Pope Francis Vision for Catechesis: The Path to Forming Missionary Disciples. Joseph D. White, Ph.D.

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1 Pope Francis Vision for Catechesis: The Path to Forming Missionary Disciples Joseph D. White, Ph.D. This Catechetical Moment The Catechetical Legacy of Pope Francis Predecessors Pope Paul VI General Catechetical Directory (1971) Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975) Pope John Paul II Catechesi Tradendae (1979) General Directory for Catechesis (1997) Pope Benedict Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers (2000, as Cardinal Ratzinger) The Current Climate Continued de-christianization in the Western world Growing Church in the developing world Increased attention to the social action of the Church in the World Enter Pope Francis First pope from Latin America; First modern pope from developing world Unprecedented engagement with popular culture Concern for the poor Attention to the global community (e.g., recent announcement of Synod of Bishops dedicated to the people in the Amazon region) A Catechesis of Encounter in this stepping out [of ourselves] it is important to be ready for encounter Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others. Pope Francis Homily, Pentecost Sunday 2013 When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God. The Joy of the Gospel, 272

2 Community outreach tours of the Church, Blessing of the Animals, other community events Get to know your learners what are their favorite things, their hopes, their dreams? An Inclusive, Welcoming Catechesis all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel. --Joy of the Gospel, 20. Pope Francis mentions the needs of families of persons with disabilities in his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (see paragraph 47). When properly understood, cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity. Joy of the Gospel, 117. Research and implement the new Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities Evaluate other ways to adapt catechesis for persons with special needs Reflect the diversity of the Church in leadership, planning of events, language and culture. A Kerygmatic Catechesis In catechesis too, we have rediscovered the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which needs to be the center of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal. Joy of the Gospel, 164 On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you. Joy of the Gospel, 164 Catechesis, as a component of the process of evangelization, needs to go beyond the simple realm of scholastics, in order to educate believers, beginning with children, to encounter Christ, living and working in his Church. Address To Participants In The Plenary Assembly Of The Pontifical Council For Promoting New Evangelization, May Know Christ. Witness Christ. Begin and end with the Paschal Mystery. Provide space for learners to encounter Christ in the Word. A Catechesis of Accompaniment The Church will have to initiate everyone priests, religious and laity into

3 this art of accompaniment which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life. Joy of the Gospel, 169 Genuine spiritual accompaniment always begins and flourishes in the context of service to the mission of evangelization Missionary disciples accompany missionary disciples. Joy of the Gospel, 173 Welcome questions (even contentious ones). Do not be afraid! Meet people where they are. Walk with them as the begin to see where they need to be. Be flexible. Practice reflective listening. A Mystagogic Catechesis mystagogic initiation basically has to do with two things: a progressive experience of formation involving the entire community and a renewed appreciation of the liturgical signs of Christian initiation. Joy of the Gospel, 166. Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Joy of the Gospel, 167 Take field trips to the Church Take a tour of the sacristy Evaluate opportunities to catechize during the liturgy A Catechesis of Mercy I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think and I say it with humility that this is the Lord's most powerful message: mercy. Homily on March 17, 2013 God's mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).... Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish. Easter Urbi et Orbi message on March 31, 2013

4 Present sin honestly, present grace generously. Evaluate opportunities for celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation. Teach conflict resolution skills to adults, children and families. A Familial Catechesis The overall education of children is a most serious duty and at the same time a primary right of parents. Amoris Laetitia, 84 The Church is called to cooperate with parents through suitable pastoral initiatives, assisting them in the fulfilment of their educational mission. Amoris Laetitia, 85 Communicate with families on a regular basis (in person when possible, also by and parent newsletters). Consider having periodic parent-child family gathered sessions Provide seasonal and evergreen resources for bringing the faith home. A Joyful Catechesis The joy of the Gospel is such that it cannot be taken away from us by anyone or anything (cf. Jn 16:22). The evils of our world and those of the Church must not be excuses for diminishing our commitment and our fervor --Joy of the Gospel, 46 Don t be sourpusses Joy of the Gospel, 46 Radiate joy and enthusiasm. Cultivate gratitude. Keep a sense of humor. A Catechesis that is Connected to the Arts and Sciences Anthropological-cultural change, that today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach, does not permit us to limit ourselves to practices in pastoral ministry and mission that reflect forms and models of the past. Summa Familiae Cura, September 2017 A special place of encounter is offered by new Areopagi where believers and non-believers are able to engage in dialogue about fundamental issues of ethics, art and science, and about the search for transcendence. The Joy of the Gospel, 257 A systematic, comprehensive catechesis that is based on developmental windows of opportunity.

5 Helping our learners understand the contributions of the Church to the arts and sciences. Connecting what we know from science and art with what we know by faith. A Catechesis that Sends Disciples Forth in Mission In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples --The Joy of the Gospel (120). Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are disciples and missionaries, but rather that we are always missionary disciples. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: We have found the Messiah! (Jn 1:41). Joy of the Gospel, 120. Main Point Ask Me Questions Help learners discover their gifts and talents Offer children and families opportunities to participate in service projects Our Sunday Visitor. All Rights Reserved.

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