For Pope Francis, what does it mean to be a catechist?
In the last Pope Video of 2021, Pope Francis centers his message on the ministry, mission and vocation of catechists, thanking them for their enthusiasm for transmitting the faith, and encouraging them to proclaim the Gospel with new languages and in new ways.
(Vatican City, November 30th, 2021) – In the new Pope Video, Francis entrusts to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network his prayer intention with which he chooses to end the year. In this month of December, the Holy Father dedicates his message to catechists, recognizing their work as an authentic mission and ministry at the service of the mission of the Church. The Pope points out that it’s truly a vocation, since “being a catechist means that you ‘are a catechist,’ not that you ‘work as a catechist.’”
In these times when the world is undergoing many changes, Francis expresses his gratitude for the enthusiasm of those baptized people who transmit the faith with constant effort and joy. At the same time, he encourages them to continue proclaiming the Gospel “with their life, with gentleness, with a new language, and opening new ways.”
An example of a new language for catechesis is found in The Pope Video for this month, which shows catechists and young people working together on a mural. With spray paint and buckets of paint, dozens of children and adolescents—accompanied by their catechists—help Italian artist Paolo Colasanti (whose artistic name is Gojo) to produce a creative rendition of the scene of the washing of the feet, on a wall of the youth center at the Roman parish of Our Lady of Coromoto.
The catechist: a very ancient ministry?
In May of this year, Francis had already made great gestures towards catechists by instituting their lay ministry with the Motu Proprio Antiquum ministerium. As 2021 draws to a close, the Holy Father is ratifying this form of service, which has continued throughout the history of the Church and which, he explains, is “a vocation; it’s a mission.” Still today, he explains in The Pope Video, we can see how “in many dioceses, on many continents, evangelization is fundamentally in the hands of a catechist.” For this reason, “we need good catechists who are both companions and teachers.”
Being a catechist, the Holy Father teaches, is not a job; rather, it’s about teaching patiently, accompanying, proclaiming the joy of the Gospel “not with a loudspeaker” but with one’s own life, with gentleness, with courage and creativity.
New ways, new languages
Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented on this intention: “Francis dedicating this last message to catechists in the same year in which he instituted their lay ministry and in which the synodal journey began ‘as the pilgrim and missionary People of God’ is an eloquent gesture. As the preparatory document of the 16th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops says, the Holy Spirit, today as yesterday, continues to act in history: ‘It is precisely in the furrows dug by the sufferings of every kind endured by the human family and by the People of God that new languages of faith and new paths are flourishing, capable (…) of finding in trials the reasons for refounding the path of Christian and ecclesial life. (…) The recent institution of the lay ministry of Catechist and the opening of access to those of Lector and Acolyte to women also move in this direction’ (No. 7). Let us pray, then, ‘for the catechists, summoned to announce the Word of God: may they be its witnesses, with courage and creativity and in the power of the Holy Spirit.’”
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About The Pope Video
The Pope Video is an official global initiative with the purpose of disseminating the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intentions. It is carried out by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). Since the year 2016, The Pope Video has had more than 165 million views across all its social networks, and is translated into more than 23 languages, receiving press coverage in 114 countries. The videos are produced and created by the team of The Pope Video of the Prayer Network, coordinated by Andrea Sarubbi, with the support of La Machi Communication for Good Causes agency. The project is supported by Vatican Media. More information at: thepopevideo.org
About the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network is a Vatican foundation, with the mission of mobilizing Catholics through prayer and action in response to the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church. These challenges are presented in the form of prayer intentions entrusted by the Pope to the entire Church. The foundation’s mission is inscribed in the dynamic of the Heart of Jesus, a mission of compassion for the world. It was founded in 1844 as the Apostleship of Prayer. It is present in 89 countries and is made up of more than 22 million Catholics. It includes a youth branch, the EYM: Eucharistic Youth Movement. In December 2020, the Pope constituted this pontifical work as a Vatican foundation and approved its new statutes. Its international director is Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ. For more information, visit: www.popesprayer.va
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