We are now ready, after establishing that the role of a catechetical leader is a calling and how they are catechists first, to discuss the responsibility of the catechetical leader as they give the “overall direction of the parish catechetical programs for adults, youth and children (NDC pg. 225).

The responsibilities of catechetical leaders can vary greatly from parish to parish.  The DRE or CRE at one parish is only in charge of elementary school age children and possibly middle schoolers.  AT another parish the DRE/CRE lead both religious education and youth ministry.  Still other parishes have this same catechetical leader also lead RCIA.  Whatever your responsibilities, providing the overall direction is foundational to building the kind of program you believe will assist at accomplishing the mission of the Church in general and parish in particular.

3 important steps in carrying out the overall direction of the program(s) you lead:

1. Vision

It is essential to have a vision for how the program(s) you lead will accomplish desired objectives.  Everyone wants to help others grow closer to Jesus, but how can you and those who assist you accomplish this outcome?   Pope John Paul II spoke of the primary goal or aim of catechesis this way:

“The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul and also to contemporary theology, “the mystery of Christ.” Catechizing is in a way to lead a person to study this mystery in all its dimensions: ‘to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery…comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth …know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…(and be filled) with all the fullness of God'(Eph. 3:9, 18-19).  It is therefore to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God’s eternal design reaching fulfillment in that Person.(#5)”

He then says probably the most quoted line of the entire document: “Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity” (#5).

It is very important to list practical ways you hope to do this in your ministry.  Will you do this by helping catechists create better lesson plans and/or help them by providing articles that assist them in their spiritual growth?  Maybe its finding ways to concretely build and bring a greater awareness in your parish of the value of the program(s) you lead.

2. Communication

Recently my pastor said: “We over communicate and are under-informed”.  This being said, it is important to be purposeful when communicating with your catechists/volunteers, parents, and your staff.  The more those involved understand what to expect, what is going on and what is coming up the more they are able to help fulfill the vision and objectives of your ministry.  Communicating with the staff and the general parish about your ministry is important to help give them an understanding of why your particular program/ministry is working to fulfill the mission of the parish.  Examples of ways to communicate include but are not limited to: emails, the bulletin, personal conversations, and regular meetings.  Successfully communicating allows a catechetical to takes steps to fulfilling the overall direction of your program(s).

3. Evaluation

How is your program going?  Is it in need a a total over-haul, some renewal is certain areas (as if we don’t all need that on a yearly basis), or should it be eliminated.  Take the time to evaluate.  Evaluation can occur in two ways: 1) regularly assessing specific aspects of ministry (e.g., Are we returning people’s calls in a timely fashion?).  2) Quarterly or bi-annually (e.g., have catechists fill out evaluation forms in the middle of the year and at the end of the year.  Also, consider emailing a few questions out quarterly to get feedback from catechists, volunteers, or parents about how things are going.  Just be careful of only doing it once a year…I find it challenging to have your volunteers reflect on the whole year and get the valuable answers that you want.  Breaking it up can really help.  Evaluating your program(s) will allow you to continue to grow, impact others and keep you focused on what is most important in your ministry.

May you continue to grow as a catechetical leader in your ministry and as you help carry out the overall direction of your parish program(s).  What components are important in helping a catechetical leader bear fruit as they provide direction in their program(s)?