Before we begin, I want to clarify the definition of the following words. These definitions will help you as you read this introductory post and prepare for the webinar on October 1.
Kerygma: the very heart of the Gospel, the core message of the Christian faith that all believers are called to proclaim
Catechesis: from the Greek, catechesis means “oral instruction,” or we can use the definition from the General Directory for Catechesis, “to make echo”
Hispanic: People born and living in United States, and for cultural sensitivity we need to clarify that not all Latinos are Mexican! Our origins are from many Latin-American countries, such as Peru, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, and so on
Spirituality: the Christian way of living in this world according Jesus Christ’s teachings and way of living
Talking about catechesis and spirituality in the Hispanic community is very simple if you let Jesus to talk to each and every person in the community through you. With these definitions, let’s begin!
For parishes within the United States, catechesis for and in the Hispanic community can be a little different from traditional Religious Education programs. Hispanics are looking for sacraments and not necessarily lifelong formation!
After children celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation, parishes have a big opportunity to provide lifelong formation to the entire family.
Catechetical leadership needs to keep in mind that Hispanics are more connected with associations or ministries in the parish; they enjoy learning in a group! So, if there are ministries in your parish community, there is a great opportunity to start providing weekly, biweekly or monthly formation. These ministries might include the choir, youth ministry, young adults, or altar service. Or they might become part of the associations or devotional groups: Eucharistic Adoration for men, women, young men and young women or Adoración Nocturna (called here in United States adoración nocturna Mexicana or adoration nocturma Americana), singing together in the charismatic renewal, or in the posadas.
To provide faith formation in this context, I am presenting to you a sample “regular schedule” that you can follow in every gathering. This is called the Peace Circles Model.
When you follow this schedule, please, remember that mechanical gatherings are boring. You must know and see how every member of the group is walking in. In every meeting bring something NEW to the gathering.
People can read you! People can feel you! To make authentic connections, people must feel you are a transparent, honest and loving person. In other words, you must let Jesus Christ live in you! You can look at them, ask one by one: “How are you doing today? What do you need?”
To make authentic connections, people must feel you are a transparent, honest and loving person. In other words, you must let Jesus Christ live in you!
If you take this approach, you can catechize in a very simple and easy way. Your community will come to learn and will want to attend every meeting because they see God through you!
Many of our brothers and sisters might know about Jesus Christ, but they don’t know who Jesus Christ is! Then, our missionary work starts from the beginning. Start by introducing Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary. By simply making the sign of the cross (speaking loudly and making a big cross on your body) you will reach others. They will follow you!
Use the kerygma—the first message of salvation, but the permanent message of love!
Using music in meetings helps the Holy Spirit work in you the catechist, and in the brothers and sisters you are ministering to. During a gathering make time to sing a nice and traditional song that will help people connect what you are saying with what they are singing. A song will speak to their hearts!
The Kerygma, Catechesis, and Hispanic Ministry Tip Sheet offers a three-step process for breaking free of traditional methodologies to help you get to know your community, be invitational, and share the message of the kerygma. Download it now!
When you bring these suggestions together and put them into practice in your parish, catechesis and spirituality can be one and your community will start walking with you. Now is the time to begin!
Only God knows why I received this invitation and why I accepted to present this webinar: God wants me to share with you what I have learned in the last 31 years. I encourage you to be the pencil that God can use to writes whatever He wants! Join me on October 1.
Javier Castillo, OLF, is the Lifelong Formation Coordinator assigned to vicariate IV within the Archdiocese of Chicago. His priority is to be integrated in the culture of each individual vicariate to have a deep understanding of each vicariate’s strengths and opportunities for growth. He has worked at the diocesan level for the last 7 years.