September 16, 2005

2005 Religious Education Supplement

Symposium to introduce new
National Directory for Catechesis

By Sean Gallagher

Later this month, a symposium will be held in Indianapolis for all pastors, parish life coordinators, parish administrators of religious education, school principals and other pastoral leaders to learn about the National Directory for Catechesis ( NDC).

The NDC is a document produced over the past several years by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catechesis, headed by Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein. It was approved by the Vatican in January.

It explains the main principles which underlie Catholic religious education, explores how these principles are to be applied in the particular American cultural context and discusses various catechetical methodologies that flow from the principles.

At the Sept. 26 symposium at the Primo South banquet facility in Indianapolis, Msgr. Daniel Kutys, deputy secretary for catechesis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be the keynote speaker.

In a recent telephone interview, Msgr. Kutys, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, noted that the document is primarily directed to priests and lay catechetical leaders. Still, he said that it has a relevant message for all Catholics: that everyone in the Church is to be involved in teaching the faith.

“Everybody has a catechetical responsibility,” he said. “Everyone does. It’s not just the responsibility of the priest or the administrator of the school or the religious education program or the catechists. It’s the whole parish, the whole people of God that has a catechetical responsibility.”

Harry Dudley, associate executive director for faith formation in the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education, also said that the NDC will help all Catholics in the United States address confusion about various aspects of the faith.

“I think there is concern among average Catholics about how much misunderstanding there is about the Catholic faith in the United States, both among Catholics and in the general society,” he said. “And so this document can help us as a Church to respond to the misunderstandings both within and outside the Church. It will have a lot of meaning for us.”

Msgr. Kutys said he hopes that participants in the symposium will learn why and how the NDC came about, and its place and role in the life of the Church.

While Msgr. Kutys noted that the new document “simply brings together in one place a lot of the catechetical insight of the last 50 years,” he also said that it seeks to correct problems in Catholic catechesis that emerged in the first two decades following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

In particular, he said that the NDC emphasizes the divine origin of our beliefs, something that he remarked was given less attention 20 to 30 years ago.

“That’s a big concern of … the NDC, that when we teach [the faith], we need to teach it in a way that has the learner—the young person or the adult learner—aware that what we believe comes from God,” Msgr. Kutys said. “God has told us these truths.”

Dudley is in a good position to notice this change in emphasis. He worked on the staff that helped put together the last national directory that the U.S. bishops published in 1979.

“I think what happened in the past is we discovered the role of experience in living out the faith and helping us to understand the faith,” he said. “But I think in doing that, we almost emphasized experience to the exclusion of remembering the source of the revelation. So instead of experience helping us to interpret the faith, it’s the faith that helps us to interpret our experience.”

Dudley is looking forward to the symposium, but even more so to the positive impact that he hopes the NDC will have on religious education in the archdiocese.

“I think that if we look at this as a diocese, if we look at this as parishes, we’ll realize that there’s a lot that we’re doing that’s already good,” he said. “But I hope we bring a new energy to it and I hope we bring a new focus. And we also can get ideas as to what areas need change and reformation in the way we do catechesis. I think it calls us to look at it differently.” †


Local site Links: