CELEBRATING CATECHETICAL SUNDAY
September 19, 2021
I wish to greet all Catechists throughout the AEC Region as we celebrate Catechetical Sunday today.
There is much for us to celebrate and give thanks to God for this Catechetical Sunday. With a new Apostolic Letter titled Antiquum Ministerium issued “Motu Proprio” on the 11th day of May, 2021, Pope Francis instituted the Lay Ministry of Catechist. In his letter the Holy Father traced the Ministry of Catechist from Biblical times down through the years to our present-day Church. Thus, this new ministry in our Church has ancient origins going back to the New Testament as we can see in the Gospel of St. Luke (Lk. 1:3-4) and the Pauline Letters to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:28-31) and Galatians (Gal. 6:6).
The Holy Father clearly acknowledges the great contribution of catechists over the centuries of evangelization and mission. The Pope writes: “The history of evangelization over the past two millennia clearly shows the effectiveness of the mission of catechists.” The Holy Father goes on: “Nor can we forget the countless lay men and women who directly took part in the spread of the Gospel through catechetical instruction. Men and women of deep faith, authentic witnesses of holiness, who in some cases were also founders of Churches and eventually died as martyrs. In our day too, many competent and dedicated catechists are community leaders in various parts of the world and carry out a mission invaluable for the transmission and growth of the faith.” The Holy Father says that these men and women “significantly advanced the Church’s mission and deserves to be recognized…” Today we give thanks to Almighty God for all those women and men who with deep faith and courageous heart, unselfishly give of themselves in this most noble ministry of catechist.
The very word “catechist” has its origin in the Greek term meaning “to echo”. When we think of the catechists through the years in parishes and satellite communities throughout our Caribbean Church, we can describe persons whose very lives reverberate and resound the person and message of Jesus. These women and men understood and lived their lives in answer to a call to the service of Jesus Christ by embodying his caring presence and continuing his ministry of proclaiming Good News to the world. Today we recognize and acknowledge the great contribution to the building of God’s Kingdom within the Caribbean Church by them and you as we celebrate those who went before and you who walk in their footsteps. And we recognize the many challenges you face as you continue to minister – challenges of living through these pandemic times; challenges brought about by the break down in family life and the individualistic philosophy that is promoted and lived in our world.
A grateful Church says THANK YOU for your dedicated and generous service and witness. May the God who called and missioned you into his service bless and reward you with a bountiful harvest for all your labours. On behalf of all the Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference please accept this humble expression of our gratitude and our commitment to work with you in recognizing and promoting this great ministry in our Church – the Ministry of the Lay Catechist.
God’s richest blessing upon all of our catechists.
Given at Mandeville, Jamaica on this on this 3rd day of September, 2021 Feast of St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor
Most Rev. John D. Persaud
Bishop of Mandeville
Chairman of the AEC Commission on Doctrine & Faith Formation