From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Spokane Diocese participates in national consultations on catechetics, adult catechism

the Inland Register

(From the March 22, 2001 edition of the Inland Register

In 1971, six years after the close of the Council, the Holy See published the first General Catechetical Directory, laying out a new approach to catechesis. Over the next 25 years, there were rapid developments rooted in Vatican II directives. This Directory and its new approach provided the inspiration for the development of much of today’s parish and adult catechesis, as well as for renewal in religious education.

That directory was replaced in 1997. The revised Directory was prompted by the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The new Directory is an essential partner and guide to the Catechism. It provides a summary of catechetical development since the issuance of the first Directory in 1971 and will shape future efforts to pass on the faith

It is based on the teaching of Vatican II, but also draws in the perspectives of such documents as Catechesi Tradendae, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio and others. It presents catechesis as an aspect of evangelizing and therefore highlights its close relationship to the proclamation of the Gospel. It places great importance on the ministry of catechists and on the formation of those catechists.

It is built around the centrality of adult catechesis and lays out clearly how the catechu-menate, or RCIA process, is the model for all catechesis.

It emphasizes that catechesis always has an initiatory dimension: in other words, even for those who are baptized and active there is always a deeper conversion possible which catechesis serves.

It is particularly strong on the relationship between catechesis and the cultures which shape the lives and mentalities of people today.

It explains the communal, ecclesial dimension of catechesis and the different roles within catechesis of parents, priests, bishops, lay catechists and Religious.

There is frequent emphasis on the integral importance of social teaching within catechesis, and the importance of catechesis arousing an option for the poor.

The new Directory also emphasizes the need for adaptation, the creativity of local churches and development of local catechisms. When the Catechism of the Catholic Church was released, Pope John Paul II noted in Fidei Depositum that the universal Catechism is intended to encourage and assist in the writing of local catechism. This call appears again strongly in the General Directory for Catechesis.

The U.S. bishops approved the development of a National Adult Catechism. That work’s goal is to present the teachings of the Church as they apply to the reality of life and culture in the United States.

A group of priests, deacons, and religious educators from every arch(diocese) has been asked to reflect on how each chapter will be approached, a chapter-by-chapter draft outline, and respond to these. The responses will be sent to the bishops’ editorial board for the adult catechism.

Both the 1971 and 1997 Directories say that national conferences of bishops should prepare local directories to deal with specific issues/concerns within their own regions. In 1977, the first National Catechetical Directory, Sharing the Light of Faith, was approved by the American Bishops.

The bishops now have approved a new National Directory for Catechesis.

There are many reasons for its update. At least two major motivating factors would be the new General Directory for Catechesis and The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The update also will respond to the ways the church has adapted to changing times and culture.

Another consultation is taking place in this country. A group in the Spokane Diocese knowledgeable about catechesis met at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center last month to respond to the proposed framework for the new national Directory. The Parish Services Office will collate these responses and forward them to the United States Catholic Conference’s Department of Education.

The first draft of the document will be available for further consultation at this time next year.


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