A Catechist is a layperson specially appointed by the Church, in accordance with the local needs, to make Christ known, loved, and followed by those who do not yet know him and by the faithful themselves.
All those entrusted with the vital task of catechesis are called catechists. It must be clarified at this juncture that catechesis is not just like catechism thus instructing of children in class for baptism, communion and confirmation. Therefore, catechists are not just a small group of people working in a parish. There are a number of people referred to as catechists in order of the roles they play in the efforts of making the Kingdom of God manifest.
A catechist is a specialized worker in the vineyard of Christ, direct witness, indispensable evangelizer, who represents the basic strength of Christian communities. These lay members of Christ’s faithful who have received proper formation and are outstanding in their living of Christian life. Under the direction of the pastors, they are to present the Gospel teaching and engage in liturgical worship and in works of charity.
THE ROLE OF A CATECHIST
The role of a catechist is many-sided. Apart from the explicit proclamation of the Christian message and the accompaniment of catechumens and the newly baptized Christians on their road to full maturity in the faith and in the sacramental life, the Catechist’s role comprises presence and witness, and involvement in human development, inculturation and dialogue.
The catechist is entrusted in accordance with the canonical norms, certain functions of the sacred ministry that do not require the character of Holy orders. However, a Catechist is not a simple substitute for the priest, but is by right, a witness of Christ in the community.
Some tasks of a catechist at Consolata Shrine include; Specific task of Catechechizing young people and adults in faith, preparing candidates and families for the sacraments of Christian initiation. He is responsible in helping with recollection and other meetings in connected with catechesis. Catechists’ collaborate in different forms of Apostolate with Ordained ministers, e.g., preaching to non-Christians, Catechizing catechumens and those already baptized; leading community prayer, helping the sick and presiding at funerals; guiding volunteer catechists in their work. He also takes charge of pastoral initiatives and organizing parish functions.
The catechist is also involved in preparing couples for the sacrament of Matrimony. The couples who are already married are invited to seminars on how to enrich their marriage. The catechist as a leader shows the way for others to follow. He points the direction for other leaders to follow.
So many times it has fallen on the catechist to strengthen and build up the young communities, and even to find new ones through the first proclamation of the Gospel. It is a challenging responsibility but we thank the Lord for this vocation and with full conviction that our names will be written in heaven. (Luke 10:20).
By Sammy Kakai
Catechists Consolata Shrine