As part of a 1935 initiative to recognize and celebrate the gift that catechists give to their parish communities by volunteering their time for the education of children, the Church began what we know today as Catechetical Sunday. Catechetical Sunday always takes place the third Sunday in September. This year Catechetical Sunday will fall on September 16, 2018. Enhance your celebrations with an exclusive Catechetical Sunday Toolkit in English or Spanish.
Who Do We Celebrate On Catechetical Sunday?
All those who teach the Catholic faith and share the Church’s teachings are catechists. Individuals who teach others about Jesus by the way they live are catechizing, too. On Catechetical Sunday, we come together as both a parish and Church community to acknowledge the dedication of those who serve as catechists in our parish family. On Catechetical Sunday, parents and guardians are also honored because they are the true first catechists, sharing the Catholic faith with their families. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all Catholics to rededicate themselves to the mission of handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel as a community of faith. The day provides an opportunity for us to consider ways we are witnesses for Jesus Christ ourselves.
What Is This Year’s Theme?
Each year, Catechetical Sunday has a theme. During 2018 and 2019, Catechetical Sunday will explore the theme “Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ.” A growing percentage of the adult population of the United States self identifies as “nones,” a term used for people with no religious affiliation. As a theme, “Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ” will both research this trend and provide as examples the work of missionary disciples who are already engaged as witnesses for Jesus Christ.
This year and next year will focus on the actions required to activate the faithful as missionary disciples who are witnesses for Jesus Christ. In the Bishop’s 2018 Catechetical Sunday Welcome Message, Bishop Robert Barron, the Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, writes, “we will become more familiar with terms like ‘accompanying’, ‘evangelizing’ and ‘catechizing’. We will learn how to assist folks in exploring the reasonableness of the Faith, having an ‘encounter’ with Jesus, sharing in a deeper faith experience, and drawing out the meaning of those experiences for their lives.”
Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity to thank catechists for the work that they do. It is also an opportunity for catechists to reflect on their call to share and live out their faith. On Catechetical Sunday, catechists are called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. This Commissioning Service usually takes place at the Eucharistic liturgy on Catechetical Sunday. During the service, the catechists are introduced, and a special blessing of the catechists is prayed. Sometimes, the rite of blessing of catechists used on Catechetical Sunday includes a blessing of parents and guardians, too. After the blessing, catechists may be presented with a Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or a special certificate. The homily also provides a context for the celebration based on sacred text.
How Will You Celebrate Catechetical Sunday?
As part of your community’s celebration of Catechetical Sunday, seize the wonderful opportunity to prepare, pray, celebrate, and say “thank you” to those who serve as catechists and witnesses for Jesus Christ in your community! Share information about Catechetical Sunday, including its purpose and theme, with all the members of your community. In addition to the Commissioning Service, plan special events and initiatives for the parents and catechists who teach in the name of the Church.
Download an exclusive Catechetical Sunday 2018 Toolkit to bring these, and other, efforts to life for your Catechetical Sunday celebrations. In the 2018 toolkit, you will find:
An informative Catechetical Sunday Faith Fact, which can be shared with the families or adults in your religious education program. It contains suggestions for celebrating Catechetical Sunday in the school, parish, and home.
A Prayer for My Catechist Activity, which invites children to compose and decorate prayers for their catechists and parents.
Celebrating Catechetical Sunday eBook, which includes great ideas to help you celebrate Catechetical Sunday as a parish community and express gratitude to your catechists.
Prayer for a Catechist’s Soul Prayer Card, which can be shared with and prayed for catechists on Catechetical Sunday and always.