Catechists in Rwanda

What an amazing world we live in today where I am engaged in a dialogue with an Anglican minister from Rwanda about catechist formation!!! See below:

Good morning, Joe.

First, a little background.

I’m a missionary priest with the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. In an ironic circumstance which could only come about by the providence of God, the missionary jurisdiction to which I’m assigned is here in North America—Africa is sending missionaries back to the US in response to the situation in the Episcopal Church.

In Rwanda, the ministry of the catechist is very important, not just in terms of teaching the faith, but also because many of them serve as lay pastors of churches, since parishes typically only have one priest and there may be several congregations which are a part of that parish.

In the missionary context of North America, we have many lay-initiated church plants and a number of small parishes which do not have an assigned priest and may only have a priest visiting once a month. In these types of situations, a licensed catechist would be very helpful.

While I realize that the catechist in the Catholic Church do not have all of these functions, they do share the common role as lead teachers of the faith and I would assume that the content of the training required to become a catechist would be similar. I have the curriculum for this training in Rwanda, and it would not work in the US or Canadian context.

So, to my point …

I’ve been tasked to come up with a pilot program for training catechists. Any suggestions in terms of methods and materials would be greatly appreciated and a blessing.

Thanks for your work for the Kingdom.

Here’s my initial reply:

Dear Rev. -N-,

Praise God for the Internet which can bring people like you and me together! Who would have thought?

Thanks so much for your e-mail. I have heard that the role of the catechist in places like Africa and South America is quite different than in North America – a role of great honor and responsibility. Too often in the United States, it is seen as a minor form of volunteerism – a type of religious tutor. I’ve been working to bring about a transformation in that understanding…the catechist has a vocation!

Enough preaching!

Please tell me a little bit more about why the curriculum from Rwanda would not work in North America. Perhaps with a larger frame of reference, I can begin to respond to your inquiry and offer some specifics.

I look forward to hearing more from you. Thanks!

-joe

I’ll share more of our dialogue tomorrow.

About Joe Paprocki 2648 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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