In today’s world, the concept of “coaches” has really grown. Now, we not only have coaches for sports, but we have business coaches, relationship coaches, life coaches, and so on. (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just Google life coaches and you’ll see what I mean)
I like to think of catechists as “faith coaches.” I used this term last night when I spent the evening with the 6th grade families at St. Julian Eymard in Elk Grove Village. The DRE made a plug for one more 6th grade catechist and she encouraged the dads who were present to consider serving as a catechist. As I began my presentation, I added a plug, telling the folks that I was an 8th grade catechist and making the following comment to the dads: “I think a lot of us guys are more comfortable volunteering for coaching positions. We feel confident coaching sports: baseball, football, basketball. Well, I like to think of catechists as “faith coaches!” We are training our young people to learn the art of living as disciples of Jesus. We are teaching skills and concepts for a way of life. So I encourage you to consider this invitation…these kids need you.”
I’m not sure what kind of response the DRE got but I know that a number of the parents and especially the dads appeared to be listening intently as I shared this comparison. Perhaps it was a new way of thinking about the concept of serving as a catechist that shifted the emphasis from nurturing to empowering.
The term coach originally was used solely to refer to a carriage: a buggy that carried people…a form of transport. In 18th century England, specifically at Oxford University, the word coarch came to be used as a slang term to refer to someone who “carried” students through exams. As catechists, we “carry” those we teach through the challenges of life which test one’s faith. Let us pray that we “carry” well!