It was refreshing to read Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ words about catechesis for young people. He said we need to transmit to them the “full sweep” of the Catholic Faith. Thank you Archbishop 🙂 I couldn’t agree more.
When are young people supposed to receive this “full sweep” of catechesis? In the past, it’s been left to schools, and this is clearly not enough. In reality, catechesis is only received by our young people when they are preparing to receive a sacrament. This culture and mentality within parishes and families (catechesis-is-for-sacraments) is part of the reason why young people do not receive a “full sweep”, that is, the full Deposit of the Faith.
This is a real deficiency. In our own parish, although we do have catechesis for all age groups, because this is not taken up by many families, it means that we snatch the opportunity at First Communion preparation and Confirmation preparation to hand over (traditio – this is what catechesis does) the full Deposit of Faith.
It would not be a Confirmation parents’ evening without someone piping up and asking, “Why do we have a full year’s preparation when such-and-such a parish has only six weeks?” Sorry, but such-and-such a parish is not fulfilling its canonical obligations to give a full catechesis. Unless I am missing something and all those teenagers are receiving formation elsewhere? No, didn’t think so.
I recognise, though, that our situation is not ideal. If these teenagers were receiving weekly catechesis as a matter of course through their lives, preparation for Confirmation would focus purely on the sacrament – teaching to the rite, explaining the meaning of the prayer the Bishop prays over them, the anointing.
I agree 100% with Archbishop Nichols. For it to become a reality, a culture change within parishes and families needs to gradually take place. I don’t want to say this is impossible. I wonder to myself what would happen if we announced one day that all families would have to commit to regular catechesis for their children from 7 until their teens, if they want them to prepare for sacraments. I know, I know, there would be an exodus from our parish of biblical proportions and we would be left with a tiny remnant of around three children to catechise. Hmm… so how do we do this?