by Maureen McKew

On Sunday, Nov. 3, the Catechetical Office will formally certify this year’s class of parish catechists, who have completed a strenuous program of formation courses that cover methodology, spirituality and, of course, theology. These women and men are nearly 100 percent unsalaried volunteers. They are moms and dads, aunts and uncles, professional teachers, business people, carpenters, administrative assistants…you name the occupation, they are in it.

Each of the many catechist formation courses is at least four weeks long with sessions lasting two hours each. Many catechists enjoy the camaraderie of on-site classes and travel some distances to get to them. Others like our on-line courses. Either way, there is a great of work involved.

Why do they do it? Why do they give up the precious few hours of leisure they have in order to drive to class or work late at night, posting on line? Why do they faithfully attend our annual Forums, where they can improve their skills in a variety of workshops?
Why, for that matter, do they give up their afternoons or their weekends to teach more than 80 thousand Catholic children, who attend other than Catholic schools?

Why do they spend hours nobody else sees, preparing for their religious education classes? Why do they labor in rooms that are less than ideal – not really classrooms at all?  Why do they stay with the director or coordinator of the program until the last child is picked up, no matter how long that takes? The answer is that our catechists act from love for Jesus, love for the children and youth they teach, and love for their parishes. All of us in the Catechetical Office are more grateful than we can ever express to our catechists, to the directors and coordinators of the parish religious education programs, to the pastors and, of course, to the families of catechists. You should be grateful, too, for they are handing on the precious gift of the Catholic faith, a vibrant, loving relationship with Jesus himself.