Got Formation?

Recently I was looking over some catechist evaluations from last year and I came upon some comments from a few catechists who shared that the Catechist In-Service our parish provided was not necessary for them since they had been teaching for a number of years.  Granted this could be because of what was covered at the in-service, but I think it had more to do with an attitude that they are just fine where they are at.  In Part II of my discussion of catechist formation I would like to expand on the importance of ongoing formation for catechists.

Effective Catechesis

The opening sentence of the NDC under “Ongoing Formation of Catechists”, says: “Since effective catechesis depends on virtuous and skilled catechists, their ongoing formation should enhance the human, spiritual, and apostolic qualities and catechetical skills they bring to their ministry” (pg. 238).   Effective catechesis must include and foster human, spiritual and apostolic qualities in addition to the development of various teaching skills.


I find that there is a great desire for pragmatism today in our society.  Even in the Church, catechists want skills, skills, and more skills to “do” better catechesis and help their students “do” better at living the faith.  Yes, it is important to help increase the skills of catechists and rightly so in a time where our parents and grandparents mode of learning is predominately unsuccessful.  Ongoing formation must continually strive to equip catechists with various skills so that they can hone their natural talents and develop other skills that don’t come as natural to them.  However, the NDC also mentions the often forgotten component – the spiritual formation of catechists.  This is the most under appreciated component of formation offered to catechists’ today.  There are a number of factors to explain why that is, but suffice it to say, there exists a temptation to pass on the secular notion of forming those who teach.   There is a great need to make sure catechetical leaders are helping catechists see “the one thing necessary” – life in Christ (Cf. Lk. 10:42).  Assisting catechist to develop a life of virtue is vital as they witness their love for Christ and His Church to those they serve.

All Aspects of the Catechist’s Life

The NDC emphasis the need for ongoing formation of catechists that includes “all aspects of the catechist’s life”.  It speaks of the human, spiritual and intellectual levels that need to be developed in the life of catechists (see pages 239-240).   In order for a catechist to grow and continue to be formed they must be provided an integrated formation which assists them as they themselves grow and develop as a person, as a disciple of Jesus and as a faith-filled Catholic.


Here are a few ways to assist catechists in their ongoing formation:

~ Promote the reading of spiritual books and CD’s (especially regarding aspects on the spiritual life).

~ Always encourage them to grow in their spiritual lives.

~ Provide retreats, evenings of reflection, and opportunities for spiritual growth.

~ Help link the importance of how the saints and holy men and women relied on the reservoir they had through a life of prayer.  The success of the saints was not as much in the personal skills they possessed, but in their authentic witness of life that truly inspired those who encountered them.

Catechist Formation – Part I