With the catechetical year set to get underway in just a few weeks, now is a good time to reflect on where you are directing your efforts and decide on any changes that you may need to make in the year to come.
This evaluation and planning process may benefit from a brief review of the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC). Intended to be a central reference point for all aspects of catechesis, the GDC presents valuable norms and guidelines for religious educators, teachers, and parish catechists working with children, teens, adults, and families.
As I reviewed the GDC in planning for the coming year, I noticed that the GDC places catechesis squarely within the realm of its social justice activity. Unless our faith formation programs move people into action in the Church and in the world, they will fail. Catechesis is not just another class where attendance is required; rather, catechesis should connect people to the social action of the Church. It is in social action that Christ is met in the flesh and blood of the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, and the abandoned. It is in social action that we bring the light of the Gospel and find it. People need to meet Christ; we must not be content with simply teaching people about him. As I reflect on this focus I am forced to ask this question: Do my faith formation programs move people—whether they be adults, teens, or children—to actively live their faith in the world?
This goes beyond performing service hours (which very quickly become one more class requirement to complete). I need to be able to inspire people to move their faith out of the classroom and into the world. I need to ensure that the mission of the Church is not some distant idea, but a mission in which we are intimately involved.
As a result of my review, I am trying to integrate service with my faith formation programs. For example, we have a number of senior care facilities within our parish boundaries as well as an increasing immigrant population struggling to meet its needs. Taking time out of the classroom to serve these populations, for example, will allow the people in faith formation to meet Christ face-to-face.
How do you integrate service within your faith formation programs? How do your faith formation programs leave the classroom and enter the world, serving people in need?