Thursday, 16 September 2010 14:46
By Christopher M. Riggs
Bishop Michael O. Jackels told the catechists attending the Catechetical Fairs last weekend that all other ministries pin their hopes on them.
“All of the other ministries we might mention,” Bishop Jackels said, “such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, welcoming the immigrant – who does them? People who are followers of Jesus who are inspired by their knowledge of Jesus that led to love.”
Bishop Jackels, was unable to attend the events, so he spoke via DVD to the 260 religious educators who attended the fairs Saturday, Sept. 11, in Wichita and Sunday, Sept. 12, in Pittsburg.
Shelly Bole, program coordinator for the diocesan Office of Religious Education, said the fairs were wonderful gatherings for prayer and for learning.
“Those in catechetical ministry work so hard on getting ready that we sometimes forget to spend time in prayer,” Bole said. “One of the first goals of the fair was to spend time praying together. We are each a key part of the Body of Christ, the Church and as catechists our time gathered in prayer is powerful.”
She said many catechists told her how amazing the prayer time was both collectively and individually and how God was present to them in a special way as those attending gathered around the cross.
Master catechists representing religious education publishers also taught the catechists how to best use their materials and how to plan their formation time.
“We wanted our catechists to have confidence in their skills, their ministry, and to know that God has called each one of them, by name, for a specific purpose,” Bole said.
Bishop Jackels said he could identify with the religious educators.
“I have in my heart a special affection for parish catechists,” he said. “I have had for a long time. It was thrust upon me but it found a home there in my heart because for eight years I was the director of religious education in a diocese a little farther north, swathed in red.”
I spent a lot of time visiting with parish catechists to do what I could to support that parish ministry, he said. “I also have a special affection for teachers, especially teachers who teach others about Jesus, his Gospel, and his Catholic Church. It is right and just to have this special affection for you and for this ministry because knowledge leads to love. Love follows upon knowledge. You can’t love what you don’t know.”
All of the other ministries we might mention, Bishop Jackels said, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, welcoming the immigrant – who does them? “People who are followers of Jesus who are inspired by their knowledge of Jesus that led to love.”
All other ministries pin their hopes on you, he added.
Bishop Jackels thanked those attending the fair for taking even more time out of their lives to learn more about how to teach others about Jesus.
“If it’s possible, it’s only deepened my affection and made my gratitude towards you even more profound,” he said.
Referring to a letter from St. John Leonardi to Pope Paul V in the 1500s, Bishop said he wrote about what the church needed in order to be renewed, grow, and flourish.
“Nothing should be left untried that can train children from early childhood in good morals and in the earnest practice of Christianity. To this end, nothing is more effective than pious instructions in Christian doctrine. Children should be entrusted only to good and God-fearing teachers, (like yourselves, I might add), and he ends: great works are accomplished only by great people, and great people, (I add, like yourselves), should be involved in great works.”
Bishop closed by saying, “There is no greater work in my opinion and in the mind of the church than the work that we are engaged in, this catechetical ministry of helping others to know God and knowing God to love God and loving God choosing to serve God. And therein finding their happiness, both in this world, and in the next.”
Catechetical Sunday is Sept. 19
Catechetical Sunday this year focuses on “Matrimony: Sacrament of Enduring Love.” Those who have been designated by the community to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the role 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.
Listen to Bishop Jackels’ talk online
Bishop Michael O. Jackels address to the catechists of the Diocese of Wichita is online here.