We have a new chief catechist! Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, brings with him to the papacy an approach to catechesis as a “splendid mission” that is a “pillar of the Church.” These are words that the former Cardinal Bergoglio used to celebrate a Day of the Catechist in Buenos Aries in 2010. What else did he say about catechesis and catechists? Here’s a sample:
- He expressed gratitude for the “silent and committed dedication” of catechists.
- He asked God to ”rejuvenate” catechists and said that “the renewal of pastoral care and of catechesis will not depend on great programs and structures, but on new men and women who embody this tradition and novelty, as disciples of Jesus Christ and missionaries of his Kingdom.”
- “It is always good to recall that that child, that youth and that adult that God puts on our path is not a glass that we must fill with content or a person to conquer. The Lord already dwells in their heart, given that he always precedes us. Our task will be simply to help to unveil, to make explicit the presence of him who is already present and has the power to fill every life.”
- He explained that this “splended mision” needs “witnesses rather than teachers” and that there is a greater need than ever of catechists who are ”joyful, committed…renewed in their fervor, who make present that style of missionary Church that knows about frailty — one’s own and that of others — and because of this goes out, listens, embraces and supports.”
- In conclusion, he added, “Do not tire of sowing.”
So, what does it mean to have a Jesuit as our chief catechist? Jesuit leadership is very distinct. In his book, Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450 Company that Changed the World, author Chris Lowney identifies 4 characteristics of Jesuit leadership:
Self-awareness: Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, values, and worldview
Ingenuity: Confidently innovating and adapting to a changing world
Love: Engaging others with a positive attitude that unlocks their potential
Heroism: Energizing yourself and others with heroic ambitions and a passion for excellence
Together with Francis our Pope, may we catechists grow in self-awareness, ingenuity, love, and heroism, so that we may more effectively carry out the “splendid mission” that has been entrusted to us!
P.S. good article in Forbes Magazine about Jesuit leadership