January 12, 2016
The other day, I accompanied my sister to a shop which specializes in custom-made shades for lamps. My sister was looking for a simple, cream colored silk shade in the right proportion for her lamp. Well, the owner of the shop was having none of that. In fact, she would not wait on my sister until she produced the actual lamp. That’s her policy. No lamp? No lampshade.
Before my sister could express her wishes, the lampshade artist launched into a vigorous treatise on why lampshades are a decorative art, not an afterthought. “Why would anyone buy a beautiful lamp and then putting a “nothing” shade on it?” On the other hand, the right lampshade could raise a run-of-the-mill, bland, pepper pot-shaped lamp (that pretty well describes every lamp in my home) from mundane to magnificent. An album of lampshade makeovers proved her point.
As my sister and I left (she clutching an elegantly patterned shade that she never would have chosen on her own), it crossed my mind that if we, especially those of us who are catechists, handed on our precious faith with the enthusiasm, skill and knowledge that this woman had brought to selling lampshades, our churches would be overflowing. We might have twice as many youngsters learning the faith as the 92,000 who are currently in our parish religious education programs.
The good news is that we can do this. Our catechist formation program is designed not just to provide theological knowledge but, just as importantly, the skills and the confidence to teach youngsters, many of whom are coming in after a day in public school and may not be eager for more classes. We teach our catechists how they can set hearts on fire with love and enthusiasm for learning the faith, and show them age-oriented activities that make sure the boys and girls retain
what they are learning.
Catechist formation, levels one and two, is provided free of charge all year round to any and every catechist in this Archdiocese and is available in both traditional and online formats. Levels three and four (Scripture) are available for a small fee. Each year, we also offer the Catechetical Forums in October; one is in the Bronx and the other is in Orange County. The Forum enables us to bring to our catechists national and local experts to help our catechists hone their teaching skills.
Check out the
Catechetical Office website
for more information. Aren’t our children worth it?