On Sunday, Nov. 5, the Catechetical Office will certify the men and women of the archdiocese who have earned competencies as parish religious education catechists, RCIA catechists, and directors and coordinators of religious education and the Catechumenate (RCIA). The Catechetical Office also will salute those who have reached service milestones or who have been of assistance to this education ministry, which serves more than 80 thousand Catholic children and youth. Bishop Gerald Walsh, vicar for clergy, will officiate at the ceremony in the chapel at Maryknoll headquarters in Ossining
If you are the parent, sibling or grandparent of a youngster in your parish's religious education program, you might know who that youngster's catechist is. You might identify the director or coordinator of the program. If you were initiated in the Catholic Church through a parish RCIA team, you'd know those people. Otherwise, you probably don't. You probably aren't aware of all the hours, days, week, months and years of study they undertake to become certified to hand on the faith. You don't see the work they do before, during and after religious education sessions to keep up the rigorous standards of their program. Why don't you know? Well, it's not your fault
One reason is that these women and men don't brag about themselves. They don't brag about the numbers of people whom they have welcomed to the church or taught about the faith. They are largely invisible except to those to whom they minister. The other reason is a misperception that parish religious education programs are somehow inferior to the religion classes in our Catholic schools. Let me assure you that parish religious education programs have stringent guidelines that conform to the U.S. Catholic Bishops' protocol. Our parish leaders and catechists are offered formation in theology, pedagogy, spirituality and administration. The programs are evaluated on regular basis by regional directors from the Catechetical Office, who also meet with the pastors
The Catholics of the archdiocese can be proud of the way the faith is handed in our parish religious education programs and RCIA. That's why Sunday, Nov. 5, should be so important to us all