By Natashya Fernandez
The Church today is a communion of people who teach the truth, said Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton on the occasion of the annual commissioning Mass for Catechists at St Michael the Archangel Chapel in Leederville.
“They propose the truth rather than impose it and this, I think, would be the key principle in our teaching, our preaching, our guidance of people in their lives,” Bishop Sproxton said.
The Mass, held on 11 October, was celebrated by Bishop Sproxton and concelebrated with 18 priests and two Deacons.
The annual event was attended by more than 200 people and celebrated the commissioning and blessing of 50 Catechists from three groups, including the Catechist Service, Personal Advocacy Service (PAS) and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Team Leader Catechist Service, Dr Pina Ford, who was involved in the organising and training for the Catechists, said that the annual event is an occasion for these three groups to celebrate the achievements of those who had attained important milestones in their formation and their journey as Catechists.
“The Mass in thanksgiving for the work of Catechists who support the parish religious education for children who do not attend Catholic schools and Catechists who support adults with intellectual disabilities, has been a yearly event for over 30 years,” Dr Ford explained.
“In more recent years, RCIA Catechists have also been included due to collaboration with the Catechist Service in adult faith formation,” she said.
Dr Ford also noted that the Catechists share a common commitment to the catechetical ministry, and seek to bring the light of Christ that they have known, into the lives of others and into the world.
“It is a pleasure to be united in this way, and to give thanks to God and celebrate with everyone, beyond the boundaries of our own parishes,” Dr Ford said.
Newly commissioned Catechist and member of the Catechist Service, Catherine Nguyen, said that being a Catechist is a way that she can answer Jesus’ call to believe in, and proclaim the Gospel message.
“It is a deeply enriching ministry, and one that also enriches the lives of the children I teach. I hope that I can help children to deepen and grow in their faith. My own faith journey has come alive in a way that I didn’t expect,” she added.
In his homily for the occasion, Bishop Sproxton told the story of a young man he prepared for marriage whose faith had come alive through witnessing the prayerful commitment and loving service of a teacher while at school.
“The light of the teacher’s faith shone so brightly that it influenced the rest of his life,” Bishop Sproxton said.
And, as the Church, we are proposing the truth because we know the truth and understand that it comes through Jesus Christ, he said to the Catechists.
“We must allow the spirit of God to work in the hearts of those to whom we address it. We pray that they see our gentleness, compassion, our sense of service – these are things that are important for our young people when they notice them in us,” he said.
“They will approach this truth in Jesus with openness, if they can see the goodness and the deep values in Christ. It can bring about a conversion of heart.
“It begins to take us on a journey towards that point where we discover true freedom, and may even discover true forgiveness,” Bishop Sproxton concluded.