SYRACUSE — Catechists from all over the diocese gathered Saturday, Nov. 6 at Wawasee Middle School in Syracuse for the 20th annual Catechetical Institute Day. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was the keynote speaker for the event.
Besides his role as bishop of the diocese, Bishop Rhoades is active on several committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the committee of doctrine and subcommittee on the catechism. He also chairs several committees, is the episcopal moderator of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf and was recently appointed by the Vatican as co-chair of the International Theological Dialogue of the Catholic and Reformed Churches.
Bishop Rhoades welcomed attendees by saying, “I’ve discovered the people of Indiana get up a lot earlier than the people of Pennsylvania!”
He said he was glad to have this first opportunity to be with those who serve such an important ministry throughout the diocese. During his keynote speech he spoke to the catechists about Christocentric catechists and the importance of teaching as Christ did — through word and deed.
“Your responsibility to this holy task is a great one. The people entrusted to you and your ministry as catechists depend on you for their growth in holiness, for their growth and development as Catholic Christians as disciples of Jesus,” he said. “I encourage you to have a passion for your mission.”
Bishop Rhoades said that passion through their own encounters with Christ and the personal relationship each has with Christ would provide continuing motivation and vitality.
“If we are to foster formation of the hearts of our students in the love of God we must be attentive to the formation of our own hearts in His love.” Bishop Rhoades said. “I asked earlier how we teach holiness? The answer is simple — be holy.”
He said he realized that most catechists in attendance were directly involved in the teaching of and preparation for the sacraments.
“I believe that if our Catholic people truly understood and appreciated the truth and beauty of the sacraments we would have far fewer inactive Catholics and a great reduction in those who leave to join other churches or ecclesial communities which do not have the seven sacraments. Why would anyone choose to be deprived of those treasures of Divine Grace?” he asked.
In closing, Bishop Rhoades thanked the catechists for their dedication and said theirs was a “beautiful and wonderful vocation.”
“Your ministry is vital to the Church’s mission. It is your love of Christ and your joy in following Him that gives you the zeal and passion you need to lead others to Christ,” he said.
Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass with several priests who were presenters later in the day. Father Mark Gurtner, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Church, South Bend, gave the homily and spoke about a recent trip to Rome where he visited the ancient city where St. Monica lived.
He visited an ancient Christian basilica from the 4th century. “You can still make out the sanctuary and still see the signs where catechetical classes were held. It’s clear with the design of the basilica that the sanctuary and catechetical instruction went hand in hand.”
He wanted to give an encouraging word to those who might at times find it difficult to teach young people who may come from difficult circumstances.
“You might be tempted to think the mountains are too high or the obstacles too great to teach,” he said. “Remember Jesus does not ask you to bring growth. Jesus only asks you to sow the seed. Sow the seed without fear or discouragement and trust the all powerful God to bring forth a bountiful harvest.”
There were three sessions of workshops offered in English and Spanish with topics such as: Igniting Your Students for Confirmation; Truly God and Truly man: Understanding the Person of Christ; Understanding and Teaching Bible History; Apologetics Hot Button: What the Catholics Really Believe about Mary; Planning a Catechetical Lesson; Texting God: Teaching Teens to Pray and Getting the Most out of the Mass with the new translation of the missal.
Father Jacob Runyan, parochial vicar of St. Matthew Cathedral Parish, conducted “Getting the Most out of the Mass” and explained upcoming changes being implemented the first Sunday of Advent 2011. He said the changes are a continuation of Vatican II changes and when the Mass was translated from Latin they used the more dynamic or basic translation, where a basic thought was translated with a basic thought versus a formal translation, which is more concerned with content and order of the words.
Father Runyan said two major points were driving the changes — accuracy and the development of a sacred language for worshiping God.
Mother Theodore Guérin Award
Each year the Mother Theodore Guérin Award is presented at the Catechetical Institute Day to someone who’s given outstanding service to the catechetical program. This year’s recipient was Sister Jane Carew who served 23 years in the diocese as the director of the Office of Catechesis.
Jim Tighe, the current director made the announcement Saturday morning and also announced that Sister Carew was unable to be in attendance.
Meggan Young, event coordinator, said she believed Sister Carew was instrumental in the development of the Catechetical Institute Day over the years and may have even instigated the annual event.
Young said normally the award recipient is presented with a gift basket and a certificate but Sister Carew requested just a remembrance of the event.
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