At this time of year hundreds of our parish catechists around the Diocese will be reflecting and reviewing the sacramental programmes that have been running in the parish for the past year.
The Diocesan Office for Catechesis helps many parishes with this process of review. We thought you might like to know that being a catechist is not all hard work and doctrine. In her novel The Colour Purple, Alice Walker, through the character Celie, reminds us that life is not a matter of hurrying about doing good deeds to earn God’s approval. Life is, rather, taking time to notice, appreciate, and praise God for the gifts he has provided for our enjoyment.
Sometimes we can get so absorbed in our responsibilities that we take ourselves too seriously. It is then, if we take the time to notice, that God can send us a reminder to ‘lighten up’. Because catechists are privileged to engage young children and adults in matters that are important and sacred, misunderstandings and misstatements are bound to occur. Some are humorous, some are tender, and some are profound.
Here are a few examples of things catechists have experienced and shared with us:
A catechist remembers when she was growing up in a London parish how she and her classmates struggled to memorise passages from the Penny Catechism. One day, her classmate Kevin was called upon to answer the question, ‘Who is God?’ Kevin must not have been listening carefully when he was being drilled on the right answer (God is the supreme being who created all things), because he stood next to his desk and nervously blurted, ‘God is the string bean who created all things.’
A catechist in Hertfordshire invited the children to voice their special intentions during morning prayer. A little girl asked that everyone pray for the family of ducks that had made her back garden their home. ‘I know they’re a family,’ said the little girl, ‘because there’s a male and an e-mail and their baby.’
A catechist spent an entire session extolling the wonderful season of Lent. It was only when he asked the students for suggestions of things they could do for Lent that he realised they all thought he had been talking about lint.
Happy Birthday, Jesus!
A catechist stood before her first Holy Communion group and asked them to name the holy days of the church’s year. The parish priest happened to be visiting the group that day. They got through all of them, but for some reason could not think of Christmas.
Finally the priest said, ‘Children, when is Jesus’ birthday?’ After a few seconds, Maggie in the first row raised her hand. The catechist called on her. ‘Margaret?’ ‘Every day’ Maggie said, ‘is Jesus’ birthday, because Jesus is in all of us, and every day is someone’s birthday.’