That’s what I wanted to talk about in this article: the vocation of a catechist. As is the case pretty much every summer, some catechists move on to other ministries and vocations leaving the parish with a need for more catechists. This upcoming school year the parish is in need of catechists for various classes in middle school, junior high, and high school.
This isn’t a bad thing by any means and neither is it unexpected. The vast majority of catechists are volunteers (or receive a small stipend per each class) who serve this ministry for the season of their life that God calls them to. Sometimes this season lasts just one school year and sometimes it lasts decades. But when God asks you to respond to his call he will open the doors to make it happen, and he will close doors when he wants you to serve someplace else. The parish’s need for catechists is a regular opportunity for you to ask God if he wants you to minister in this way, an opportunity to follow his will even in unexpected ways. So I wanted to explain to you what the vocation of catechist is and then practically what a catechist does here at Most Holy Trinity.
The vocation of catechists is both very simple and very profound. Our diocese describes a catechist this way:
“A Catechist in the Diocese of Lansing is one who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have the desire to teach and have responded to a call from God to participate in the Church’s mission to lead and encourage others to the same.”
In other words, a catechist is someone who has a personal relationship with Christ and a desire to invite others, specifically students, into a similar relationship. It’s that simple. A catechist doesn’t need a teaching degree or a theology degree. A catechist doesn’t need to be a daily Mass goer. And a catechist certainly doesn’t need to have all the answers - just leave those for me to answer when I visit the class :) Catechists are simply people who love Jesus, love to learn about Jesus, and have been called by God to share that love with others.
So what does this look at here at MHT? If someone feels called by God to be a catechist, or if someone is curious and just wants to know more about what being a catechist looks like, they contact me and we set up a time to meet. At the meeting I ask about why the person is interested in this ministry, I ask about their relationship with God, and I explain all the details and answer any questions about religious ed. We have textbooks and other resources for catechists to use in class. We have regular catechetical formation opportunities for catechist to continue learning about the faith and to ask the questions they have. We will have opportunities to go on catechists retreats. And we do our best to pair up new catechists with one or two other people so that the strengths and talents of a team overcome the fears and weaknesses of individuals.
If you feel God tugging at your heart as you are reading this, or if you have felt a desire to be a catechist in the past, please take that to prayer and sincerely ask God what he wants you to do. If you still think that God is asking you to consider this ministry then please reach out to me and we will talk about what to do next. My job isn’t to recruit people to fill a need, rather it’s to help people see where God is calling them and how they can best respond. As Father Dennis often says, we don’t call ourselves to a ministry. Jesus, through the Church, calls us. Responding to God and living out the vocations he has called us too is how we truly live a joyful and fulfilled life and how the Love of God reaches the hearts and minds of all people.