Pope Francis Announces Major Recognition of Lay Catechists

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Pope Francis has announced that the role of catechist will now be recognized as a formal instituted ministry in the Church! While many, if not most Catholics, already considered the role of catechist to be a ministry, the Pope’s announcement in the apostolic letter Antiquum Ministerium raises it to a level of official recognition by the Church as an instituted ministry.

The Pope’s letter making the role of catechist an official ministry in the Church is not a “legalization” of the ministry for lay catechists, nor is it a pat on the head for lay catechists. It is a long-overdue recognition and affirmation of the vocation shared by countless numbers of lay people and is intended to advance the Church’s mission, contribute to the transformation of society, make the Church more present and fruitful in the world, renew the pastoral activity of the Church, heighten the need for quality catechist formation, and emphasize the missionary commitment of all the baptized.

Here is a good explanation of what it means to call the role of catechist an “instituted ministry.”

In the not-too-distant future, the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments will publish a Rite of Institution, which is more than a commissioning of catechists as is often done on Catechetical Sunday as a recognition by the parish. The Rite of Institution will be a recognition by the bishop or diocese. Likewise, episcopal conferences will determine formation processes and criteria for the ministry of catechist.

In upcoming posts here at Catechist’s Journey, we will talk more about the implications of this major announcement and how we here at Loyola Press will be ready to assist catechists, parishes, and dioceses in implementing and responding to these new processes and criteria.

Thank you, Holy Father, for this wonderful recognition of this most splendid and “ancient ministry” that is so dear to so many of us!

About Joe Paprocki 2527 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.

4 Comments on Pope Francis Announces Major Recognition of Lay Catechists

  1. Joe, I am very excited about the Pope’s decision on the Recognition of Lay Catechists. This is exceptionally great news. I look forward to further articles about this decision🙃

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