HAMMONTON — In front of the 57 parish catechetical leaders here on Sept. 18 at St. Anthony Church, St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish, Bishop Dennis Sullivan called them to “re-propose the truth of the Gospel” to their communities. He also encouraged an increased outreach to Latino families.
Bishop Sullivan addressed the catechists during a brunch meeting two days before Catechetical Sunday, where he commissioned the leaders at Christ the Good Shepherd Parish in Vineland.
After encouraging them in their work, he noted that catechists should inform, form, and transform. In passing on the teachings of the church, they are informing. In showing the beauty of the faith, through such avenues as art history and literature, they are forming. And, through the work of grace and the holy spirit, their students are transformed.
What they should teach, Bishop Sullivan made clear. “I am the chief catechist; you are on my passport,” he said. “I share (the faith and its teachings) with the pastors, who share it (with you).”
The Camden leader lamented the fact that some parents, who are called to be the primary teachers of the Catholic faith to their children, do not know and do not practice their faith.
“We need to go out and re-propose the truth of the Gospel to the under-evangelized, who have a lack of understanding,” he said.
Bishop Sullivan also called for a better outreach to Catholic Latino immigrants and their families. “They’re not going back” to where they came from, he said.
His audience was pleased to interact with him and hear his words.
“His talk was a real shot in the arm,” said Deb Smaldore, coordinator of religious education at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights.
“The bishop’s passion for catechesis, and our Lord, came through so clearly, along with his exhortation for us to be the best we can be in the minds and hearts of the church, to understand the tradition we serve.”
Bishop Sullivan “recognized the catechists’ essential importance to their parish ministry,” said Sister Kathy Burton, co-director of the diocesan Office of Lifelong Faith Formation.
“He laid out a clear framework for them and challenged them,” she said.