New catechists program completed; local parish catechists honoured at launch
By Jamie O'Brien
The new Parish Religious Education program, Gathered in My Name, developed by the Catholic Education Western Australia Catechist Service, is finally complete.
Vicar of Education and Faith Formation, Fr Vincent Glynn, speaks about the importance of the ministry of the catechist, as expressed by Pope Francis during the launch of the new parish-based religious education program, Gathered in my Name, Thursday 4 November at the Catholic Education Office gardens. Photo: Michelle Tan.
The new program, launched at the Catholic Education Office outdoor gardens in front of more than 100 people, including local parish catechists and special guests on Thursday 4 November, derives its name from the Gospel of Matthew 18: 20: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.
Development of the new program was led by CEWA Catechist Services Team Leader, Dr Pina Ford, Catechist Services Consultants Stephen Harris, Catherine Nguyen and Field Officer Mildred Rego, together with Office of Christian Initiation Director, Dr Carmel Suart.
Launching the final year levels and sections of the program – the initial section was first launched in July 2016 by Archbishop Costelloe SDB – was Vicar for Education and Faith Formation, Fr Vincent Glynn, who spoke about the importance of the ministry of the catechist, as expressed by Pope Francis.
“Pope Francis has recently noted how teachers of the faith were present from the earliest days of the Christian community and were recognised as having a special gift of the Holy Spirit for carrying out their role within their community,” Fr Glynn said.
“The Holy Father acknowledged that in looking at the history of evangelisation, we cannot overlook the countless lay men and women who directly took part in the spread of the Gospel through catechetical instruction.
“These have been men and women of deep faith, authentic witnesses of holiness, who in some cases were also founders of churches and eventually died as martyrs,” he said.
Fr Glynn continued by highlighting that good catechesis is not just about knowing God, but about being introduced and developing a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
“Gathered in my Name provides that, in that it is sound pedagogically and theologically.
“I congratulate Catechist Services Team Leader Dr Pina Ford, Office of Christian Initiation Director Dr Carmel Suart and Catechist Services Team Consultants Stephen Harris, Catherine Nguyen and Field Services Officer Mildred Rego, for their writing and expertise,” Fr Glynn said.
Fr Glynn also thanked catechists from across the Archdiocese of Perth on behalf of Archbishop Costelloe for their dedication and commitment within their parish communities.
“They are doing a service of the Holy Spirit that is marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a dedication to the gospel,” Fr Glynn said.
CEWA Catechist Service Team Leader, Dr Pina Ford, said developing the program has been a great privilege and honour.
She especially paid tribute to the commitment and expertise of the two main writers, Dr Carmel Suart and Stephen Harris.
“This new program will help support our local parish catechists; they are leaders of the local Catholic community who evangelise, gather and guide their fellow Catholics in prayer and works of charity. They are an inspiration to us and encourage us to do our very best to serve their needs,” Dr Ford said.
“The completion of Gathered in my Name will help catechists to nurture the faith journey of those Catholic students who go to Government and Independent schools and to engage them in the parish community,” she said.
The new program is the mandated Parish Religious Education Program for the Archdiocese of Perth, having replaced the previous program, the Truth will set you free – as a teaching resource for Catechists. It is used in other WA dioceses and in some instances being accessed across Australia.
It has been developed with the aim of assisting parish-based catechists deliver religious education in a contemporary and accessible way to their students.
The year levels of Gathered in My Name consist of several modules, including Advent/Christmas, Baptism, Called into Friendship with God, Creation, Confirmation (Year Five and Six), Church, Eucharist, Jesus and Easter, Mary, Penance and Reconciliation, Prayer and Word.
The lessons themselves consist of an overview, extended background information for the Catechist, a Catechist Reflection, the Lesson, Activities and Worksheets (including special needs activities) and Lyrics to the songs introduced in each module.
The program has been compiled in such a way that Catechists who are not always trained teachers have everything they need to share their faith effectively.