The United States has approximately 19,000 Roman Catholic parishes across the 50 states.  That means there are thousands of individuals who are helping lead, direct, coordinate and carry out the ministry of catechesis here in the United States.  This is no small endeavor.  Over the next few months I will be exploring the call and responsibilities of those who have a leadership position in the catechetical ministry of their parish, especially when it pertains to the religious formation/education of adults, youth and most specifically and commonly, children.

The National Directory for Catechesis is very clear on the importance of the leadership of those who are carrying out the ministry of catechesis which is first and foremost the Bishop of a diocese and secondarily the pastor of a specific parish.  Over the last few decades pastors have commissioned qualified (and at times not so qualified) individuals to assist in this apostolic work.

According to the National Directory for Catechesis, “The single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the leadership of a professionally trained parish catechetical leader” (pg. 224).  It goes on to stress the importance of having “a competent and qualified catechetical leader”.  What are the things that are foundational to a catechetical leader, often called a Director or Coordinator of Religious Education?

Here is a list below of what the NDC considers foundational to the individuals who carry out the work of catechesis in the parish and a what I will be covering in my series over the next few months:

~ The importance of the academic and spiritual formation of Catechetical Leaders who are catechist’s themselves as well as the one’s responsible for equipping and forming volunteer catechists in the parish.

~ How the catechetical leader carries out his/her responsibility of giving the overall direction of the parish catechetical program.

~ The importance of planning, implementing and evaluating the program you are responsible for.

~ The role of recruiting catechists and providing initial and ongoing formation for them.

~ Implementing diocesan and parish catechetical policies and guidelines.

~ The importance of collaborating with the pastor, other parish ministries as well as boards, committees and councils.

~ How a catechetical leader plays a role in the liturgical planning of the parish.

~ The need to give time and attention to ones own personal, spiritual and professional development.


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