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March 2005 | Volume 16, Number 2


the pastor

as catechetical leader

Special: Daniel Mulhall on the new National Directory for Catechesis

I N T HIS I SSUE : Reaching the ‘Heart’ Level Between Vision and Reality: a Slow Dance Looking at the Parish—Looking in the Mirror CATECHETICAL UPDATE: Catechesis in the African American Community



Table of Contents

March 2005

In Every Issue 2 From the President 3 15 17 25 24

Anne Comeaux What It Means To Be “Member Driven” From the Executive Director Neil A. Parent The Pastor As Catechetical Leader Books in the News Reviewed by Janet Schaeffler, OP Praying Our Goodbyes Tech Center by April Dietrich Technology for Ministry: A Crash Course People in the News Crossword Puzzle Megan Anechiarico Parish Catechesis Keys


A Brief Walk through the National Directory for Catechesis page 4

Reaching the ‘Heart’ Level page 6

The Pastor as Catechetical Leader 6 Reaching the ‘Heart’ Level 9 Between Vision and Reality: a Slow Dance 12 Trying Out New Wineskins 13 Looking at the Parish— Looking in the Mirror Focus on Leadership 4 A Brief Walk through the National Directory for Catechesis

Msgr. Pat Bishop Fr. Thomas P. Ivory Fr. Khanh Ho Fr. Terry Odien

Daniel S. Mulhall

Catechetical Update Catechesis in the African American Community u1 Let the Church Say Amen! J-Glenn Murray, S.J. u6 To Teach in the Vernacular Therese Wilson Favors Historic Symposium on Black Catechesis Still Shows the Way Forward

Let the church say Amen! Udpate page U1

NCCL BOARD OF DIRECTORS Ms. Anne Comeaux President Diocese of Galveston-Houston Rev. Anthony J. Salim Vice President Maronite Eparchy of Los Angeles Ms. Mary Ann Ronan Treasurer St. Paul Parish, Phoenix, AZ

Mr. David J. Florian Secretary Diocese of Kalamazoo Most Rev. Richard Malone Episcopal Advisor Diocese of Portland, ME Mr. Neil A. Parent Executive Director Washington, DC


Ms. Carol Augustine At-large Archdiocese of Baltimore Dr. Harry Dudley At-large Archdiocese of Indianapolis Ms. Maribeth Mancini At-large Diocese of Rochester

Ms. Cathy Shannon At-large Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon Mr. James E. Tucker At-large Diocese of Helena, MT Dr. Michael Steier Ex-officio USCC Department of Education

NCCL STAFF Mr. Neil A. Parent Executive Director Ms. Joyce A. Crider Sr. Katherine J. Kandefer, BVM Associate Directors Patricia Vrabel Office Manager


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE “MEMBER DRIVEN” by Anne Comeaux NCCL has always been very clear about that we are a member driven organization— and proud of it. It was easier to grasp that fact when we had about 200 members. Over the past five to seven years we have experienced an explosion in our membership so that now we are over 2600 strong. This is really good news! Our increased membership is good news because it means that more people at every level of catechetical ministry have seen NCCL as the place where they can find formation, resources and networking. Diocesan directors and staff members are the historical “thread” of NCCL membership. Since the inception of NCCL (then NCDD) the diocesan catechetical leaders have been on the scene. The increasing numbers of parish catechetical leaders are a blessing to our organization. They keep us focused on the basics of the ministry and humble us by showing the many areas of expertise and responsibility that are alive and well in the catechetical arena.

Since we are member driven, we depend upon all of our membership to be active in the organization.

With increased numbers of members there are more responsibilities to be met at all levels. The national office needs to increase the number of staff members. There is always a need for more members on that staff but we are restricted by our ever-tight budget and will hire more staff when it is financially appropriate. The elected leadership of NCCL consists of a four-person executive committee and five at-large board members elected by the Representative Council. The Board directs the work of the conference, staffs committees, and sees that NCCL is

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Volume 16, Number 2

following its by-laws and directives. The Representative Council is made up of province representatives, DRE association designees, and representatives of our partner organizations. Representative Council is a real working body that initiates ideas and then sees that work is delegated to proper committees that serve the conference. Since we are member driven, we depend upon all of our membership to be active in the organization. Many of our committee chairpersons must, by order of the association directives, be members of the Representative Council or the Board. However, staff positions on those committees are open to all members of NCCL. Being a member of a committee is a great way to get to know the organization and to know better the membership. When you have a stake in an organization by virtue of talents offered and time invested you increase your level of pride and ownership. If you are interested in serving on one of NCCL’s many committees, get in touch with me by mail, phone or email. (As president I am charged to make all committee assignments.) Some of the committees are: publications, standards and certification, membership, development, catechesis and culture, research, technology, communications, theoretical foundation for catechesis in the U.S., recruitment and retention, and catechist formation. Most of the work of the committees is done electronically either via email or by conference calls. Many committees meet in person only at the annual conference and/or at the Representative Council meetings. You can check out the work of many of the committees on our website: Our organization is blessed with many gifted and talented persons and we are reliant upon the generosity of many to promote and sustain the catechetical ministry in this country. To remain who we are we rely on our membership. I can assure you that committee membership will be hard work but it will also be enriching for your life and your ministry. I am waiting to hear from YOU! ❙



THE PASTOR AS CATECHETICAL LEADER by Neil A. Parent A number of years ago, I read a fascinating report on how St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, decided to “go it alone” during a six-month sabbatical of its rector, Jim Adams. Rather than have another rector fill in for the time that Adams would be studying in Salisbury, England, the congregation, with the blessings of the bishop, laid plans for the laity to handle the parish’s pastoral needs, supported by visiting priests for the essential liturgical services. The report offered rich insights into the mechanics of lay ministry, including a frank airing of the challenges faced by both Adams and the congregation in planning for his departure and adjusting to his return. Both he and the laity gained new appreciation for each others’ roles in running a successful parish. In one chapter’s conclusion, a lay leader made the following observation about the experience: “We welcomed the return of a leader whose full-time job could not be replaced on a voluntary basis—a leader who maintains a constant center of caring, resources, action, and reaction. We had a new clarity about which roles were vital for him to fill. But we also saw a new organizational balance...of mature, independent lay leaders interacting with the rector in a new kind of community that seemed to be evolving within the parish. We were indeed the richer for our investment in our rector and our experiment in lay leadership.” Perhaps there was no greater insight from the experience on the part of the lay leaders than how central to the wellbeing of the parish is the role of pastor. In summing up her experience of the sabbatical, St. Mark’s warden, Verna Dozier, (whom I had the good fortune of meeting in my ecumenical travels), said that “the church as an organization, like every other organization, needs at its center someone whose vocational center is the organization.” Those of us who have been in catechetical ministry for some time know of what Dozier speaks. We know how essential the role of the pastor is to successful catechesis. We have been talking for years about the fact that it takes an entire parish, working harmoniously in all its facets, to conduct a catechetical program that adequately nourishes the faith life of all its members. Indeed, the recent emphasis on “whole community catechesis” is rightfully bringing the pastor’s role as chief catechist back to the center of the discussion. The General Directory for Catechesis uses the metaphor of seeds in its exploration of the nature and practice of effective catechesis. The

message is that it takes rich soil—or at least suitably fertile soil—for the seeds of good catechesis to germinate and grow. And that’s where the pastor comes in. He, more than anyone else in the parish, is able to cultivate the soil in ways that are not otherwise possible. His vision of ministry, his leadership at worship, his pastoral skills in empowering others for ministry—indeed, his very presence to those he serves day in and day out—all condition the topsoil that receives and germinates the seeds of ministry. When the pastor does not energize the parish community and call it forth in worship and service, the soil that makes up the parish can easily become dry and hard—too sterile to support the plants of knowledge and formation that comprise effective catechesis. As the St. Mark’s experience demonstrated, it takes more than one person, even a great pastor, to effectively lead a parish community. Still, his leadership is irreplaceable in maintaining the long-term health of the community. A pastor may arrive at a parish with an already established catechetical program, but if he is not able to keep it and the parish growing, things will soon begin to atrophy. For good or ill, the parish and its programs eventually reflect the vitality and character of its pastor. Leadership is about leading. Leaders set the vision, the tone and the know-how for getting from here to there. The best leaders, of course, know that they exercise their leadership in concert with those they lead. They are about the business of empowering others, of bringing forth others’ gifts for the sake of the mission. And when success is achieved, they are quick to point out their indebtedness to all those who helped get things done. But the bottom line is that they are the catalysts. Unless they provide the spark and point in the direction of the horizon, things can—and often do—stay much as they are. It is for reasons such as these that Catechetical Leader decided to focus this issue on the essential role of pastor in catechetical ministry. The pastor is the catechetical leader of the faith community; and we do well to pause to reflect on his role and to affirm his efforts. Many pastors were early innovators of practices that now comprise effective contemporary catechesis, and we are indebted to them for their significant contribution to the development of the ministry. We are especially grateful to the four pastors who share their experiences with us in this issue. Two of them, I am pleased to note, are former NCCL presidents. ❙

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A Brief Walk through the

National Directory for Catechesis by Daniel S. Mulhall


fter four years, three consultations, numerous drafts, and one nearly unanimous vote by the Catholic bishops of the United States, the National Directory for Catechesis has now been approved for use throughout the United States by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Clergy. The recognitio was granted on December 16, 2004. This new National Directory for Catechesis (henceforth NDC) is scheduled to be published on or about May 1, 2005. The NDC will replace the original national directory for the United States, Sharing the Light of Faith. The NDC will have no other name than the National Directory for Catechesis. When the NDC is published it will be accompanied by a leader’s guide containing resources—including power point presentations and content guides—for implementing the Directory, an in-depth summary of the Directory intended to help the catechetical leader gain a quick understanding of the NDC’s breathe and depth, and a brief, four page summary aimed at general parish use. The bishops on the Committee on Catechesis have decided not to publish an official commentary, preferring that those engaged in catechetical ministry read and use the NDC itself. The NDC will originally be published in English. A Spanish translation of the Directory is being prepared and will be published as soon as possible. In order to insure that the Spanish translation is done correctly, the translation will be reviewed by catechetical and theological experts who are fluent in Spanish. The resource materials will also be translated into Spanish. The Spanish training materials will be published along with the NDC.

GENERAL OVERVIEW The last time that most people in the catechetical community saw a draft copy of the NDC was in May 2003 when many bishops conducted a final review of the document with members of their school and catechetical offices. From this consultation the bishops submitted 1,462 amendments to the document, of which 1,189 were accepted. (The operating procedure on bishops’ documents is that all amendments will be accepted unless to do so would change the document in some substantial way that the sponsoring committee cannot accept, or unless the proposed amendment has already been treated in some other way. Most of the amendments suggested the rewording of passages for clarity, although a few were more substantive.) I’m often asked what I think about the document. I must confess that the more I work with it, the more I like it. I find that the NDC builds faithfully upon the catechetical foundations established by Sharing the Light of Faith (SLF) and the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC).

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The bishops on the Committee on Catechesis have decided not to publish an official commentary, preferring that those engaged in catechetical ministry read and use the NDC itself. For those of us who have used SLF for more than two decades, the NDC will look familiar, but feel different. It is important to remember that SLF was the first document of its kind to attempt to guide catechesis for the United States. As such, it broke new ground at every turn. While the NDC doesn’t break new ground, it does synthesize the developments that have happened within the church and catechesis over the past twenty-five years and shows us how to implement these changes. Some people seem to think that the bishops didn’t consult as widely on the NDC as they did on SLF. This is a misconception. Two national consultations for the NDC were held, just as was done with SLF. Bishops were encouraged to consult widely with those engaged in catechesis on the outline and first draft of the document. This opportunity was offered also to the faculty of Catholic colleges and universities, and national membership organizations. The bishops themselves were then consulted directly on the next two drafts of the document, and each time bishops were encouraged to discuss the document with their diocesan catechetical leaders. The only consultation that took place on SLF that didn’t take place on the NDC was the initial SLF consultation that was used to develop the outline. This consultation was not replicated because the outline for the NDC is based upon the outlines of SLF and the GDC.


Footnotes Compare the number of footnotes presented in the documents: SLF has 328, the NDC over 870. More than 470 of the NDC’s footnotes come from documents developed (either by the Vatican or the USCCB) since 1977. (One of the complaints about early drafts of the NDC was that the text had too many quotations. The bishops heard this concern and removed most quotations from the text.) Citations SLF cites 29 documents, plus Scripture. NDC cites 113 documents, plus Scripture. The documents most frequently cited in SLF are: General Catechetical Directory (GCD, 59 times) Documents of Vatican II (over 60 times collectively). The most frequently cited documents in the NDC are:

The National Profile of Catechetical Ministry is an annual diocesan data-gathering process, offered through the Internet. This unique tool saves mailing, printing, and collection costs by compiling all data online. Dioceses and participating parishes can instantly view vital data about catechetical ministry from individual parishes, the entire diocese, or the nation. Go to our website and click on the National Profile logo for more information and to sign up online.

6 times

Our Goal: To provide dioceses with the most efficient and cost-effective way possible to gather vital information on their parishes’ catechetical programs.

What is the National Profile?


The NDC covers most of the themes presented in SLF, but addresses them from the perspective of evangelization and in greater depth.

117 times 95 times 78 times 64 times 31 times 21 times 20 times 19 times 19 times 17 times 14 times 14 times 13 times 12 times 12 times 8 times 8 times 7 times

National Profile of Catechetical Ministry


Scripture General Directory for Catechesis Catechesi Tradendae Catechism of the Catholic Church Sharing the Light of Faith Evangelii Nuntiandi Code of Canon Law CIC Gaudium et Spes GCD Dei Verbum Ecclesia in America Sacrosanctum Consilium Redemptoris Missio Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us Interpretation of the Bible in the Church Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities Directory for Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism Christus Dominus continued on page 18

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the ‘Heart’ Level Msgr. Pat Bishop doesn’t worry about “content” so much as whether people care about the content “Maybe it is time to revaluate what we have always heard: ‘Experience precedes learning,’” a catechetical leader recently observed. A curriculum for a teacher certification program was then rolled out—one that did not contain one single methodology course. I think there are some in the church today who fear we are losing our ‘deposit of faith’ and believe that there is a need for more solid content. I was born, raised, and have served my entire priesthood in the beautiful state of Georgia—smack dab in the middle of the “Bible Belt.” Looking at my own experiences growing up and the large amount of time I have spent in youth ministry, I certainly agree that content is critical. Here in Georgia our youngsters and adults are often challenged about their faith and need to be able to intelligently represent that faith to others. Religious education programs that pop popcorn in preparation for Confirmation, or those that structure their content around whatever the kids want to discuss, do not serve our youngsters well. But in my thirty years as priest and pastor, I have not found “content” to be the problem. Caring about the content is the problem. When I talk to junior high students who have not been to confession since they made their first one, I find that they know what the church recommends about the frequency of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation; it just doesn’t seem to matter to them. When I talk to high school students about skipping Mass, I see that they know what the church teaches about the real presence of Christ in the sacrament and their responsibility to be at the celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday. It just doesn’t seem to matter. When I talk to kids in destructive and dangerous relationships, they know the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, it just doesn’t really seem to matter. When I talk to kids about drug use, cheating, cruelty to others, family responsibilities, I find they know the teachings of Christ and the church. It just doesn’t matter. They know the Catholic Church was established by Christ and is his presence in the world today. It just doesn’t seem to matter to many. Not really. Not at a “heart” level. To many others, I am thankful, it does matter. In my experience as pastor, the successful religious education programs are ones that fully appreciate three pillars of total Christian education: content, community, and service. These are programs that creatively and conscientiously deal equally with scope and sequence, prayer, parties and service.

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We forget that our local parish is experienced by our youngsters primarily in the religious education setting. Those gatherings are the small-group experiences of church for our young. If the setting is strongly “schoolmodeled,” then the experience of church is going to be an experience of a place they have to go to learn—and from which they will eventually graduate and be free. If it is a setting where they develop close personal relationships with the other youngsters and the teacher/mentors; a place where they have the opportunity to experience the inner joy and peace of reaching out to help others; a place where they are free to be themselves, ask any question, and enjoy interacting; if it is a place where they can dance, cut up, socialize—as well as reflect, study, and learn; then, maybe, it becomes a community that is important to them and feeds them. It might very well become a community they want to be a part of for the rest of their lives.



We have over 800 students attending our ChrisTeen (grades 7–12) religious education program each week. That number in itself would cause any pastor to boast, but I have seen our youngsters do amazing things. ■

Each summer, the list closes out to participate in two mission trips we offer to help those living in rural areas and in need. The teens return year after year to again experience the satisfaction of helping others and to rekindle friendships and spirit with other Catholic youth working at those sites. They come back with fresh enthusiasm that inspires our adult community.

At Christmas, the kids give up precious holiday free time to deliver gifts to nursing homes and shut-ins. They staff shelters and food lines at Christmas and during the “ordinary” times of the year. They gathered medical supplies for Haiti and bought a new furnace and washing machines for a local shelter where they often prepare food for the guests.

Retreats fill up here as fast as ski trips—or faster. Having had a deeply personal experience with Christ and their community on retreat, they come back to us determined to reach out to other teens and pull them into the “ChrisTeen” community here at our parish.

I have watched as they thought through current moral and political issues and had lively debates with older mentors. I have watched them carefully considering the church’s teachings and prayerfully trying to understand while rightfully maintaining their right to form their own opinions.

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With a strong sense of peer ministry, I have seen them as they reach out to other kids who find themselves in trouble—maturely challenging them, accepting them, and steering them toward help.

I never cease to be amazed at the number of even “cool” kids who proudly wear t-shirts to very secular schools identifying themselves as members of a faith community that is Christian and Roman Catholic.

Because of questions often raised in history classes about their church, I find them anxious to know the facts so that they can respond in their own words and with their own opinions to those who might misunderstand.

In a recent effort to build a rectory and activities building here at the parish, the kids jumped on board—challenging the adults and raising money themselves. When the drive was not initially successful, there were tears and then a second wind of determination to get things going again.

I have seen them grow in their appreciation and love for the Mass. They scramble to take part in the readings, to do the prayers of the faithful, to serve the hosts and cups, to take up the collections, and to join in the music ministry. They have their own liturgy committee and seem most interested in those opportunities to teach more about the meaning and the ritual of the Mass. They sit together— and sometimes giggle and carry on—but the purpose of a small-group church experience is to bring that intimacy to the larger Eucharistic community. And they do that. I am often tempted to

serve coffee and donuts during their very extended “greeting of peace”, but am as proud as I can be that, after their mushy greetings among themselves, they move out to the larger, older community with whom, at least at that moment, they feel much in common. ■

When they leave us and go off to college or work, I am proud that when I or one of their former catechists meets them at a restaurant, mall, sporting event, or “just around”, we get a warm welcome and a sense that family members are back together.



I have never seen a perfect religious education program. We have a lot of holes in ours. We certainly do not reach all our teens. Kids still get continued on page 24

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Volume 16, Number 2


Between Vision and Reality:

a Slow Dance Fr. Tom Ivory chronicles the steps toward adult focus in catechesis


hen I served as an archdiocesan director of religious education, I occasionally reminded the archbishop that he was the chief catechist of the archdiocese and that our staff was there to assist him. Now the shoe is on the other foot. I am a pastor, the catechetical leader of our parish, and I need to remind myself that this responsibility is shared by a very competent parish staff whose collaboration is essential for effective catechesis within and beyond our parish community. When I was involved in diocesan ministry, I had the opportunity to travel and offer workshops around the United States. In retrospect, I see that it would have helped the participants if I had spent some time as a pastor before speaking about the ideal parish catechetical ministry. I offer a belated apology for not appreciating the challenge and complexity of pastoring. I have grown to appreciate that it is good to have a vision and high ideals, but also valuable to realize that it takes time and patience to pursue them.

“I have grown to appreciate that it is good to have a vision and high ideals, but also valuable to realize that it takes time and patience to pursue them.�




An example of pursuing the ideal: I have said that a parish (or diocesan) budget is a theological statement about pastoral priorities. Now, for years, we have had official statements and research studies that proclaim the priority and value of adult catechesis, but making that paradigm shift did not happen overnight. On the diocesan level, twenty-five years ago, Msgr. Tom Kleissler and I collaborated with our diocesan staff members and many talented volunteers to produce a parish renewal program designed specifically for adults. RENEW was first implemented by 200 of our parishes in the Newark Archdiocese and has become an international phenomenon. RENEW was a major effort to allocate our resources in the service of adult faith formation. And an example of the concrete reality: When I became a pastor, I observed that a relatively small budget was allocated to adult catechetical formation. At the local parish level we began to budget more financial resources for the continuing education of our staff members and volunteers.

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Following up on RENEW, we have tried to promote the development of small Christian communities. Training sessions for leaders are periodically held, and a pastoral staff member works with a core community and keeps abreast of the current resources. There has been some progress, and new strategies are regularly being developed to expand and deepen the experience of small Christian communities. Our most recent plans call for a pastoral approach by geographical areas to our parishioners living in 138 zip codes. This effort, however, serves as a good example of how much time and patience it takes to transform a parish into “a community of communities”, with emphasis on adult faith formation. After my six years as pastor, we currently have 80 small Christian communities in our parish of 4,600 families.



When I arrived in Presentation Parish over six years ago, the pastoral leadership asked me to share a vision for the parish. Having conducted a number of workshops on the adult catechumenate, and having written a book on the catechumenal model, Conversion and Community, (Paulist Press, 1987) for the National Conference of Diocesan Directors (NCDD), I found it comparatively easy to suggest a vision that would link the parish’s fifty ministries in some coherent, energizing way. The theory was acceptable, but then we had to put it into practice.

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We began by clustering our different ministries under five major ministries, based on the model of the adult catechumenate; Evangelization, Catechesis, Spiritual Renewal, Liturgy and Ministerial Development (Mystagogia). Pastoral staff members were asked to take responsibility for each of the five major areas, and the catechumenal model was our source of inspiration for collaboration among the various ministries. Just as an inquirer benefited from the multidimensional approach of the adult catechumenate, so we hoped our parishioners would receive the support they needed to mature in Christ at various stages on their faith journey. As the years have gone by, our pastoral planning has improved and we have offered more opportunities for parishioners to become actively involved in their faith formation.

mer Bible Camp for children, for grades K through 3. Junior high youngsters have special learning sessions, and some have branched into junior high Bible study.

In our parish, the adult catechumenate takes pride of place. There are weekly sessions and the Word is broken open in conjunction with our Sunday liturgies. The catechumenal team and sponsors have an active role, and our parishioners are very supportive in our celebration of the rites. The presence of the catechumens and the candidates for full communion energizes the faith commitment of the parish community. Connections are made with the various ministries, especially those involved in outreach. During the mystagogical period, invitations are extended to join a small Christian community.

We currently have an excellent ministry of marriage preparation, offered on a weekend several times annually. The need to extend this ministry after marriage has resulted in the recruitment and training of “mentor couples” who will meet with the newly-married periodically during the first few years of their marriage. In this way we intend to support the couples in their evolving experience of the sacrament of marriage.



This year we began a monthly adult catechetical program as a sequel to our sponsorship of the three-year Archdiocesan ministerial formation program, Christian Foundations for Ministry. Our parish program is offered in the morning and evening of the same day, and attracts a broad spectrum of participants. Catholicism 101 is serving our catechists, our parents in our sacramental programs and family-centered catechetical programs, as well as adults concerned about updating their knowledge of our faith. Learning As a Family began as a pilot project two years ago, and currently there are eighty families participating in the program. We have attempted to highlight the role of parents as the primary religious educators of their children. This family-centered program is an alternative to the classroom-based religious education model. Part of the process calls for periodic gatherings of the families for a special event or celebration. Catechetical materials include an informative doctrinal essay for the parents, a format for a small Christian community meeting, and a family-friendly session, which benefits children of various ages. While most parents still prefer the classroom approach to religious education, our parish sacramental programs are integrated with family learning opportunities and they are well received. Until we can fully implement family-centered catechesis we continue to offer a summer program, SonRise, for grades 2 through 8, and our SumC AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R






Youth ministry offers a variety of retreats and Sunday evening sessions, which have components for faith formation. Our confirmation program is aligned within our youth ministry, and service projects are an integral part of the process. Young adults have their own annual retreat and volunteer to assist in the teenage retreats. Those in their 20s and 30s gather throughout the year to dialogue with guest speakers at Theology on Tap evenings.

In one of our planning sessions last year, our pastoral team sought to identify groups of parishioners who were not being adequately served by our current programs. This discussion resulted in a twoday workshop for those in their “wisdom years” (a designation we find preferable to “senior citizens”). There was also a proposal to offer a workshop for our single parents. By looking at the broad spectrum of ages and interests, we hope to continue offering catechetical and pastoral support to those who might otherwise be overlooked.



During the past year our parish sponsored special evenings to discuss current events. For example, we offered an evening on the novel, The DaVinci Code, another on the movie, The Passion of Christ, and a seminar on the political scene, “Catholics, Conscience and the Eucharist”. Those were teachable moments, and a good number of our adult parishioners took advantage of them. Our Mardi Gras celebration with catechetical elements for families is followed by a soup supper on Ash Wednesday with a collection for our parish mission in Haiti. Our peace and justice ministry offers other opportunities for parishioners to extend the Gospel message beyond our parish borders. Our parish mission traditionally takes place during Lent, and our guest speaker interacts with the participants, especially in the morning sessions. The topic of the previous evening is unpacked continued on page 22


Trying Out

New Wineskins Fr. Khanh Ho observes with a sharp eye and listens for his small parish’s needs


rowing up in Vietnam, in a small village where everything was centered around the local parish church, I truly received a traditional Catholic religious education. As a young boy, I went to our parochial school where I was taught by many religious sisters. When I went back to visit Vietnam in 1992, two years after my ordination, I met some of them and we had a good time laughing as we recalled some old memories. The catechetical lessons that I received from them truly shaped me into a Catholic and formed a solid foundation for my Christian life. I remember that as a young boy I always went to daily Mass, where I received more catechetical instruction from the local pastor. I always revered him because I truly thought that he was... God!

I am now pastor to a small American/Mexican parish in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas. It did not take me too long to realize that the American parish is very different from my Vietnamese parish back home—and the American parish today is very different from the parish of yesterday. Contemporary American parishioners, due to their work schedule, cannot attend daily Mass like many Catholics used to do. Sunday has certainly become the only time the American pastor encounters most of his parishioners. The opportunity to provide any catechetical instruction in church is quite limited. What can a parish do to efficiently provide more catechesis to its members? This is obviously a burning issue for many priests. An efficient catechetical program must be thoroughly planned, creative, flexible, and responsive to the needs of each parish community. With the increasing shortage of priests and religious, many lay catechists are needed and they need extensive training before they can teach in a parish religious education program. In Beaumont, we are fortunate to have Dr. Lorraine S. DeLuca, a wonderful instructor and a visionary woman, as director of the diocesan Office of Lifelong Catholic Formation/Education. She instituted the Catholic Education and Ministry Institute (CEMI) program that continually provides many courses required for catechists.



As a pastor, I am very concerned about the religious formation of adults. The way I see it, many parishioners stop pursuing further religious education after they finish confirmation. As they go further in their education, the risk see-

continued on page 23

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Volume 16, Number 2


Looking at the Parish—

Looking in the Mirror Fr. Terry Odien sees the pastor’s reflection in the parish— and it looks best when the people are taking ownership. In recent years at some national gatherings, I hear people talk about how the young families have left the church and all you see these days are “graying heads.” When I come back to the parish where I have been pastor for the past eight years, I think to myself, “That is not my experience.” Located in a well-established neighborhood, our suburban parish includes generations of families among the 1,175 families registered. Sundays here are alive and well with a mixture of young and old, and middle-aged folks as well. The parish has a strong impact on the faith life of the people and in fact, provides many opportunities for growth in faith. We are reminded of this in the General Directory for Catechesis: “The parish is, without doubt, the most important locus in which the Christian community is formed and expressed (No. 257).”



The quality of our Sunday worship plays a huge role in catechizing the people that are gathered each week. Lex orandi, lex credendi...How we worship and pray as a Christian community says a great deal about our faith. What do people experience when the community gathers? Are we a welcoming community? Are we a singing community? What does our parish teach people by involving itself in works of social justice? What about works of charity? As much as I don’t always want to admit it, the pastor’s leadership in the parish truly sets the tone (at least that’s what a lot of people tell me). The manner in which we preside at liturgy speaks volumes to people. Consider the quality of our preaching: Do our homilies nurture people’s faith? Do we challenge people to growth? Do we invite people to look at their lives and help them to make the connection between faith and life? Do we encourage people to reflect critically on their lives and on the implication of the Gospel for their everyday life?

As much as I don’t always want to admit it, the pastor’s leadership in the parish truly sets the tone.

Some years back I remember teaching an undergraduate course on contemporary catechetics. One of the assignments I gave the students was to bring in their parish bulletins. What did these bulletins teach us about the life of the parish? Some parishes sounded more like travel agencies, with trips everywhere but no mention of any works of justice or charity. What do people see when they come to church? Looking in the mirror can be painful at times but, oh, so necessary!

13 C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R



One of the strengths of our parish is the sacramental life. A number of years ago we decided to have our first Communion celebrations at the regularly scheduled Sunday Eucharist celebrations. At first there was a fair amount of resistance. Some were nostalgic and liked seeing all the first communicants dressed in white, processing in all together, and receiving together as a “class”. However, we forged ahead and held onto our belief that the celebration of first Communion belongs at the Sunday assembly when the church is gathered, and not at some privately scheduled service.

Our experience with baptism preparation has been very similar. A lay team member along with staff members gives baptismal catechetical sessions for parents or prospective parents. We look at a various topics related to the birth of the child—their entrance not only into the Christian community, but their entrance to the family, and the impact of this event on a family. We also discuss the rite and the history of the sacrament of baptism.

Now people seem to love the experience. The first communicants sit together with their families. The presider invites the parents to present their child for the reception of the Eucharist as they presented their child for baptism. We intentionally help people see the direct link between the two sacraments as part of the initiation process. At the conclusion of the liturgy the children (eight maximum at each Mass) process out with the presider and ministers and stand in the vestibule of the church. The congregation congratulates the children and wishes them well. I know many parishes do this, and probably do it better than we do, but I have seen such positive results. The experience builds community and the blending of generations strengthens the community.

Preparing and working with couples to give these presentations has been very enriching and their impact on the new parents is quite noticeable. Relationships have formed that have gone beyond the two-session classes. In one instance, we had moms decide to continue to meet as a sharing and support group. We invite the new parents to evaluate the experience and that has helped us to continue to shape the process. Since we began the baptism preparation sessions for parents, more parents have chosen to have their children baptized at the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist when the community is gathered. These baptisms confirm my belief in the power of the liturgy to catechize when celebrated well. You can see it on the faces of the congregants. The children stand on tiptoe to watch us welcome our newest member. People are smiling, congratulating, supporting, and encouraging these new parents. We see a high percentage of these couples returning to Sunday liturgy with their newborn week after week. I would like to think that a lot of this is due to the fact that we have reached out to them at this important moment in their lives and we have done so not by just popping a baptism video into a VCR.

ANOINTING Another significant sacramental event was the day our parish celebrated a communal anointing of the sick. We invited medical personnel from the parish to be there and the care and compassion that was evident in the assembly that day was powerful. People who normally are not able to attend Sunday Mass came to that liturgy accompanied by family members. It was the first time many of them had been to church in a very long time and tears welled up in people’s eyes as the sick were being ministered to. Expressions of joy and contentment were evident on the faces of those who were ill. Many commented about “how good it was to be there.” It was so good to have them in the church. I believe that this in fact builds community. We celebrate who we say that we are as a Christian community by taking care of the sick among us. This caring is evident each Sunday when our Eucharistic ministers take Communion from the Sunday Mass to the sick and homebound. We pray a special blessing over them as they depart from the Sunday assembly. The practice acts as a powerful witness to the Sunday assembly that people in the community are ministering to the sick and homebound and that we keep them in our prayers each week. continued on page 24

14 March 2005


Volume 16, Number 2


Catechesis in the African American Community | Volume 16, March 05

CATECHETICAL UPDATE A publication of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership

LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN! Most Catholics are most Catholic when they attend Sunday Mass. The liturgy is the primary place to plug into the spirituality and traditions of the church. For that reason, Father J-Glenn Murray, S.J., has a big job to do. As director of the Office of Pastoral Liturgy for the Diocese of Cleveland, Murray’s challenge is to see that Mass is celebrated properly and relevant to the congregation. As an African American, Murray’s personal experience and heritage is distinct from the majority of American Catholics. “I’m intensely Roman Catholic,” Murray says. “I also totally love being black.” Murray served as principal writer of Plenty Good Room: The Spirit and Truth of African American Catholic Worship, a 1990 document from the U.S. bishops’ conference. A Jesuit for more than 30 years, Murray is a frequent speaker on liturgical and cultural topics.

This interview with J-Glenn Murray, S.J. was conducted by the editors of U.S. Catholic in 2002.

WHEN HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED GREAT LITURGY, AND WHAT MADE IT GREAT? One thing that has always made great liturgy is when people intentionally come together to give thanks and praise to God. I have had great experiences in the African American community because, by and large, in African American parishes people want to be there. People actually respond with some enthusiasm and passion. Also, inevitably in black parishes someone says “Hello, who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?” When I first came to Cleveland, I went to a church that was considered one of the best liturgically. It was a completely white church, and no one spoke to me. I told people this later and they said, “Gosh, how racist.” Actually, it had nothing to do with racism, it had everything to do with being stereotypically Roman Catholic. But in the African American community—and I know this is painting with broad strokes—someone always says hello. That makes me immediately more disposed to worshiping.

WHERE HAVE YOU FOUND GOOD AFRICAN AMERICAN WORSHIP IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? After I entered the Jesuits, I got involved with the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association. We would join black priests and black religious women for conferences and we’d have Masses where everyone wore beautiful vestments and there was incense and candles, and you’d have people stepping! At the Lamb of God, we sang Agnus Dei. But we’d also sing “This Little Light of Mine.” It respected the form of the liturgy and also allowed us to bring who we were. I felt like I was in heaven. Parishwise, St. Sabina’s in Chicago, St. Bridget’s in Los Angeles, and St. Augustine’s in Washington, D.C. are notable places. But no one place has perfectly blended the genius of African American spirituality with the genius of

© 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership



the Roman rite. Several places have phenomenal music that’s engaging, transfixing, transformative. Often I’ve been transformed at those religious experiences, but I’m not always sure it’s Roman liturgy. I’ve also been in African American churches where it’s really good Roman liturgy, but it almost seemed bloodless. So we’re all on the way.

DID YOU GROW UP CATHOLIC? No. My father was a die-hard atheist and my mother was nominally Baptist. But because my father’s family was AME—African Methodist Episcopal—my mom, sister, and I would occasionally go to services with them. As a little child I found the services unsettling—they were so highly emotive! My parents sent me to Catholic school because it was considered the way out of the projects. I remember the first time I went to Mass— I thought, “This works.” It was quiet, it was safe, and it was at a distance. Roman Catholic liturgy was an experience of a transcendent God, while the AME experience was of an immanent God who was with you in the struggle. I just didn’t need God to be that intimate when I was 6. When I was 10 I told my parents I wanted to be a Catholic. My AME-Baptist mother said, “You’re already a Christian.” My atheist father thought it was a phase—”Why not, I’m sure you’ll grow out of it.” So I became Catholic. But in 1966, when the church started going through major changes in Philadelphia, I loathed it. One Jesuit at my high school knew a great deal about liturgy and explained to me why these changes were happening. It was about participating in the paschal mystery, about entering into the dying and rising of Christ. He said by entering into it, your life could not be the same. And he was right.

WHAT DOES A LITURGIST ACTUALLY DO? My task is to be the idealist. When Moses was leading the people of God out of the desert, these scouts ran ahead and came back saying, “I’ve seen the promised land and this is what is looks like!” It’s the same in the church. As a liturgist, I think of myself as one of those scouts. I’ve seen the promised land, the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy. My task is to keep saying, “Come on! Let’s go! Here’s the vision.” Although I really don’t think of myself this way, part of my job also is to be prophetic, to remind people of who they were.





It drives me crazy when someone says to me, “Oh, you must have been Baptist.” No! I’m black! There’s this religious experience that U2

transcends all denominations. And a part of being a black American is music. I would almost rank it in the top one. So in an attempt to wed African American religious experience with Roman Catholic rite, we go right to music! I do get concerned when it seems music is imposed on the rite. Instead of saying, “How can we make the rite come alive musically?” it’s often, “We’ve got this great piece of music; when can we use it?” For me, that’s the wrong starting point. We are coming to do this action—Mass—that has its own rhythm, integrity, meaning, and power. We need to take the genius of who we are—our music, our style of praying, all of that—and make this rite come alive.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHETHER CERTAIN MUSIC IS APPROPRIATE? Someone may instinctively know which music to use. But my question is: Do you know what the rite is asking for? Do you know what the song is about? Of course, the black community, since we were forced on these shores, has taken what other people do, adapted it, and given it new meaning.




Vatican II came along and said that no one culture is better than any other; they’ve all got strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, Christ, the gospel, and liturgy can all be at home in any culture. For instance, before Pope John Paul II went to Korea, he spent two weeks learning how to say Mass in Korean. They told him, “It’s too hard, so say the Mass in Latin.” And he said, no, the people speak Korean! Inculturation, as interpreted by the Second Vatican Council, means that a dialogue is going on between each culture and the gospel. In that dialogue, a culture can be transformed in the light of the gospel. Light can burn out what is weak or superstitious in a culture, but light can also show what is wonderful and good. And what is good and wonderful can benefit the whole church. Before that clarification, people around the world were thinking that inculturation meant that whatever we do in our culture is wonderful and can find a place in the church. The church said no, not everything. For example, in the black community we might want to put 300 choir members and a giant Steinway concert grand piano next to the altar. Is that a good thing? Just because we do it doesn’t mean that it’s good!



Not necessarily. I’ve seen where it helps us. When it does, I’m all for it! But as a liturgist I have to ask, where’s our focus? Is it on this choir and that Steinway, or on what we do at this altar?

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Here’s a fundamental problem. Do we come to get something, or do we come to do something? Literature on the black religious experience says people went into the fields, wherever they could, to praise and thank God. They went to do something, and in the doing they came away changed. My fear is that we don’t go to do, we go to get. “When I get that good music and that good preaching, I can make it for another week.” That’s not true to our African roots, and it’s the opposite of what Roman liturgy’s doing.

DOES GOD CARE WHY WE COME, AS LONG AS WE COME? SHOULD WE PUT THAT MUCH EMPHASIS ON THE WHY? Yes. Because God sent Jesus. And when you look at Jesus’ life, it’s marked by continual praising and thanking God. It seems to me that’s what God wants us to do. When we gather on Sunday, it’s always to praise and thank God. I’m not sure we remember that. Here’s a true story. I was walking around one day trying to get my energy up for a talk I was about to give, and a black lady was standing at a bus stop. I said, “Good morning, how are you?” And she said, “Honey, let me tell you.” And inside I was saying, “Oh please don’t. You’re just supposed to say fine.” But I asked, “So how are you?” And she said, “Honey, I’m blessed.” Then she said, “You know why I’m blessed? God woke me up this morning and put me in my right mind. God smiled on me.” And then she burst into song: “What a mighty God we serve/What a mighty God we serve/Angels bow before him/Heaven and earth adore him/What a mighty God we serve.” I said Amen, and she said, “Oh no, honey. Join me!” And so the two of us stood there singing, praising God, thanking God. What that elderly black woman knew is the heart of being black, the heart of being a Christian—an attitude of gratitude. She did not start with, “I need this, I want that;” she started by saying, “I’m blessed!” She understood what God was doing for her. When we gather on Sunday, it’s always to praise and thank God. I’m not sure we remember that. That doesn’t mean that later we can’t say, “Ooh honey, we need you.” That’s legit.




African Americans—those who weren’t raised Catholic—know what full, conscious, active participation means. Most African Americans

© 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership

raised Catholic do what Catholics do: “We’re not supposed to engage; we’re supposed to watch.” African Americans think bodies are good! You can use your body to give praise to God, and that is something sorely needed in Roman liturgy. But we’re not just as we used to be. I love that we call ourselves African Americans. Unfortunately, it seems we’ve become far more American than African. We’re an extremely powerful cultural force and I’m not sure we’re very reflective about that.

HOW ARE AFRICAN AMERICANS MORE AMERICAN THAN AFRICAN? Certainly there’s a greater stress on the individual, on individual rights. When I was a kid, we talked about “our” rights. Now it’s I, I, me, me. That’s American individualism gone amok. A major concern of mine is African Americans who pick their churches and explain by saying, “I go to this church because it feeds me.” There’s two things going on: I consume, and it’s about me. What about God? That is not who we are. It is a betrayal of who we are.




Yes, trust me. I’ve gone places and thought, “What are you doing? You’re hindering our encountering the living God!” Those who



minister liturgically are there to help us encounter the living God. And if they’ve not prepared their homily or if they have no passion, we have to work twice as hard. We shouldn’t have to do that. As the liturgical minister, you should be pulling us into the experience of the living God.


I hate saying this, but sometimes I’m astounded anyone goes to Mass. Our diocese has, I think, 243 parishes. As head of the liturgy office, I want to be able in seven years to say there are 10 places in this diocese doing liturgy very well.




Hey, I can only do what I can. I’ve tried to do things that benefit all the parishes, but it doesn’t work. For liturgy to really change, one needs to work very closely with a parish. If I want 10 places, I need to work with 10 places.



Priests who are not converted to full, conscious, active participation. Some believe you just do it and it works, and it doesn’t matter if you’re engaged or not. And theologically that’s correct; God is going to save us regardless. But it’d be really helpful if you communicated that! There’s a great line in the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution of Sacred Liturgy: “The pastors of souls are to be zealous for the liturgy and patient with their people.” I think we’ve had extremely patient priests for 37 years, but very few are zealous. I love the Roman rite. I’m zealous for it, and I know that makes a difference. When my nephew Justin was 8, he said, “Wow, I didn’t understand anything you were saying or doing but I was really into it.” What he did understand was that this group of people was doing something that was a matter of life and death for them. We priests have the primary responsibility for making liturgy what it’s meant to be.





African American youth have the same difficulty as other American youth have, and that is they’ve grown up being entertained. And we’re not good at entertaining. So young people now go to the mega-churches where they’re being wonderfully entertained. Here’s my difficulty: I can’t be true to myself or the Roman rite and say, now we’re going to entertain. I can’t do it; I won’t do it.

SO HOW DO YOU ENGAGE PEOPLE WITHOUT ENTERTAINING THEM? I’ve been asked to preside and preach at high schools, and I’ll only do it if I can come there first and talk about liturgy—what liturgy’s about and what’s expected of them—that if you throw yourself into it, it can be very moving. I find it makes a difference. I want to engage them. But I also want to challenge them. This isn’t entertainment.

WHAT MAKES BLACK PREACHING SO UNIQUE? Black preaching always starts with the experience of the people, then asks if there’s a word from the Lord that speaks to the situation, and then names God’s grace in the midst of it. It’s not an easy form of preaching. Though it can be taught, it is better caught by listening. The black church never forgot that preaching is really about stories. That’s what Jesus did—he told concrete stories. We are not afraid in the black community to talk about anything. You can tell God anything and everything. Because God cares about us and our lives. I don’t find anything in the Roman rite that goes against that part of the black religious experience. My fear is that we Catholics don’t know what the Roman rite is all about, so we miss how welcoming it is to us and to our experience. © 2002 U.S. Catholic. Reproduced by permission from the August 2002 issue of U.S. Catholic. Subscriptions: $22/year from 205 West Monroe, Chicago, IL 60606. Call 1-800-328-6515 for subscription information or visit

You Can Purchase Copies of Catechetical Update As in the past you can order additional copies of Catechetical Update. Many of our membership find it a valuable resource for use in their ministry. To order call the NCCL office (202-636-3826) or email Sr. Kathy Kandefer, BVM at Catechetical Update reprint costs: 1–49 copies $1.29 each, 50 or more $0.79 each (plus shipping).


Catechesis in the African American Community | Volume 16, March 05




t was the fall of 1963 when I first heard the word vernacular. My teachers, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, introduced me to the proceedings of Vatican II. Even with an eighth grade mind and world-view, I surmised that the Vatican II event was of monumental significance to the church and to the world. Mother Mary Consolata Gibson, OSP, wanted us to be well informed and so new words were introduced and blended into our vocabulary. Vernacular was one word that intrigued me; throughout the years, the phrase “to teach in the vernacular” has positively haunted me.

I have constantly watched for its usage and implications all around me; and to say the least, its impact on Catholic worship and teachings has been significant. I heard English replace Latin during Mass. I saw catechetical resources pictorially move slowly towards a more inclusive presentation of the church. Embracing the vernacular is a powerful process and its implications are transformational. In 1982, a seminal Black Catholic Catechetical Symposium was held in Santa Cruz, California. The symposium’s proceedings resulted in a groundbreaking document entitled Tell It Like It Is: A Black Catholic Perspective on Christian Education. Both the symposium and Tell It Like It Is were sponsored by the National Black Sisters’ Conference with Dr. Eva Marie Lumas, SSS, as project coordinator. Why discuss a publication more than twenty years old? It’s simple: The insights of this collection of Black Catholic theologians, scholars, educators and catechetical leaders provided a paradigm shift for years to come, structuring the catechetical process in a culturally sensitive manner. These insights are still useful and have power to re-shape us.

“...Jesus Christ reigns in the here-and-now as well as in the future He brings upon us.” © 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership

Here I would like to raise up the historical and ground-breaking efforts toward an Afrocentric catechetical process presented by African American catechetical pioneers through this symposium and its proceedings:



It is the first collective endeavor on the part of a national representation of the Black Catholic community to: ■

create a common vision of catechesis in Black communities. develop a holistic concept of catechesis that incorporates the areas of liturgy, music, theology, spirituality, scripture, education, literature, psychology, sociology, culture, evangelization, history and pastoral ministry from a Black perspective establish a national network of catechists in Black communities identify resource materials that are appropriate for use in Black communities Tell It Like It Is: A Black Catholic Perspective on Christian Education. Edited by Eva Marie Lumas. SSS. Oakland, CA: National Black Catholic Sisters’ Conference, 1982.

THE NON-NEGOTIABLES OF BLACK CATECHESIS Dr. Toinette Eugene provided a framework for the ministry of the Word through a presentation on the nature and goals of Black catechesis: “The Story of God who acts in history on behalf of chosen ones—the poor, the oppressed, those in most need—is our story of salvation and liberation. The liberating and redemptive mission and person of Jesus Christ is our first fundamental understanding of catechesis....A Black perspective (in catechesis) is to speak authentically to the life experience and the faith of Black Catholic people....A world view and vision is the recognition by Black people that ‘we are some-bodies’—free, Black, beautiful and proud because we belong above all to God.”

We are called to value and nurture that image of the cosmic Christ that is enfleshed in Black peoples of faith. In keeping with the liberating motif of catechesis in the Black community, to affirm Blackness becomes a goal. Eugene continued, “...implicit in any instructional effort is the objective of change with the expectation of conversion, of metanoia, of becoming new selves. Catechesis as a ministry of the Word fulfills a normative function when it offers an understanding of the process of social change for justice and new humanity, and the necessary struggle, sacrifice, and conflict involved in such change.” Another aim of Black Catholic catechesis, he said, is “empowerment of the powerless through the process of evangelization.” He discussed the synthesis of the sacred with the secular for a meaningful and effective Black catechetical experience. Eugene explored U6

this synthesis: “Catechesis as a ministry of the Word for Black people must express a spirituality related to everyday concerns and realities, making more meaningful in the life of our institutions and in our more intimate living arrangements the conviction that Jesus Christ reigns in the here-and-now as well as in the future He brings upon us”. The research and insights of Dr. Toinette Eugene, who also spoke profoundly on “Black Theology,” re-shaped the catechetical process in Black Catholic communities. The process he described is commonly referred to as LACES, and from shortly after its conception it was often named as the non-negotiable of catechesis from an Afrocentric perspective.

PIONEERING VOICES Dr. Eva Lumas, SSS, brought her voice to the symposium with “Leaning On The Word” and later went on a nationwide instructional mission to share these insights: Effective catechesis in Black communities necessitates that catechists: ■

esteem their Black learners endeavor to bring Black learners to an actualization of their fullest potential as God’s Black creation develop techniques that compliment Black ways of perceiving and judgment use materials that enable Blacks to bring the gospel to bear on their social political, cultural, moral and spiritual realities.

She later produced, with many other African American catechetical leaders, Naming and Claiming (National Black Sisters Conference, 1989), a compendium of culturally appropriate resources. Rev. Giles Conwill, PhD, defined Black culture as “a way of knowing, of being, of celebrating, of envisioning the beautiful and of relating to others and to the world.” His paper, “A Unique People” discussed an understanding that “even as Christ is above culture, He is also within it. We are called to value and nurture that image of the cosmic Christ that is enfleshed in Black peoples of faith.” How can we teach of our experience of the cosmic Christ, he asked, without respecting that fact that religion and dimensions of the holy and sacred permeate all structures of meaning; and that culture is reproduced through structures of meaning. Dr. Guerin Montilus, in “A Believing People,” addressed the topic of “reciprocity of culture and faith.” He pointed out that only Black people themselves can authentically create a Black faith expression and encouraged Black Catholics to express their faith Blackly so that they can ‘feel at home’ in the church and so that the church can ‘feel at home’ with Blackness.” This dialogue between

Catechesis in the African American Community | Volume 16, March 05


“faith and culture” influences and colors the catechetical, liturgical and evangelization ministry extended for and by Black folks.

FRUITS OF THEIR LABOR The genius and dedication fostered by the Black Catholic Theological Symposium of 1978; The Institute of Black Catholic Studies founded in 1980 and Tell It Like It Is in 1982 jumpstarted and influenced initiatives within the church at that time and continues to foster the discussion and implementation of “teaching in the vernacular.” Among them:

Rev. Cyprian Davis, OSB, PhD, provided two history presentations: “Roots and Wings” and “Sojourn of a People.” Davis reported, “The legacy of Black Catholicism is as old as the apostle Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.” Additionally, he traced historically the expectations of Blacks for the church and the contributions of Blacks to the church. As a result, accurate historic presentations and studies of the saints, popes, and doctors (of color) of the church, and of their contributions, have been encouraged as an integral aspect of catechesis in the Black community and the larger church.

Dr. John A. Davis, in “Making A Way,” examined the socio-economic and political realities that have been endured by Black Americans and affected by their cultural strengths. He explicated the importance of cultural resilience for Black Americans and survival. Davis’s material encourages a holistic approach to teaching “in the vernacular.”

Most Rev. John H. Ricard, SSJ, in “The Nurturing of A People” presented an overview of “the developmental process toward greater self-love in facing the realities of growing up Black in a white American society,” as well as the psychological insights of Erickson and others. Liberation is not simply having more but becoming more. In an effort to better identify, interpret and appreciate the lived faith experience of Blacks, Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, PhD, provided definition to Black spirituality in “The Soul of The People.” Said Bowman, “Black Spirituality is the God-awareness, self-awareness and other awareness of Black people.” Packed with culturally sensitive concepts and techniques to assist the catechist who strives “to teach in the vernacular,” this is a must-read and has propelling implications for today. In “The Articulation of Soul,” Dr. Jamie Phelps, OP, addressed the need to present doctrine to social-cultural groups in a manner that enhances and interprets their historical and existential experience of God. Additionally, Phelps offered direction for relating the foundational doctrine of the church to the Black experience. The Afrocentric movement in catechesis gained great insight from this work.


© 2005 by National Conference for Catechetical Leadership



A landscape of creative possibilities for church curriculum and catechetical program planning sprung forth from the genius of Dr. Nathan W. Jones. In “Making It Plain” Jones states, “Catechesis that seeks to free the minds of real people must draw upon the primary ways Black people learn.” Some of the approaches include: ■

Rev. Fernand Cheri described the essential characteristics of authentic Black Catholic worship in his presentation, “A Celebration of Soul”: “Liturgy gives and celebrates the meaning of life through symbols and symbolic actions which summarize all that has brought us to the present moment while impelling us to go on—to further integrate our relationships with God, with our truest selves and other persons.” Undoubtedly the motivation “to teach and worship in the vernacular” was enhanced by this landmark treatise.

The National Black Catholic Symposium, with Most Rev. Moses Anderson as director, in 1985 The National Black Catholic Congress, re-energized in 1986 under the leadership of Most Rev. John H. Ricard, SSJ Rise Up and Re-Build, issued in 1992 by the National Black Catholic Congress The African American Catechetical Camp Meetin’, facilitated by Sr. Patricia Chappell, SND, in 1993, sponsored by the Department of Education-United States Catholic Conference Plenty Good Room, published by Liturgy Training Publications with Fr. J-Glenn Murray, SJ Rise N Shine: Catholic Education and The African American Community, published by the National Catholic Educational Association, Sr. Mary Alice Chineworth, OSP, editor The African American Catechetical Think Tanks (1999 and 2000) sponsored by the Secretariat of African American Catholics at the United States Catholic Conference Keep On Teaching, organized and published by African American catechists in the Naimah Ministry from the Archdiocese of Baltimore The newly formed Black Catholic Catechetical Network

the dominance of the oral and aural (speaking and listening) traditions the importance of family and interpersonal relationships the key role of the church as extended family the importance of active engagement in the world—a social justice thrust.

Jones’ presentation was in-depth, providing skill building techniques for the catechist “to teach in the vernacular.” In order to implement the above insights, Catechists must have a C AT E C H E T I C A L U P D A T E


formation design that lends itself to an inculturated experience. “Making It Work” by Dr. Addie Walker, SSND, stressed “the importance of catechist formation to the catechetical enterprise” and suggested “both a conceptual framework and a program syllabus for developing catechist formation in Black communities.... Catechists must be ‘rooted in the Gospel as the most accurate portrayal of who God is and what God wants’.... Catechists must also be able to know, feel and act on the Word of God.” Effective formation programs in Black communities must be: ■

Religious: Able to reveal to our catechist-learners who God is and what God expects of his human creation Educational: Able to develop the knowledge, skills and proficiencies of catechists as ministers Rooted in a Black Perspective: Founded on an accurate and positive understanding of Blackness

Additionally, Walker presented thirteen sessions for catechist formation so that catechists would be secure in their “teaching in the vernacular.”

Tell It Like It Is was a script placed in our heads and hearts. IN APPRECIATION Pioneer catechetical leaders who fully understood the transformational and necessary implementation of the vernacular from an Afrocentric perspective led a revolution in the catechetical arena. It forever changed the theater of catechesis within the African American community. Tell It Like It Is was a script placed in our heads and hearts for a people who were on mission to teach, celebrate and share their Blackness, in the vernacular, with the church. We admire those among us who have stood erect to shape a vernacular of catechetical possibilities that are authentically Black and doctrinally Catholic. Therese Wilson Favors is director of the Office of African American Catholic Ministries in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and chair of the Black Catholic Catechetical Network. She wrote Rise Up and ReBuild and edited God Bless Them Who Have Their Own and fourteen issues of “Keep On Teaching.”


FACING THE DEEP CUTTING TRUTH OF GRIEF AND LOSS Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1988. Tenth printing 1999. 184 pages, $10.95. Reviewed by Janet Schaeffler, OP


young boy arrived home much later than his mother was expecting him. Worried, she said, “Where have you been?”

“I’ve been helping my friend Johnny,” the son replied. “He fell off his bike. He wasn’t hurt too bad, but his bike broke.” The mother, who knew her son’s abilities very well, immediately said, “But you don’t know how to fix bicycles.” “Right,” he replied, “I don’t know how. I wasn’t helping him fix his bicycle. I was helping him cry.” In one of her classic books, Praying Our Goodbyes, Joyce Rupp, OSM, accompanies us all tenderly on the journey of life and helps us cry—and then find the meaning in our tears. Rupp, a Servite sister, is known to many today through her ministry in spiritual direction; her retreats and talks throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand; and her fourteen books. Her fifteenth, The Circle of Life: The Heart’s Journey through the Seasons, with Macrina Wiederker, comes out in March 2005. She is working on her sixteenth book, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life’s Lessons on the Camino, based on her trek across northern Spain. Praying our Goodbyes attests to the fact that she has been a significant companion for many on the journey of grief—which is, of course, an integral part of the spiritual journey. This is a book about “the experiences of leaving behind and moving on, the stories of union and separation that are written in all our hearts.” It is about “the spirituality of change.” In a realistic way, Rupp puts into words the emotions that people experience when confronting loss and suffering, when asking all the questions that inevitably come. Rupp often goes to Scripture: “What does the life and message of Jesus tell us about the goodbyes in our lives?” she asks. “Jesus was not spared the ache and struggle of letting go. He knew the price of goodbyes. They had been with him all his life because he was so fully human, so much like all of us who travel the hello-goodbye-hello pattern of the human journey.” How many times do we wish the Gospels told us more about Jesus? In chapter three, Rupp helps us to imagine more deeply the losses not expounded on in Scripture that Jesus must have experienced. This gives us a fuller picture of the human Jesus and the message he teaches us about loss, hope, and resurrection.











Why would this book be of interest to catechetical leaders since it is not a book specifically about catechetics? Before we are catechetical leaders, we are persons on this common faith journey, we are ministers, we are wounded healers. We need to tenderly attend to our faith journey. And of course the myriad people, with whom and to whom we minister, experience life’s goodbyes. The insights here will continually remind us of the universal questions, longings and experiences of the human family. The discussion questions and prayers, especially are an invaluable resource as we continue to minister with faith-sharing groups of all kinds who are faithfully struggling with life’s questions amid the times of loss and change. Each chapter concludes with a set of questions for reflection, integration, and discussion. These are not easy, superfluous questions; they don’t let us off the hook. Questions can be addressed in journals individually, or in small discussion groups. Readers might respond just once—or return to them often, since responses at different points in life will be different. The book concludes with twenty-four good-bye prayers that incorporate both images and movement. Most are for individual use, but any can be adapted for group prayer. “It is not expected that all the hurt will go away once the prayer is completed,” writes Rupp. “Rather, the prayers are bridges, enabling the pray-er to move the pain of goodbye to the spiritual realm. These prayers acknowledge the deep cutting truth of grief. They are meant to allow God’s entrance into the inner rooms of our hurt and to move a bit further into the healing process.”



Rupp, describing her ministry today, speaks of herself as a spiritual midwife. She speaks of walking with others on the spiritual journey. Her work is currently featured in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project sponsored by the spirituality and health website This site encourages people to expand and deepen their faith by learning from sacred texts and practices of many spiritual traditions. Mary Ann Brussart, one of the cofounders of the site , says: “We encourage people to read Joyce Rupp to discover ways to practice everyday spirituality, to find sensitive prayers to soften the heart, and to gain a vivid understanding of spiritual connections.” The genius of Praying our Goodbyes is that the book touches so many levels. Some books are for some people only; this book touches all. Who has not had a loss, a good-bye? Who has not experienced a job change, the death of a loved one, a financial struggle, a mid-life crisis or an extended illness? For readers who are ready, this book will help them to recognize, ritualize, and reflect on their losses and then begin to reorient themselves. Yet it also goes beyond personal loss. “Because we are pilgrims whose homeland is not here, we journey, search, travel, discover, live with mystery, doubt and wonder. We see dreams come true; we see hopes alive. We see dreams dashed; we see hopes die. We start over againwith people, work, prayer, our whole life, all the days of our life,” writes Rupp. She likens the “existential ache” we all experience to a flock of homesick cranes that are always searching and yearning. Praying Our Goodbyes is a book for a lifetime. ❙ Janet Schaeffler, OP, is the associate director of adult faith formation in

the Office for Faith Formation/Catechetics in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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e’re preempting the usual Tech Center info-spot in this magazine to spotlight the hands-on Tech Center at the NCCL Annual Conference in Louisville in April. The center will have fifteen computers online and available to attendees for workshops, email and Internet access. Workshops and talks will be geared specifically toward those who use or want to use technology to assist them in their ministries. Several web site hosts will give presentations. On Monday and Wednesday from 8:00 am–9:00 pm, volunteers will be available to answer any tech questions while people check their email or surf the web. A few highlights...




Free Webtools Vicky Wells Bedard TUESDAY 11


Fifteen Tech Tips Don Kurre These tips will help to insure that your use of technology will support your ministry and not complicate it. WEDNESDAY 10:30–11


Blog VS Wiki Don Kurre Two ways to support ongoing exchange of ideas on-line: This how-to session will explain the difference between a blog and a wiki and how their use will enrich your ministry. WEDNESDAY 11–11:30


Spotlight on eZedia QTI! Tim Welch What is it? Simply one of the easiest ways of combining photos, movies and sounds into a media-rich teaching/learning experience. Anyone for integrating multimedia into catechesis? WEDNESDAY NOON–1:30


Geek Meet The Geek Meet is an opportunity for tech geeks and geekwannabe’s to meet and brainstorm together on ways that technology can be used by and for the catechetical ministry. Geeks are welcome to bring “show and tell” technology, tips, and tricks to share with the group. Geek wannabe’s are welcome to join in, learn and voice how we can better help each other on the road to geekdom!

continued on page 23

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NCD continued from page 5

...where SLF focuses on the act of teaching, NDC (as guided by the GDC) focuses on catechesis as part of the process of evangelization.

The bishops decided to write a new document and not just revise SLF for a number of reasons. Where SLF was developed from the General Catechetical Directory (GCD), the NDC was developed from the GDC. These two Vatican directories are substantially different in style, content, tone, and approach. The GDC was a new work, not a revision of the GCD. In the same way, the NDC is substantially different from SLF in style, content, tone, and approach. The NDC is a new work, not a revision of SLF. Another example of this fundamental difference is that where SLF focuses on the act of teaching, NDC (as guided by the GDC) focuses on catechesis as part of the process of evangelization. As the GDC puts it so well, catechesis is to be seen “as a process of formation and as a true school of the faith” (GDC, No. 91). The NDC takes seriously the GDC’s insight that the RCIA is the model for all catechesis—a process of initiation into Catholic life and faith. There is no less emphasis in the NDC on the important role of teaching the faith faithfully and completely, but there is added emphasis on all the other aspects Christian formation.






The Introduction sets out the vision for the NDC: the purpose of catechesis is to do what Christ directed his apostles to do—proclaim the Gospel and bring people into communion with God. The Directory is to be a source of inspiration for catechesis, and a reference point for the formation of catechists and the preparation of catechetical resources. The purpose of the Directory is to: ■

provide fundamental theological and pastoral principles and apply them to pastoral activity

offer guidelines for the application of those principles

set forth the nature, purpose, object, tasks, basic content, and various methodology of catechesis

As an official document of the USCCB, the audience for the NDC is primarily those who have responsibility for catechesis in the dioceses, parishes, and schools in the United States.





This chapter presents the cultural and religious factors that establish the context for catechesis in the United States. The great regional diversity of the United States is presented, along with many of the factors that shape modern American culture. The chapter closes with a brief presentation on the role of the Catholic family in faith formation and the struggles it faces today.

Another area where SLF and the NDC differ is in the amount of content provided. In SLF, chapters 3–7 present church teaching in some detail. But SLF was written before the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and so had to provide much greater content for the catechist. The NDC recognizes the CCC as the primary source of church teaching and encourages catechists to use the CCC. The NDC still provides a brief summary of church teaching as it applies in each chapter, but more attention is given now to how this material is to be taught.


The church has focused a great deal of attention on the concept of “inculturation” since SLF was published. Both the GDC and the NDC pay serious attention to the importance of inculturating the Christian message. The NDC focuses on the needs of people from ethnic backgrounds and of people who live with disabilities. More complete guidance is provided in the NDC on how catechesis is to be done with these groups, building upon recent documents from the Holy See and the USCCB.

Catechesis is presented as that particular form of the ministry of the word that matures initial conversion and brings about in the believer a mature faith in Jesus, a deeper knowledge and love for him and the church, and a firm commitment to follow him. It develops initial faith, sustains gradual conversion, nourishes the Christian life, and continually unfolds the mystery of Christ. The object of all catechesis is to put people into communion and an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an essential action of the church, a pivotal dimension of the church’s pastoral activity, and a significant element in all the church does; catechesis is the responsibility of the whole church.

In the rest of this article I will offer a brief tour of the NDC. My aim is to provide a general overview of the NDC and to identify for the catechetical leader some of the key themes found there.



This chapter shows the connectedness between catechesis and evangelization. The NDC points out that the new evangelization promoted by Pope John Paul II is aimed at personal transformation which is accomplished through ongoing catechesis. This new evangelization is aimed at all people, and demands both the inculturation of the Gospel into a culture and the transformation of the culture by the Gospel. Scripture and tradition, guided by the church’s magisterium, are recognized as the sources for catechesis.

Inculturation brings the power of the Gospel into the very heart of every culture and is the process by which catechesis takes root with-

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to God’s revelation, respectful of personal liberty, and promote active participation of those being catechized.

in a culture. The new evangelization calls for a clearly conceived, serious, and well organized effort to evangelize culture. The inculturation of the Gospel message in the United States correlates faith and life, disposes people to receive Jesus into every dimension of their diverse lives, and touches them on all levels. The catechist is an important instrument of inculturation.




This chapter provides the criteria for the authentic presentation of the Christian message in the United States at this time. Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the General Directory for Catechesis, and the NDC are presented as distinct, yet complementary instruments that serve the church’s catechetical activity. Catechesis is to take Scripture as its inspiration, fundamental curriculum, and its norm; the thought and perspective of Scripture should guide catechesis. The frequent use of biblical texts themselves is encouraged. The authentic presentation of the Christian message is to ■

be Trinitarian, yet centered on Christ

proclaim the Good News of salvation and liberation

come from and lead to the church

have a historical character

inculturate the comprehensive Gospel message while preserving its integrity and purity

contain the comprehensive Christian message built upon the hierarchy of truths

communicate the profound dignity of the human person, and

foster a common language of faith




This chapter focuses on God’s revelation—the self-disclosure of the loving communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as the source and model of the pedagogy of faith. Catechesis conveys God’s loving plan of salvation by attending to the development of all dimensions of faith and leading people to a conversion in Christ as they become his disciple. All catechetical methods must be faithful

The NDC notes that the church uses diverse methodology, as needed, to transmit the faith. Two primary catechetical methods are inductive and deductive. But it is not enough to focus on method: the situation of those being catechized is integral to the successful transmission of the Gospel. The NDC points out that catechetical method transmits both the content of faith and the source of that content, both interacting and working in harmony. The NDC recognizes that people are catechized in many and sundry ways, both formal and informal, and include human experience, Christian witness, parish and family life, and through mass media.




This chapter focuses on the intimate connection between catechesis and liturgical and sacramental life. While liturgy itself catechizes, catechesis both precedes liturgy and springs from it. Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ. This is the longest chapter in the NDC. The NDC focuses on the importance of personal and liturgical prayer. Prayer is seen as the way the human person establishes, builds, and maintains a vital and personal relationship with God. The NDC notes the importance of children and young people learning to pray within the family and learning how to call upon God regularly. This chapter also provides guidance on sacramental catechesis. The baptismal catechumenate is presented as the inspiration for all catechesis because it inspires continuing catechesis and conversion to Christ, and encourages ongoing initiation into the life of the church. Lifelong catechesis is to be provided for each of the sacraments using the guidance provided in the NDC. For those engaged in preparing children for the first reception of the Eucharist, the NDC says that the Directory for Masses with Children sets the framework for these Eucharistic celebrations and that such catechesis should be suited to children’s age and ability and help them participate actively and consciously at Mass. Throughout, the NDC pays special attention to the catechetical needs of people living with disabilities. The NDC says that these people have the right to participate in the sacraments as full functioning members of the local church and that all forms of liturgy should be completely accessible to them. This chapter also looks at the importance of catechesis on sacred time, space, music, and art and architecture. Such catechesis should be lifelong, include catechesis on the religious customs and traditions of the various cultures within the church in the United States, and introduce people to the traditional and modern music, art, and architecture of both the Latin and Eastern churches.

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This chapter focuses on catechesis for living a moral life in Christ. It is to be a catechesis of grace which promotes good works, anticipates eternal life with God, and recognizes human sinfulness and God’s merciful forgiveness. This catechesis is to be rooted in the dignity of the human person as created by God. Moral catechesis involves the proclamation and presentation of the principles and practice of Christian morality, the integration of moral principles into lived experience, and demonstration of the social consequences of the Gospel. Catechesis for life in Christ recognizes that social justice is imbedded in the Gospel message of Jesus and that the church’s social teaching comprises a body of doctrine that is a living tradition of thought and action, part of a systematic moral framework that are constituent elements of her magisterium. The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes are the primary reference points for the application of Christian moral principles. Guidance is provided on catechizing both.






This chapter addresses those to be catechized. Focusing once again on inculturation, the NDC makes clear that catechesis must take into account the circumstances and cultures of those being catechized: “...there is but one saving Word—Jesus Christ—but that Word can be spoken in many different ways.” It notes that people develop in faith at their own pace related to human development and pass through many stages. The catechesis of adults is recognized as the principal form of catechesis. The catechetical formation of adults is seen as essential. All catechesis for every age group is to help people become Jesus’ disciples. Guidelines are provided for offering catechesis in age appropriate and developmentally appropriate forms for all people, from older adult to infants. Catechesis for all groups is to be closely integrated so that it builds, one stage upon the other, and is to be coordinated by the parish pastor and other catechetical leaders. Once again highlighted is the need to provide catechesis for people living with disabilities.

CHAPTER 8: THOSE WHO CATECHIZE This chapter examines the various roles of those involved in the catechetical process. Catechists are said to be esteemed members of the church’s apostolate who perform a fundamental evangelical service for the church. Catechesis is said to occupy a particularly important place in diocesan efforts to evangelize and is to be a collaborative effort involving priests, deacons, religious and laity in communion with the diocesan bishop.


The NDC notes that bishops are to promote a real passion for catechesis, direct the catechetical mission of the diocese through the pastors and those he appoints to the diocesan catechetical office, and ensure March 2005


Volume 16, Number 2

that the ministry of catechesis receives the support of competent personnel, effective means, and adequate financial resources. Bishops are to appoint “highly skilled and professional diocesan catechetical leaders,” and commission “truly competent diocesan catechetical staff.” The NDC pays the most attention to those who catechize within the parish. The role of priests and pastors is clearly spelled out. Priests are called to be the “catechist of catechists” and are said to be “absolutely essential contributors to effective catechetical programs.” They are to provide “zealous leadership” to all aspects of the parish catechetical plan and offer support to everyone engaged in the ministry of catechesis. Also highlighted is the role of the parish catechetical leader (the NDC does not use the term DRE or CRE). It says the single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the leadership of a professionally trained parish catechetical leader. Parishes are encouraged to allocate their resources so that they are able to acquire the services of a competent and qualified leader or to share such a leader with another parish. Parish catechetical leaders are to have completed systematic training and study in catechesis, work under the direction of the pastor, and be full members of the parish leadership team. They are to be responsible for the overall direction of the parish catechetical program for people of all ages, have clear and specific job descriptions, and receive compensation according to their education, experience, and responsibilities. Also highlighted are the catechetical roles and responsibilities of the parish youth minister. The NDC names catechist formation as an essential part of a parish catechetical plan. Programs of formation are to ensure that catechists grow in knowledge of the faith, learn (by means of savoir-faire, methods, and communication skills) how to transmit that knowledge effectively, and have opportunities to develop in their own faith. The Catholic school is noted as an effective vehicle of total Christian formation and a center for evangelization. The principal plays a crucial role in achieving the parish’s catechetical plan as do the teachers in the school. Catholic school religion teachers are to meet all diocesan standards for the certification of catechists. The pastoral care of catechists is to be an essential aspect of the diocese’s overall catechetical plan. Catechists should be commissioned yearly in a ceremony that expresses the church’s call, recognizes the catechist’s generous response, and confidently sends the catechist out to proclaim the Gospel. Special training is to be provided to catechists of persons with disabilities and for catechists working with cultural groups not their own. Dioceses are encouraged to develop comprehensive catechist formation programs that lead to formal certification. Diocesan offices are to support parishes in the formation of catechists and catechetical leaders.


...the single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the leadership of a professionally trained parish catechetical leader.

Parishes are to provide a comprehensive and systematic program of instruction and formation for children of all ages; programs may be through the home or at the parish. They are to use every means available to reach families whose children do not participate in the parish’s catechetical programs.

CHAPTER 10: RESOURCES CHAPTER 9: ORGANIZING CATECHETICAL MINISTRY This chapter looks at the ways the parish and diocese carry out catechesis. The NDC notes that when organizing for catechesis, all levels should follow an overall pastoral and catechetical plan. Such plans are called for at both the parish and diocesan levels; parish plans are to flow from diocesan plans and are to be adequately financed and staffed by trained and professional catechetical leaders. Catechetical programs and activities for all age levels and groups should be coordinated so that they build, one upon the other. Every diocese is to have an office responsible for catechesis under the direction of the bishop. The size, needs, administrative structure, and resources of a diocese will determine the size and function of its catechetical office.



This chapter focuses on how the resources used in catechesis are to be created and evaluated. Such resources are to recognize sacred Scripture’s preeminent position in the life of the church. These resources are also to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. All resources should be appropriate for the people using them: catechetical materials for people whose native language is not English should be written in those languages and not simply translated. Special materials for use with persons with disabilities are to be developed by professionals in the field. Great attention is given to the creation and evaluation of textbooks. They should present the authentic message of Christ and his church, adapted to the capacity of the learners and in the language that can be understood by them. They are to be faithful to the sacred Scriptures and in conformity with the CCC. Textbooks used in a diocese are to be approved by the local bishop, be culturally appropriate, and reflect real-life situations. Textbooks should also set forth the church’s principles for ecumenical formation and the results of specific dialogues between churches. Finally, the NDC recognizes the importance of using communication media to catechize. Diocesan catechetical and communications personnel are to explore each individual medium of communication for its catechetical potential and then assist catechists to develop the specific skills needed to effectively use the media.

CONCLUSION The conclusion of the NDC provides a fitting conclusion to this article. The NDC presents the fundamental theological and pastoral principles for catechesis and their application within the church in the United States. It was developed to be a source of inspiration for the new evangelization and the renewal of catechesis. Through its publication the bishops desire to kindle new fires, and a fresh commitment to catechetical initiatives. Having lived and worked with the NDC for the past five years, I am biased toward it. I leave it to others to parse its grammar and consider how it might have been better. I can only encourage you to read it carefully and see how it calls you to go and make disciples. ❙ Daniel S. Mulhall is Assistant Secretary for Catechesis & Inculturation

at the USCCB Department of Education, Washington, DC. Dan can be reached at

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A SLOW DANCE continued from page 11

and the discussion becomes practical and relevant to the parishioners’ needs. This year’s mission will try to correlate the latest developments in the world of science and cosmology with our Biblical tradition and our church’s teaching: “God’s Unfolding Embrace, Our Place in the Universe”.

phrase of the great catechist, Joannes Hoffinger, SJ). I recall a saying of Fr. Bernie Jewett, a pastor in the Tulsa diocese, that registered with me many years ago and has helped me to keep a balanced perspective: “A parish doesn’t have a catechetical program; a parish is a catechetical program.” ❙

We are aware of the crucial importance of our church’s teaching on social justice, and look forward to the new compendium of that teaching being published by the Vatican. In addition to the homilies offered by the pastor and the other priests, we plan to sponsor some adult catechetical sessions on this topic and do our best to integrate this social teaching in our programs with young people. Our peace and justice ministry has hosted some fine programs, including speakers like Sr. Helen Prejean and letter-writing campaigns to members of Congress and the state legislature in favor of aid to the poor and disenfranchised in our state, our country and the world.

Fr. Thomas P. Ivory is pastor of Presentation Catholic Church in Upper

Saddle River, NJ. He has also served as the Diocesan Director of Newark, and is a past president of NCCL. He holds a PhD in religious education from the Catholic University of Leuven.

Writing a weekly column for the parish bulletin provides this pastor with an opportunity to highlight current parish events and publicly to thank parish staff members and volunteers for outstanding collaboration in certain events. Our parish bulletin is accessible on our parish website (, and some of our ministries maintain an interactive contact with their members through the website. The constant challenge is to keep the website up-to-date and to improve our communications process. (This would be a good example of where an occasional gap exists between the vision and the reality.)



Pastors have other responsibilities in addition to catechetical leadership in the parish and that is why it is beneficial to invite competent persons to collaborate in the various dimensions of parish ministry. Fortunately I am pastor of a parish where the budget allows for four professional ecclesial ministers in our catechetical ministry. Pastors in other financial circumstances may have the resources for only one catechetical minister or depend on gifted volunteers. Along with the other pastoral members, I place a high value on continuing education and formation, and our budgeting of time and treasure helps to support that value. When we have team meetings, our agenda always includes time for prayer and faith-sharing in a small Christian community format. This practice has also spread to our meetings of the pastoral council, our strategic planning community and our finance council. Our leadership and consultative bodies are trying to set a good example for the rest of our parishioners in terms of community building and collaboration, basic elements of the catechetical enterprise. All the various activities and ministries in the parish ought to be part of our mission of “evangelizing catechesis” (to borrow the

“A parish doesn’t have a catechetical program; a parish is a catechetical program.”

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NEW WINESKINS continued from page 12

ing their catechetical knowledge become obsolete! They gain more knowledge in many secular sciences, yet their religious knowledge remains at confirmation level. As a result, when they encounter some crisis in their life, their religious knowledge cannot offer them any satisfactory answer, and they start falling away from the church. “...How can they stay refreshed?” asks Thomas H. Green, S.J., in his book, When The Well Runs Dry. “Only when we know God more intimately will we have a chance to endure any challenge in our life.”



Together with our DRE, Caron L’Italien, I attempted something new this year in the parish: We moved the sacramental classes for all children from Wednesday evenings to Sunday mornings in the hour or so between a Spanish and English Mass. The whole religious education program is in English, with the assistance of some bilingual catechists. The purpose is twofold: first, to encourage more children to attend Mass; and second, to offer a class for parents at the same time. I first met with some capable parishioners to form a teaching team and invited them to come up with the topics they would feel comfortable teaching. We then arranged the topics appropriately throughout the church liturgical year. The topics ranged widelyfrom the creed to Christian unity to private devotionals to Catholic citizenship. The topics were announced in advance through flyers and bulletins and included in the weekly announcements. Some classes were conducted in Spanish for our Hispanic parishioners. In addition, the parish this year offers several classes during the year at night. The topics run from the sacred Scriptures to theology, from

liturgy to spirituality. I myself conduct two different Biblical courses. Some classes are well attended; some are not. This year might be considered experimental. I plan to have an evaluation after the end of the year. Next year I plan to survey parishioners to ask for their input, even the topics they want to discuss. There are still many things we can do together. May God bring to perfection the good that he already started in us! ❙ Fr. Khanh Ho is pastor at St. Louis Church in Winnie, Texas. He can

be reached at

TECH CENTER continued from page 17

TUESDAY 1:00-2:15

Breakouts MONDAY 11




Using the NCCL Homepage Sr. Kathy Kandefer BVM In this workshop participants will learn how to navigate through the NCCL website, how to enter the member area, how to change personal information online and how to order from the bookshop. MONDAY 2:15–3:30


Adult Faith Formation Online Angela Ann Zukowski MHSH Participants will be able to identify three current major trends in online learning that impacts online adult faith formation, compare and contrast traditional principles of adult education with those of online adult education, and grow in understanding of the value online learning offers to support ministries in the church.


Methodological Considerations of e-Learning for Catechetical Training and Adult Faith Formation Richard Drabik E-learning from both sides of the screen. On one side, individuals looking for online oportunities will find out what to look for, what to watch out for. On the other side, those looking toward beginning e-learning formats in their own ministries will have their issues and concerns addressed. Participants will understand the “client side” approach to development, recognize the pit-falls of e-learning, and gain an appreciation of the value of e-learning for adult faith formation. WEDNESDAY 9:00–10:15

Stewardship of Information—Better Communications for Increased Participation Vicki Wells Bedard

April Dietrich is director of adult catechesis at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Frederick, Maryland, and a self-professed geek in training. Please

email insights, comments and suggestions to

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LOOKING IN THE MIRROR continued from page 14



Eleven years ago I participated with twenty-two other priests from around the country in a symposium called “The Priest as Empowerer of Catechetical Ministry.” The symposium reminded us that there is no single approach to catechetical ministry for parishes throughout the country. However, there are some common elements to be considered: ■

The Holy Spirit is the true empowerer of catechetical ministry but the priest nurtures and encourages people to be open to the power of the Spirit in their lives.

Priests ought not to be threatened by the successes of others. We need to be mindful of our own strengths and weaknesses. We do not possess all the skills and talents necessary.

Priests recognize the talents of others and encourage people to use their talents.

Priests give confidence by trusting others.

It is a privilege for me to now serve as pastor in our parish community setting. As important as the role of pastor may be in the life of a parish, I could not do it alone nor would I want to. The church is most alive for me when I see people take ownership of their parish and participate as fully as they are able. Together we all continue to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ! ❙ Fr. Terry Odien is pastor of Holy Saviour Catholic Church in Westmont, New Jersey. He is a former president of NCCL and a consultant for Silver Burdett Ginn Religion. He can be reached at

REACHING THE “HEART” LEVEL continued from page 8

in trouble, do and say inappropriate things, pull things for which you would like to pull them, and come crashing down just when you thought they were about to soar for life. They might still drift from the practice of their faith from time to time (notably during their freshman year in college). It might well be a while before we see them at confession or even Mass. But, if they have experienced the Teacher, then they will never forget his voice and they will respond to it when he once again gets their attention and drags them back to us. Then, they will want to get to know him even more and dig through the content that helps them understand, express, and live his love. Content teaches about Christ and about Christ’s church—it cannot make people care. Does anyone really believe that the great number of people who have left the Catholic Church have done so because they didn’t really know what the church taught? Or, did it just not matter? The time-tested principle “experience precedes learning” might as well have been discovered on Mount Sinai. The real, up-front, personal, in-

your-face experience of Christ in tradition, in sacrament, in others, and in ministry is what motivates people to learn more about him and spend a life getting even closer to him. ❙ Msgr. Patrick Bishop has been pastor at Transfiguration Parish in Atlanta,

Georgia since 1989. He can be reached at

24 March 2005


Volume 16, Number 2



Peter G. Martinez Fr. Peter G. Martinez, ordained in June 2004, is now Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Born and raised in Texas, he has a BA from The Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and MA, MDiv, and STB degrees in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. Prior to seminary he worked in youth ministry in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Dr. Marie Murphy The NCCL staff and Board expresses sadness at the death of our friend and colleague, Dr. Marie Murphy, who died on February 19, 2005, just before her scheduled presentation at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. In her long career in catechesis she had been a teacher, DRE, presenter of programs in contemporary spirituality and renewal, a consultant for many years to Sadlier, Inc., and author of a book, Karl Rahner on Death and Life After Death. She will be greatly missed in the catechetical community, says Joyce Crider, NCCL associate director.

Mary Alice O’Reilly The catechetical community mourns the death of Mary Alice O’Reilly, who worked in catechetical ministry for over 35 years. Although most of those years were spent in the Archdiocese of Omaha, she had the distinction of being one of the first DREs in the United States (in Winona, Minnesota, in 1966).

O’Reilly was well loved and appreciated by those with whom she came in contact, whether it was in a workshop setting, at liturgy or at a social event, says Sr. Kathy Kandefer, NCCL associate director. “I was first introduce to Mary Alice in 1979 when I was teaching kindergarten in Omaha. She came to the Air Force base to give a presentation to catechists. Recently, when I told Mary Alice that we met back then, she apologized for not remembering me,” Kandefer recalls. “As I reflect on those years, I know that she influenced my choice to get involved in catechetics.” O’Reilly received the NCCL Distinguished Service Award in 1997 in Orlando and remained an active NCCL member until her recent death at age 72.

Wendy Scherbart Wendy Scherbart is the new Associate for Catechetical Ministry in the Office of Pastoral Ministry of the Diocese of San Jose, California. She has served the local church as a Catholic school teacher and as director of catechetical ministry at two parishes in the San Jose diocese. She has been married for twenty-eight years to Jon Scherbart, a religion teacher at Bellarmine College Prep and has three children in college. She received master’s degrees in both education administration and catechetics from Santa Clara University. She is also a master catechist.

25 C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R

Advertisers’ Directory Be sure to visit these exhibitors at the Annual Conference.

RENEW International • 1232 George Street Plainfield, NJ 07062 For 25 years, RENEW International has fostered spiritual renewal, evangelization and catechesis through parish-based small Christian communities. RENEW’s processes deepen faith and offer motivation to help people courageously live in witness to Jesus Christ.

Driven by a vision of lifelong catechesis, Harcourt Religion Publishers strives to involve all members of the parish faith community through resouces that are ageappropriate, systematic, and intentional Resources for Christian Living P.O. Box 7000. • Allen, Texas 75013-1305

Phone: 908.769.5400 • Fax: 908.769.5660 Email: • • Since 1832, William H. Sadlier, Inc. has been a family owned and managed publisher dedicated to developing quality catechetical materials that address the needs of the Catholic community.


Liguori Publications One Liguori Drive. • Liguori, Missouri 63057-9999 800.325.9521

William H. Sadlier, Inc. • 9 Pine Street • New York, NY 10005-1002 800.221.5175 Saint Mary’s Press is a nonprofit Catholic publisher administered by the Christian Brothers of the Midwest Province. Saint Mary’s Press is a contemporary expression of the Catholic Church’s mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Lasallian mission to provide a human and Christian education for young people. With our partners in schools, parishes, and families, we share the Good News of Jesus Christ with Catholic Christian youth, ages 10-19, through publications and services. Silver Burdett Ginn Religion publishes faith formation resources for children, families, and the whole parish community. Our consultants and sales representatives are ready to assist you with information, presentations and in-service training. Silver Burdett Ginn Religion 299 Jefferson Road • Parsippany, NJ 07054 1-800-338-2150 •


The Loyola Institute for Ministry (LIM) provides ministry education coursework on its New Orleans campus and via many LIM Extension studies locations throughout the U.S. and internationally. The Institute is also the home of the Loyola Pastoral Life Center (LPLC), a professional continuing education organization. March 2005


Volume 16, Number 2

C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R EDITOR: Joyce A. Crider EDITORIAL CONSULTANT: Mary Kay Schoen DESIGN: Rings Leighton Design Group PUBLISHER: Neil A. Parent Catechetical Leader (ISSN: 1547-7908) is published six times a year by the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), 3021 Fourth Street, NE, Washington, DC 20017-1102. Authors’ views do not necessarily reflect those of NCCL. Letters to the editor and submissions of news items are encouraged. Send to Catechetical Leader at the address above or email Phone: (202) 636-3826/Fax: (202) 832-2712. Contact NCCL for reprints. Copyright © 2004 by NCCL Subscription rates: (U.S. addresses): One year $24; two years, $42; three years, $54. NCCL members receive Catechetical Leader as a part of membership. To subscribe, send name and address with check or credit card number to NCCL at address above. Bulk rate subscriptions: 2–5 subscriptions, $22 each; 6–10 subscriptions, $20; 11–20, $18; 21 or more, $16. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to NCCL, 3021 Fourth Street, NE, Washington, DC 20017-1102.


ARE YOU REGISTERED? IT’S ONLY A FEW DAYS AWAY! THE 2005 NCCL NATIONAL CONFERENCE & EXPO IN LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY APRIL 10–14, 2005 THE GALT HOUSE HOTEL & SUITES REGISTER ONLINE WWW.NCCL.ORG This is the conference catechetical leaders are talking about. Celebrate the Easter season and spring in Louisville. The warm weather and the dogwoods are calling. Come dialogue, learn, and grow in your ministry.

27 C AT E C H E T I C A L L E A D E R


PARISH CATECHESIS KEYS ACROSS 1 9 10 11 12 15 16 17 18 19 20 23

Primary mission of the church Famous Michelangelo sculpture 3.14... NBC drama Aperture Frame of animation Integration of faith and culture Constricting snake Speak Stare Swiss mountains Liturgical vessel for Precious Blood 25 Observe covertly 26 Tangle 27 Opposite of upper left—abbr. 28 Bishop’s miter, for one 30 Honey or bumble 31 Scottish “from” 33 Application of Gospel values, with 50A 36 Fail to win 37 Listening tradition 39 __, myself, and I 40 God within us 42 Gender choice letters 43 Insurance company 45 Study 46 Imaginative question, “What __?” 47 Liturgical, contextual interpretation of Scripture 48 Herbal or green 50 With 33A

52 Unjustly following sex, age, or race? 53 Anecdotes 54 Groom’s attire 58 Pester 59 “Taped live” or “jumbo shrimp”








6 12

9 14







13 15


16 17

1 Old McDonald’s letters 2 In one’s native language 3 Reverse initials of the Angelic Doctor 4 Creation 5 Public worship and rites 6 Subside 7 Honest 8 Zilch 12 Crouch 13 Speaking tradition 14 Partner 15 Teamwork 20 Indefinite article 21 Leads a liturgical celebration 22 Frozen precipitation 24 Delivering 47A 25 OT young prophet, for short 26 Title for Patrick or Joseph 28 Half a laugh 29 Gore and Pacino 31 Related group 32 Hooligan 34 Prefix for God with present and potent 35 Not fantasy

by Megan Anechiarico

27 26


32 31

25 24


43 43



20 1



36 38 41 44


34 39









41 45



48 52 60























Fib Majestic felines Conversation with God Italian initials for World Youth Day 49 Prayer ender 51 Acronym for 1965 law concerning casting ballots

55 Initials for institute of higher learning in Ann Arbor 56 Hugs and kisses letters 57 Accomplish

Subscribe now to Catechetical Leader (NCCL members receive Catechetical Leader as part of membership.) Rates: One year: $24.00 Two years: $42.00 Three years: $54.00

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28 March 2005


Volume 16, Number 2


March 2005 - CL Magazine  

The Pastor as Catechetical Leader

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