AMERICA/CHILE - A "Church that goes forth" requires "catechists that go forth": ideas for a missionary catechesis

Wednesday, 29 May 2019 missionary animation   catechists   extraordinary missionary month  

Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - After many centuries of evangelization, "it is urgent to put catechesis on the path towards a profound renewal. As Pope Francis speaks of a "Church that goes forth", we can say that today it is necessary to have a "Catechesis that goes forth", writes Eduardo Valenzuela Magaña, Director of the National Commission for Catechesis of Chile, presenting the Day of the Catechist, on 1 June, which, inspired by the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019, will have as its theme "Catechists on mission".
The material for the celebration is available on the website of the Chilean Bishops Conference: in addition to the greeting of the President of the National Catechesis Commission, the Archbishop of Antofagasta, Mgr. Ignacio Ducasse Medina, and the introduction of Valenzuela Magaña, there are indications for the Mass, for a spiritual retreat, for the lectio divina, as well as some testimonies of catechists.
"The ultimate goal of catechesis is not to teach the contents in a conceptual/doctrinal sense, but to place them in communion with Jesus Christ - writes Valenzuela Magaña -. The teaching of Shepherds of the Church in recent years has accentuated the fact that faith does not arise from adherence to ideas, norms or ethics, but faith is born from the encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. If we place ourselves in this perspective, we will understand that catechesis is in a certain sense "missionary" because it seeks to favor the encounter with Jesus Christ. Catechetical projects must abandon the idea of structuring themselves according to the logic of contents in an encyclopedic way, to discover the vitality of faith and its natural progress".
The Church entrusts this mission to the catechist, who must not only transmit a content of faith, but the catechist is a witness of what he believes, testifies his encounter and the following of Jesus. "The catechist is a witness, a missionary disciple, a woman or man who trusts in love and who faithfully wants to live the announcement of the salvation he/she has received".
By proposing some points for reflection to carry out a "missionary catechesis", Valenzuela Magaña emphasizes that the topics that can be treated during catechesis meetings are many, but the catechist must not forget that "the Kerygma is the message that every catechist must share in every encounter: Jesus Christ loves you, he gave his life to save you, and now he is alive by your side every day, to enlighten you, to strengthen you, to free you (EG 164). This message must be repeated throughout catechesis and at every stage and moment".
In order to have a "Catechesis that goes forth", it is necessary first of all to "recognize in which places catechesis does not yet offer adequate answers to the needs of the community. It is not a question of thinking only or principally of sacramental catechesis, but rather of life situations to which today we do not offer an adequate catechetical itinerary: places and environments that urgently require catechetical pastoral assistance, such as the elderly, children, preadolescents, adults who are far from the Church, young couples, families with mine workers, the prison world, etc…"
A valid support for this type of catechesis can be offered by media and social media. "We continue to think that the only means are printed books. Today, if we do not know anything, we immediately surf the Internet or social networks (where Church members do not have sufficient active presence). There are also many diocesan radio stations that have enormous catechetical potential".
"Surely these tasks take us out of our comfort zones - he concludes - but it is necessary that catechesis reach new shores where the Gospel of the Lord has not yet arrived". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 29/5/2019)