What’s Up with Catechetical Sunday?

Alison writes:

Hi Joe , could you please give me an explanation on why and when Catechetical Sunday was started and the role of catechists and the community as with regard to catechetical sunday?

Here’s some good background on what Catechetical Sunday is all about and how it came about (I found this on the Web site for the Diocese of Fargo) –

The third Sunday of September in the United States is celebrated as Catechetical Sunday in order to acknowledge, appreciate and commission those who are catechists. In his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio Pope John Paul II, says: “Among the laity who become evangelizers, catechists have a place of honor…Catechists are among those who have received Christ’s command to ‘go and teach all nations’” (Guide for Catechists, 33).

Among the catechetical tasks proper particularly to parish priests is the task to “foster a recognition and appreciation for catechists and their mission” (General Directory for Catechesis, 225). The celebration of Catechetical Sunday provides a means to do so.

The idea of establishing a catechetical day in each parish was presented by Pope Pius XI in his instruction entitled On Better Care for Catechetical Teaching (Provido sane consilio) published in 1935. In paragraph 25, he writes that the day should be a day in which…

a. The faithful should be called together in the parish, and having received the Holy Eucharist, they should pray to obtain greater fruit from catechesis (divine teaching)

b. A special sermon should be preached to the people on the necessity of catechetical instruction. Parents are to be told about their duty to instruct their children in Catholic doctrine and to send them to parish catechism (religion) classes.

c. Books, pamphlets, and other material suitable for the purpose should be distributed.

d. A collection may be taken up for the promotion of catechetical works.

The first celebration of a national catechetical day in our country is recorded to be on October 30, 1935, in Rochester, N.Y. By 1944, the practice was in every part of the union and by 1955 most dioceses celebrated the day on the third Sunday in September.

About Joe Paprocki 2744 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.

16 Comments on What’s Up with Catechetical Sunday?

  1. I wish my parish did more for Catechetical Sunday. We have an intention in the prayer of the faithful. Which is nice, don’t get me wrong, but I wish all the Catechists understood their role and the importance of what they do (and the need for personal spiritual growth). Thanks for all you do, Joe!

    • “I wish all the Catechists understood their role and the importance of what they do (and the need for personal spiritual growth).”

      Total ditto.

      You know what’s weird? At my parish there are oodles of well-informed, self-catechized Catholics; and I can’t persuade any of ’em to become catechists.

      Of course the problem may be the messenger more than the message.

  2. We do something similar. Catechists are given recognition and called to the front of the church after the homily. They are given a certificate and a blessing.

  3. The DRE would say something about each Catechist as they came forward and then all the Catechist were blessed. Example: Mary Jo is new this year. She is a Mom of 3 children and is excited to teach 2nd grade to prepare children for First Reconciliation.
    Dennis has been with us for 20 years and continues to teach 8th grade for us with wit and charm.

  4. We recognize the catechists as they are called to the altar to receive a blessing and a certificate. Then we have a family breakfast after Mass. Would love to know what others do. The catechists are SO important!

    Thanks Joe for all you do.

  5. We Recognize the Catechists but we have too many of them. I think they need to call them all up to the frount of the alater then bless them there and go and give the Catechists the awards who got them.

  6. Hello Joe,

    I watched a few of your videos on Youtub and I liked them a lot. I wonder if you can share with me the script of your talk on the Youtub video on “10 Reasons to be a catechist.” I would like to post it on our San Gabriel Mission Parish’s bulletin this week in San Gabriel, CA to recruit catechists on Catechetical Sunday.

    Thank you for your consideration and may God bless you, your family and your ministries.

    Peace and blessings,
    Sr. Mary-Han Nguyen
    Director of Faith Formation
    San Gabriel Mission Parish
    (626) 457-3043 Ext. 231

  7. I am emailing from Botswana whic h is in Southern Africa. I belong to Our Lady of the Desert Parish.

    I and my wife was asked to give a 10 min message on How Others affected our lives and vice versa.

    What can we share in relation to Catechetical Sunday.

    Be Blessed

    • Bobby, greetings to you and all catechists in Botswana! I suggest you talk about people in your life who catechized you…who were the people who shaped your faith? How can you shape others’ faith in the same way?

  8. In Provido sane consilio, I believe the instruction for a “Catechetical Day” begins on Paragraph 38.

    Thanks so much. I have to write an article for this Sunday’s bulletin and your article/blog has been helpful.

  9. Hi thanks for the information
    I am from Maria Mater Eclessiae in South Africa
    We here celebrate it with all the children in the classes
    The children make posters with the Theme of
    The year and also a song and it is such a big day for all of us

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