My Dear Friends,
Today we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. All of our wonderful catechists, along with the teachers from our school, will be commissioned this weekend as they begin a new school year. It truly is a vocation to be a catechist especially when it comes to instructing our children. The catechist has to be a joyful herald of the gospel to present to our young people a message that contradicts everything they are learning on their phones and tablets.
While we may be commissioning those who formally teach and catechize our children, all of us share a responsibility in the sharing the Good News. The Greek word “kerygma” is used often when the Church’s refers to catechists because “kerygma” basically means proclamation. But this proclamation warrants a response from us. How can we not respond to the life altering news that comes from a herald of the Gospel?
Last year, the Pope’s Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador) to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, addressed our nation’s bishops with these words:
“The kerygma — the proclamation of the Good News — is not a ‘traditional’ custom or a certain ‘social practice.’ The kerygma is the joyful announcement that Jesus Christ is a living Person to be encountered, who through his Resurrection has defeated sin and death.”(USCCB Nuncio Address, 6/26/21)
One of the challenges that our catechists face is engaging our young people with the joy of the gospel so that they may encounter the living Christ not simply hearing about him. If not, CCD class turns into nothing more than a boring history lesson of what Jesus said and not something that needs a response after encountering Christ. This year, following the National Eucharistic Revival, the theme for this Catechetical Sunday is “This is my body given for you,” taken from Luke’s gospel (22:19). The Eucharist must be the point of encounter for all our catechists and for all the children receiving catechetical instruction through our Religious Education program and our school. This is where the kerygma comes to life, quite literally, at the altar in the Breaking of the Bread.
Today we are also beginning a new tradition in our parish, or taking it back up if it existed before, of passing the Vocations Chalice from home to home so that our families may pray for more vocations to the priesthood. This practice of praying fervently for vocations is so essential to us as Catholics. Put simply: we need priests. It’s been more than five years since our second parochial vicar was transferred and that second vicar has not been replaced. When Father Andrew came to us, his former parish did not receive a priest to replace him. Therefore, there is an urgency to our prayers. We need men of courage and conviction to preach the kerygma boldly. We need priests who will show us the living Christ especially when we receive the sacraments. So today I invite you and your family to sign up to receive the Vocations Chalice. I have asked Father Andrew to facilitate this program, and he already has a group of families signed up for the first month or two. We will be presenting this chalice to a family at Mass every week, and they in turn bring it back the following Sunday so that another family can take it home. But even if we don’t have the chalice physically in our homes, please pray for vocations. I am grateful that I have a parochial vicar and three “in resident” priests (which is a rarity), but I pray that neither I nor any of my successors ever be left alone to tend to such a vibrant parish by themselves. So please, pray to our Lord, the Divine Harvest Master, to send more laborers to be priests! .
God bless you all,