We catechists are constantly bombarded with words and phrases (e.g. divine pedagogy, missionary discipleship, evangelizing catechesis) that are intended to inspire our ministry but often leave us scratching our heads with regards to what they mean in practical terms and how we are to translate these concepts into actual strategies in our faith formation settings. One such phrase, as mentioned above, is evangelizing catechesis. Personally, I am convinced that we desperately need a more evangelizing catechesis. I’m not alone in this. But what does it mean for the average catechist, and what does it look like in practical terms? Let’s take a look, and then I’d like to offer you something to help you move in the direction of a more evangelizing catechesis.
I think we all know what catechesis is: it refers to all of the ways that we form people in faith; it is the teaching ministry of the Church. But what does evangelizing mean?
Simply put, to evangelize is to invite someone to be transformed. Christian evangelization invites people to be transformed by Jesus Christ. And what is to be transformed? The way one thinks and acts, in order to more closely resemble Jesus Christ. Too often, catechesis is thought of as the process of transmitting information. An evangelizing catechesis is about much more than information; it is about transformation. The goal of an evangelizing catechesis is to transform minds and hearts, leading to a new way of living and being. We catechists enable this transformation to take place, not by teaching a subject but rather by facilitating encounters with Jesus Christ. The evangelizing catechist asks him or herself: “How will I help my participants to encounter Christ in this faith formation session?”
To assist you in making this a reality, I am proud and happy to offer a new resource: my Template for an Evangelizing Catechetical Session. In this free resource, I outline what a typical 75-minute catechetical session should look and feel like in order to establish an evangelizing climate, a setting in which participants are continually being invited to encounter and be transformed by the presence of Christ. While this Template for an Evangelizing Catechetical Session can be used with any catechetical resource, it is particularly designed for use with the Finding God faith formation program that has an evangelizing flavor and is imbued with Ignatian spirituality.
I look forward to hearing from you about how you are seeking to become a more evangelizing catechist and how my Template for an Evangelizing Catechetical Session is assisting you in your endeavors!
For more on this topic, pick up a copy of my book, Beyond the Catechist’s Toolbox: Catechesis That Not Only Informs but Also Transforms.