people wherever people are found.
The theme for this year’s Catechetical Sunday fits in well with the call Pope Benedict XVI has announced for a special synod of Bishops of the world this Fall which will focus on the theme—“The New Evangelization for the transmission of the Christian Faith.” Although this important meeting will be held at an international level, it will soon begin to have an impact at the national, diocesan, and parish levels as the Pope prepares and publishes an Apostolic exhortation, a papal message, after the synod has taken place. The New Evangelization synod is expected to focus on the family’s role as recipients of the New Evangelization, and how this evangelization is to be shared in our teaching and in our liturgical life.
As the people of the Diocese of San Angelo realize, when we marked the 50th anniversary of our Diocese, a few months ago we chose Family Life and Marriage as the number one ministry of our Diocese, and the number one priority is to focus on the sacredness of all human life, especially that of the unborn, and respecting the dignity of that life until God calls it home.
Catechetical Sunday reminds us that catechesis, teaching, and promoting our religious beliefs, is a distinct and special ministry in the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear, “Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life…her inner growth and correspondence with God’s plan depend essentially on catechesis.” [no.7]
Parents are truly the primary catechists of their children. They prepare the soil and plant the first seeds of faith. On Catechetical Sunday, we not only highlight the work of catechists in parishes and schools, but we also commend parents and guardians and encourage them to take seriously their role of making their Catholic households a place where faith is passed on to the next generation.
As we mark this special Sunday in the life of the Church, I take this opportunity to thank our Office of Religious Education and Catechesis, headed by Sister Hilda Marotta and Sister Adelina Garcia and staff, for all that they are constantly doing to build up our religious education program, catechesis in our Diocese. And I am very grateful to all the catechists of our parishes, especially our volunteers, for all their generous time and service that you give to this important ministry. I appreciate you very much, and I am very grateful to you.