Deb Wagner
Freelance Writer
October 21, 2020 // Diocese

Virtual Catechetical Day theme inspired by Pope Francis

Deb Wagner
Freelance Writer

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will launch a bilingual Virtual Catechetical Day for directors of religious education, catechists, youth ministers, parents and volunteers who work with youth on Oct. 24.

In past years, participants gathered for Mass, breakout sessions and lunch together.This year a virtual event is planned instead, in order to avoid bringing people together in one place and risking spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The focus will be bringing catechetical training to the parish level, with flexible options. People can gather at the parish and view the series of video presentations in its entirety, or in segments; catechists can gather in small groups or watch the videos alone.

The theme for the event is “Let the Children Come to Me: Encountering Christ in Catechesis.” It is co-sponsored by the offices of Hispanic Ministry and Catechesis with talks offered in English and Spanish. There is no cost to participate.

The premise for this year’s theme originates with Pope Francis. Dr. Jonathan Kaltenbach, director of the Office of Catechesis said: “From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has encouraged us to put evangelization and the basic proclamation, or ‘kerygma,’ of the Gospel front and center – that Jesus accepted His cross and rose again to free us from our sins and bring us to the freedom of His kingdom.”

Kaltenbach said this makes him recall the Emmaus account at the end of St. Luke’s Gospel.

“On Easter Sunday, Jesus opens the Scriptures to the two disciples and accompanies them on their journey, but this is all directed to the Eucharist — the ‘breaking of the bread.’ The two disciples then have the joy and new strength to return the 7 miles on foot to Jerusalem that night and bring news of Jesus’ resurrection to the other disciples.” Kaltenbach said the lesson in this passage is that only by coming repeatedly and frequently to the Lord in worship and prayer arepeople who work with the youth of the diocese able to understand God’s love for the youth and receive the strength to sustain them in the work of catechesis and evangelization.

During this past summer, the Vatican published a new “Directory for Catechesis” that is intended to help those who participate in the keynote and small groups see catechetical work through what Jesus did, so believers could experience eternity with God.

Paco Gavrilides, missionary, evangelist and homiletics instructor

The keynotes, “The Kerygma and Catechesis” and “¿Cómo enseñar a los jóvenes a orar?” will be offered by Professor Paco Gavrilides, homiletics instructor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. Since he converted to Catholicism in 1968, Gavrilides has dedicated his life to serving Christ and the Church with his passion to share the Gospel.

He is a teacher, speaker and evangelist who has worked with many dioceses, movements and individuals both nationally and internationally. He has been especially active in leadership formation, men’s ministry, family ministry and evangelization among Hispanics and African Americans. Gavrilides is also a frequent conference speaker with public speaking ability in both English and Spanish.

With his help, participants will see how evangelization and accompaniment are directed, ultimately, to the worship of God with one’s brothers and sisters in Christ.

At 11 a.m. on Oct. 24, there will be a live breakout session hosted by diocesan personnel on Zoom about Catechesis during COVID-19. To receive the Zoom meeting information, advance registration is required and can be found at This session will be recorded for future viewing.

Additional breakout session topics include prayer, parish ministry, sacramental preparation and the emotional and mental health of children. To participate, visit For those who register for the Oct. 24, 11 a.m. Zoom breakout session, a link will be emailed prior to the discussion.

Keynote and breakout sessions are available as pre-recorded videos and can be watched any time. A sample schedule is provided for parish groups, and a participant packet offers prayers, reflection questions to accompany the videos and additional resources.

Topics and Speakers

  • Keynote: The Kerygma and Catechesis – Prof. Paco Gavrilides
  • Prayer in the Family – Alicia Nagy

  • Getting More Out of Your Weekly Catechesis – Cyndi Wolf

  • Fostering Devotion in Children before First Communion – Betsy Williams

  • Practical Tips for Confirmation Preparation – Chad Helmkamp

  • Social/Emotional Health of Our Children during the Pandemic – Mary Glowaski

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