The Call of the Catechist
In March and April of 2023, the CCCB Office for Evangelization and Catechesis hosted a webinar series, titled « The Call of the Catechist », inviting leaders of catechesis and evangelization to participate in a national discussion on the formation of catechists aimed at those involved in catechesis and evangelization today.
Inspired by the need to identify the needs of catechists today, the three sessions of The Call of the Catechist webinar series were:
- “Discerning Charisms” — Sherry Weddell
- “The Spirituality of the Catechist” — Sr. Janet Schaeffler, O.P.
- “Theological Reflection and the Catechist” — Anne Walsh, D.Min.
A reflection guide is included and may be used by individuals or in small groups after viewing the webinar. You may wish to offer in-person or online gatherings to view the webinar, followed by a period of reflection and discussion.
It may be helpful to have the following materials on hand:
- A Catholic Bible;
- The video recordings of each session (if not viewing the videos as a group);
- Additional materials and resources provided by each keynote presenter (optional).
Guidelines for Discussions
- All participants may be invited to contribute to the discussions. However, some may choose not to speak and this should be respected.
- One person speaks at a time.
- Participants, if they choose, may respond to the speaker with humility and charity.
Session 1: Discerning Charisms
Keynote: Sherry Weddell
- Have I encountered Jesus in the Word, Sacraments and prayer? Have I had my own experience of transformative encounter with Jesus? How did Jesus transform my life?
- What gifts do I see in myself as a completely unique person?
- Sherry explained that charisms:
- Are focused outward (for the sake of others, to be given to others),
- Bear results above natural abilities,
- Are used long-term (whole life),
- Manifest when faith becomes personal or when meeting the person/situation that needs that gift and
- Are received from God (not self-chosen).
While actively being exercised, charisms:
- Are energizing, satisfying and joyful,
- Make you feel like you ‘fit’ (even in novel situations), and
- Feel prayerful, contemplative, in the presence of God.
Have I experienced God working in me through a charism?
- Where have I witnessed redemptive healing through the exercise of a charism, in myself or in others?
- What are some examples of societal transformations that have occurred because charisms were at work in cooperation with Christ’s redemptive grace?
- In the context of my ministry, where have I seen the evangelizing effects of charisms? (These effects may have removed impediments to faith in God, restored trust in God, encouraged the opening of lives to God, revealed Christ to others and led others to Christ.)
For more information on charisms please see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 799–801.
Session 2: The Spirituality of the Catechist
Keynote: Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP
- Janet said that spirituality is who we are and what we do because of what we believe because of what we’ve experienced.
Reflecting on the last two weeks, when was a time I experienced God, God’s love, God’s care, God’s creativity?
- Spiritualties are often described by one’s state in life (lay, married, single, in the workplace, etc.) or one’s culture (Hispanic, French, Celtic, Indigenous).
What characteristics would describe my spirituality?
- What roles in my life at this present time impact who I am? What has helped me realize there is more to life than meets the eye? Who or what has helped me experience God in my life?
- What are my spirituality initials? (E.g. HFC (Husband, Father, Caregiver), ADT (Aunt, Dreamer, Teacher), PGC (Protector, Grandparent, Catechist).)
- Some of the characteristics of catechist spirituality are Christ-centred, community-focused, hopeful, compassionate, and sees the sacred in the ordinary.
How do these characteristics help me to accompany others through catechesis?
Session 3: Theological Reflection and the Catechist
Keynote: Anne Walsh, DMin
- Theological reflection through scripture:
Anne invited us to reflect on the Emmaus Journey (Lk 24:13–35):
- Reflect on the encounter of the disciples with Jesus on the Emmaus Journey (Lk 24:13–27). How did Jesus accompany these disciples? Has anyone accompanied me the way that Jesus accompanied these two disciples? How did they accompany me?
- Reflect on the conclusion of the Emmaus Journey as Jesus departs from the disciples (Lk 24:28–31). What happened in the house? What changed when Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it? How does this speak to me? When have I, in the company of another person, had light shone onto my path?
- Think about how the disciples witnessed to the Apostles their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:32–35). When or where has my heart burned like this? What happened because my heart burned? What changed because I experienced that lifting/burning of my heart?
- Theological reflection through an element of tradition or a doctrinal concept:
Anne said that theological reflection gets us to reflect on the past so that we might see Jesus walking with us today, in the present. Reflect on the Paschal Mystery (adapted from G. Broccolo and R. Rolheiser):
- Death: What paschal experiences, experiences of loss or death (not necessarily physical) have I had?
- Entombment: Once we experience a Paschal death we enter into the tomb with Jesus for some time (e.g., an hour, fifteen minutes, a year or five years). When have I lain in the tomb? When did there appear to be no way out? What is my tomb?
- Resurrection: Resurrection is a choice: Do I want my old life back or do I want to embrace the new life offered by Jesus? For which resurrection do I long? For which resurrection do I pray? Which resurrection does Jesus hold out before me?
- Ascension: After a period of mourning that which holds us to the old life, I must ask myself: What must I let go of? What must I mourn in order to be able to embrace and live fully the new life I am promised?
- Pentecost: Once the mourning is concluded, I must make changes to my life. What is the new life that is being offered to me? What gifts do I pray for in order to be able to embrace this new life and live it fully? What does this new life look like? What form does the Holy Spirit (gift and sustenance for this new life) take?
- Theological reflection through the events of our own lives (reflection on an experience):
What impactful personal experience, life event or story I have had?
- Where did it happen? When did it happen? Who was involved?
- What questions do I have for clarification or for additional detail?
- What images or stories from scripture come to mind?
- Does this event take me to any element of our Christian tradition that could shed light on the experience?