It's the time of year when we begin to consider catechesis in the year ahead, asking questions like How will our programs look? How many people will register? Will I have enough catechists, or will I volunteer again as a catechist? Will I use the same catechetical program, or should I look for another? The New Directory for Catechesis gives us a fresh view of catechesis, as well as things to keep in mind when choosing a catechetical curriculum. In episode 10, Steve and Deacon Matt reviewed essential features in a modern catechetical curriculum, including kerygma and flexibility. Evaluate your program based on their suggestions to ensure that it is current and meeting your needs.
Kerygma is a Greek word that describes proclaiming the core or essential components of the Gospel message.
A kerygmatic curriculum provides opportunities for encounter with Jesus Christ through prayer forms in which the Word of God saturates that program and the Gospel is the centerpiece. Clear connections between the Word and doctrine shows the Church reflecting on the Word of God.
A kerygmatic program encourages accompaniment. It reflects the core message of love and mercy and can therefore facilitate fellowship. A program is inanimate; It is the catechist, DRE, and parents of students that make a program come alive through intentionality and effort. This factor is a critical theme of kerygmatic catechesis because it relates to accompaniment and evangelization. A program that grows social bonds among peers, catechists, students, and parents provides opportunities for service and witness, and encourages accompaniment.
At the core, a kerygmatic program focuses on the Gospel message, connecting the particular teachings of the Church back to Jesus's love and mercy. We must see the Gospel in the curriculum. A curriculum should provide prayerful connections with the gospel and doctrine should connect to that central Gospel message of love and mercy. As Pope Francis puts it in The Joy of the Gospel, everything about catechesis has to ring out the message: “Jesus Christ loves you. Jesus Christ loves you.” It is the core message, but it can be obscured if certain topics are not connected back to the love of Christ.
Catechesis is changing rapidly due to changing family demographics and digital technologies. Catechetical programs today need to have multiple levels of flexibility.
One of the first areas of flexibility to consider in a catechetical program is that it is blended. A flexible program blends print with digital resources and ensures that the catechist is an active part of the equation.
One way a program can be blended is through a combination of print and digital resources, so that it’s not entirely print focused and not entirely digital focused but includes a modern and current mode of communicating through digital technology. Children are very familiar with the internet and devices such as computers, laptops, and smartphones. Catechists must speak the language of a digital culture.
A program must provide systematic catechesis, and can blend print and digital resources within this structure. Another way a program can be blended is through a blend of human instruction and digital instruction. The role of the catechist in sharing, reflecting, and modeling personal faith cannot be replaced by resources, whether print or digital. The active role of the catechists is an irreplaceable dynamic in blended catechesis.
Another area of flexibility is that a program supports multiple models of catechesis. Alternative models of catechesis, those that are not all in-class catechesis or traditional classroom catechesis, are on the rise.
A final area of flexibility to consider is remote capability. The ability to support remote catechesis has been a real need over the past few years. A program that has the capability to provide instructional, support, and assessment resources from a single location, deliver resources easily, and allow families to access these resources in a single place is advantageous.
When a curriculum has a missionary impulse, the primary goal is to make sure that learning about Jesus in applied an evangelistic way faith is modeled in meaningful, impactful ways. As a resource, the curriculum can support evangelization by providing good models—the examples of the saints and chances to witness creatively among peers and within the community—to help young people become missionary disciples.
A current and effective catechetical program is saturated with explanations of the saints. The saints teach us how to be evangelizers as missionary witnesses of the Gospel. A curriculum should introduce the saints as companions to trust and imitate, providing personal connections for the journey of faith.
Opportunities for Creative Faith Sharing
A curriculum should allow ways for students to creatively evangelize and articulate faith in authentic, truthful, meaningful ways with evangelistic goals (e.g. a service project) or assessments that help students become missionary disciples. A current curriculum provides integrated assessments that not only check for knowledge but also help develop witness and testimony and encourage creative sharing of that testimony.
The important goals of catechesis which are stated in the Directory for Catechesis are found in most catechetical curricula. Another powerful and necessary goal is encouraging young people to develop faith-based relationships. It is vital for young people to grow and mature in their faith not just as individuals but also in relationships and ultimately in community with other believers.
A current catechetical program must be kerygmatic, flexible, and focused on missionary discipleship. Evaluating your catechetical curriculum for these features with the help of the suggestions from Steve and Deacon Matt in episode 10 will ensure that your program is effective and impactful for today’s students and families. Interested in a program that is kerygmatic, flexible, and focuses on missionary discipleship? Check out Christ In Us!
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