HADDON TOWNSHIP — Prayerful. Prepared. Compassionate. Enthusiastic.
These are all the qualities of effective catechists, according to Dr. Saundra Kennedy, the keynote speaker at the Camden Diocesan Cathechetical Convocation, held here at Paul VI High School on Sept. 17.
Currently the regional vice president for sales with FACTS Tuition Management Company, she works with Catholic schools and faith-based schools in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Over 500 parish and school catechists took part in a day designed to help them “Know, Love, and Serve” others, becoming the best they can be as heralds of the Good News.
“We share in the missionary activity of our Catholic Church,” stressed Dr. Kennedy.
She added that catechists must be committed to their ministry, emphasizing the importance of a devoted prayer life, preparedness in their work, compassion for their students and enthusiasm in the classroom.
“Our lives must reflect what we teach, and we have to be people who bring hope” to students, she said.
Before the keynote in the school auditorium, Bishop Dennis Sullivan affirmed the work of the men and women in front of him, and cautioned against the “obstacles of culture, music, violence, and breakdown in family life” — what he called “seducers” — that “choke off the seed for others to hear God’s word,” and make their work challenging, but even more important.
“May the living Christ be known, loved and served,” he said.
Rebecca Barnes, a fourth grade religious education teacher at Haddon Height’s Saint Rose of Lima Parish, found Dr. Kennedy’s words “inspiring.”
“She touched on ideas relatable to both new and experienced catechists,” she said.
“We (catechists) felt supported,” said Kristen Zielinski-Nalen, parish catechetical leader at Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden.
After the keynote, Barnes and Zielinski-Nalen and other catechists took in educational workshops ranging from “The Word Alive: Using Bible Movies” to “All Are Welcome: Inclusion for Families with Special Needs,” with presenters focused on helping participants more faithfully execute their mission.
Sister Kathleen Burton, SSJ, co-director of the Office of Faith and Family Life for the Diocese of Camden, called the day a “success, bringing renewed energy and enthusiasm to the ministry of catechesis.”