As the catechetical landscape continues to shift and more faith communities are exploring and implementing various catechetical models—especially family catechesis models—it begs the question: Do we need to find a different kind of catechist for family faith formation?
The answer is “Yes” and “No.”
Let’s start with the “No.” Obviously, we still need people who are well-formed in their Catholic faith, who have a passion and desire for sharing God’s Word, and who possess good communication skills. That hasn’t changed.
So, what is different? More than ever, we need people who can think outside the box of a classroom model and more in line with a small faith group model. A catechist for family faith formation should be less of a teacher and more of a facilitator and companion. I would argue that all catechists should be moving away from classroom models; however, this is more urgent when it comes to family faith formation. Families are not being asked to “attend class” together! Rather, we are inviting them to have an experience of sharing faith and encountering God’s grace in their own domestic church, and it is the role of the catechist to support and empower parents to make this a reality and to engage children within the context of family.
Where do we find people who are equipped to handle this role? Pretty much in the same places where we look for any catechist: within the local faith community and the various gatherings and ministries of that faith community. Perhaps, however, our focus will be adjusted so that we are searching for people who are very much in tune with family life and the domestic church, namely, parents (those with young children as well as those with grown children) and grandparents.
I can’t help but think of the following quote from Tom Quinlan’s book, Excellence in Ministry: Best Practices for Successful Catechetical Leadership (part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series): “Faith-formation ministry needs to be not so much about catechizing children as about evangelizing households.” The catechist that we need is someone who embraces and embodies this vision!
I’d love to hear from those of you who are using family faith formation models. Do you find that you are looking for a different kind of catechist? How so? Where are you finding people to serve as catechists in your family faith formation model? Please share your comments in the “Leave a Reply” space below.