The phone rings and the caller ID displays the parish number. Do you answer the call?
This year, the Church celebrates Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 15, the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The theme will be “Stay With Us.”
The celebration of Catechetical Sunday draws each person to reflect on their role, by virtue of their baptism, the mission that Jesus sets forth in the Gospel of Matthew, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)
According to Bishop Robert Barron, Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith, and those whom parishes have designated to serve as catechists will be called forth at Mass to be commissioned for the special ministry of education and support.
Bishop Barron’s welcome message
We live in an increasingly secularized society, which powerfully influences our young people, often compelling them to leave the Church altogether. The 2018 Saint Mary’s Press study, ‘The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics,’ includes extensive research on young Catholics who have left the Church. One of their most alarming findings was that youth stop identifying as Catholics at a median age of 13 for reasons ranging from disbelief to dissatisfaction with Church teaching.
Sociologist Christian Smith, renowned for his investigation of the phenomenon of disaffiliation, notes that many of the young people who have stopped identifying as Catholics tended to have ‘weak signs of attachment to the church’ in the first place. In other words, they were not formed very well in the faith.
At the same time, we have signs of hope. I was blessed to participate in the Vatican’s October 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment,” which found that young people who end religious practice do not necessarily end their spiritual desire. The Church must walk with young people and their families, listen to them with attention and love, and then be ready intelligently to give a reason for the hope that is within us.
Our resources this year are aimed on assisting the many dedicated faithful in their outreach to as missionary disciples particularly to the disaffiliated. Under our theme, ‘Stay With Us,’ we have produced a variety of articles, videos and podcasts focusing on the encounter, and accompaniment which builds a community that then sends forth as missionary disciples. In his recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Christus Vivit!’ Pope Francis reminds us that in addition to doctrine and morality “It is likewise important that it have two main goals. One is the development of the kerygma, the foundational experience of encounter with God through Christ’s death and resurrection. The other is growth in fraternal love, community life and service… All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma and incarnating it ever more fully in our lives. (213-214)
May our lives be an imitation of Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35) and accompany those entrusted to us into full community and discipleship.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Robert Barron, Chairman: Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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