“Full Sweep” Youth Catechesis

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?

About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

3 responses to ““Full Sweep” Youth Catechesis

  • Fr Tom Smith

    3 well formed and catechised children might be a lot better the 10 or 20 who know just a bit!

  • One Timothy Three Fifteen

    Hmmmm. This issue is so close to my heart. The following is purely to add to the pot, rather than questions looking for answers…

    How much is conversion a factor? Is this what transforms it from catechesis (‘facts’) to formation (discipleship)? That is, for the converted is six weeks too short, and the unconverted, too long?

    A year certainly offers more opportunity for evangelisation. Are catechesis and evangelisation synonymous in this setting? Are the three well-formed and catechised likely to be the ones who attend Mass regularly anyway, as you intimate?

    Fr Ryan Erlenbush has posted something interesting on this today:
    “Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit necessary for salvation?”

    One of the ideas it seems we’ve ‘bought in to’, is that of the ‘commodification of Church’, or ‘Ecclesial Consumerism’, as Dr Bryan Cross calls it, and I think this is behind what you call ‘catechesis-is-for-sacraments’. That ‘church’ = provision of ‘services’ – a fundamentally Protestant notion. (Fr Benedict Groeschel laments the Mass being listed in local papers under ‘Religious Services’)

    Here’s his shorter article on it:
    “Consumerism and Ecclesial Relativism”

    Thank you so much for raising the subject and getting us thinking! I don’t feel so alone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: