September 30, 2005

Archdiocese holds symposium on
National Directory for Catechesis

By Sean Gallagher

Building on the insights of the last half century, Catholic religious education is moving forward, continually striving to find effective methods to pass on the content of the faith.

This was the message that Msgr. Daniel Kutys, deputy secretary for catechesis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered to approximately 200 pastors, parish life coordinators, parish administrators of religious education, principals and other pastoral leaders at the first of a series of archdiocesan symposia to introduce the new National Directory for Catechesis on Sept. 26 at the Primo South banquet facility in Indianapolis.

For much of his address, Msgr. Kutys explained how the new national directory builds upon the teaching documents on catechesis issued both by the Holy See and by the U.S. bishops since the close of the Second Vatican Council.

As he was concluding his remarks, Msgr. Kutys referred to Religious Education at the Crossroads by Francoise Darcy-Berube, a book published 10 years ago, shortly after the American publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“Today, thanks to how the catechism has been received and implemented and used, and also thanks to the renewed catechetical effort as represented by the national directory, I think we’re through the crossroads,” he said. “I think we’re on the way and moving further along to create a Church which has a holier, participating and witnessing evangelizing vector, a way that is making the Church in the United States much richer.”

But as those present were invited to look forward to a bright future for religious education, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein encouraged them to look to the past for inspiration in their catechetical ministry.

“I want to propose Bishop [Simon] Bruté as a great model for all of us who are involved in faith formation, in teaching the faith and in catechesis,” he said. “Bishop Bruté was an outstanding theologian. He was considered the most important theologian at the Baltimore councils. He was a great teacher. He was a seminary teacher. But he was also a great pastor and a holy man.”

Bishop Bruté was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, which became the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The Cause for Canonization of Bishop Bruté was opened on Sept. 12.

Now that the U.S. bishops have published the National Directory for Catechesis, it is the task of pastoral, catechetical and Catholic school leaders across the country to implement it where they minister.

Many who attended the Sept. 26 symposium had this in mind, seeking insights as to how the document can have a positive impact upon the average Catholic.

Darlene Davis, the chairperson of the archdiocesan Adult Catechetical Team and a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield, commented on this as she arrived for the event.

“I think the more we know about what the bishops want from us and the more that we can articulate the vision [of catechesis] that the bishops have, the better we’re going to be able to minister in our parishes,” she said.

An important part of the bishops’ catechetical vision that Msgr. Kutys addressed in his remarks was their desire to balance the attention given in religious education between the content of the faith and the way in which it is passed on.

Archbishop Buechlein, who is the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Catechesis that oversaw the writing of the national directory, spoke about this during a break in the symposium.

“I think the new National Directory for Catechesis … will help us to achieve the balance that we need between content and methodology,” he said. “That’s tremendously important.”

Archbishop Buechlein is an established national leader in Catholic religious education.

Kenna Brewer is just taking her first steps into catechetical ministry as an apprentice in the University of Notre Dame’s Echo Program at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

But she recognized the need for this balance in religious education and saw much in the symposium that can have a positive impact upon the members of St. Monica Parish.

“I think that the fact that we can equip ourselves as ministers and leaders of catechesis [will help them] experience it in the way that we can revise our programs, and kind of re-visit our pedagogical methods and especially look toward bringing out more of the content of catechesis,” Brewer said.

Many other archdiocesan catechetical leaders explored the effect that the National Directory for Catechesis can have on those whom they serve in an extensive question and answer period.

Among the issues raised were the role of catechesis in evangelization, ecumenical considerations in teaching the faith in a school setting and the importance of understanding religious education as a lifelong task for all Catholics. †


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