September 3rd was the first day for the catechism cycle of 2016-2017. At my parish, St. Mary’s, the catechist normally makes a commitment of two years. So, when the kids come into first year of first communion they will have the same teacher for the second year, and the same for the other sacraments.
In this blog entry I want to share with everyone the heart of the catechist. Obviously, there are exceptions but I will dare to say that the majority of volunteers share similar feelings.
When we meet the kids for the very first time, kids whom were entrusted to us by the parents, before we feel any excitement… we get scared. Scared because we know that we are encountering 13-18 young souls searching for Christ. It’s a mission that apparently seems easy but it’s the total opposite. Our kids come from all type of homes and the majority are there to fulfill the requirement for their sacrament, but hey we will take it! God works with everything. It takes an “only to fulfill a requirement” excuse for God to manifest himself. In the thirty sessions per year that we have with the students, we share with them the rich doctrine we profess—the sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the prayers, the liturgy, the traditions, the festivities, the sacred scriptures and more! But in all honesty the doctrine the church professes with full force is that you have a companion, a friend, a person named Jesus who loves you more than you can imagine. The catechist doesn’t want to tell the students what they should believe. We simply present them the truth and they can then decide with their intelligence and child logic if they choose to believe or not. The tradition is so rich that it speaks for itself. The catechism is so true and reasonable that it speaks for itself, and there are thousands of resources to provide an interactive activity about a certain topic but the message is already there. That is not the hard part about being a catechist—the difficulty comes when the catechist has to live in the way the students deserve we live. Everyday waking up with the certainty that God loves me, to share the joy and happiness of being loved despite of the difficulty. The hard part is convincing the kiddos that it’s worth responding with love to Love.
The pain of the catechist comes. It comes when for two years you have given yourself completely to the parents and kiddos, and that after receiving their sacraments we never see them again at the parish. The catechist feels like he or she failed, the catechist thinks of all the things we could’ve done better all the things we failed in doing, the catechist hurts, I hurt. But the catechist also is conscious that the mission is not ours alone that God works where our hands cannot reach. With this reality I trust and I fill myself with hope. With that, I also try to better my service. The catechist understands that it’s a collaboration with God, and our hands will do what is possible but He will take care of the impossible.
But hey there is a definite positive side! There are many families who never attended Mass but because of the requirements from catechism to attend the two years every Sunday, they now don’t miss any weekend! And we cannot ignore that the catechist never, never, never gets tired of seeing the kiddos walk up to the altar in that sublime and most perfect moment, when the heavens come down and Christ himself becomes part of the child. Also, when you see one of the kiddos in line for confession ready to clean out their little hearts to reconcile with the Father and receive the gift of forgiveness—that is the gift that is the mission.
I conclude, today remember to pray for all the catechist, all the kiddos, parents, and coordinators.
“Nothing gives more value to my existence than to walk the young souls of our society to the feet of our Lord.” Anonymous
Joandra Ocampo – Writer, unparalleled love