I had the pleasure of listening to Bishop Blase Cupich (pronounced soopich) of Rapid City, South Dakota, speak at the NCEA convention in Indianapolis the other day. He spoke about exploring “proven pathways” for facing the challenges that we face in the catechetical ministry in our culture and times. In particular, he presented an Augustinian model of passing on the faith, grounded in St. Augustine’s communications to Deogratias (A.D. 403) titled “On the Catechizing of the Unistructed.”
Deogratias, a deacon, was having a hard time teaching the faith. He felt that his teaching was being perceived as “boring.” Sound familiar? Augustine responded with his advice for catechetical instruction. Bishop Cupich mined this tradition to speak to today’s catechists. He emphasized the following:
- the need for the catechist to know his or her subject which means that we each need to strive to know Jesus more deeply
- the need to know (really know) one’s students and to adapt catechetical methodology as needed
- the need to recognize prayer as the first duty of teaching the faith and for that prayer to be rich in sign and symbol
- the need to connect the present to the story of salvation history
- the need to teach with cheerfulness which he (Augustine) called hilaritas – an enthusiasm for teaching and a love for what we teach and who we teach.
Here is a good article written by Paul Turner about Augustine’s catechetical advice. [UPDATE: article no longer available.]
Thanks, Bishop Cupich, for offering these “proven pathways” for meeting today’s challenges!