September 12, 2014

Religious Education Supplement

Good catechesis is substantial, relevant and missionary

Ken OgorekCatechesis is, in some ways, always the same, just as Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). The basic truths of our Catholic faith don’t reverse themselves.

Our teaching of the faith, though, can be adjusted at times in methodology and emphasis. On that note, I suggest three traits that catechesis needs to show clearly in southern and central Indiana at this time: Our catechetical efforts must be substantial, relevant and missionary.


A substantial effort has content—meat on the bones, lumber on the framework. Jesus—who wants to have a real, personal relationship with you—is a specific person with definite personality traits, likes, dislikes, etc.

Jesus has strong opinions about how we should live, pray, worship and love. Catechesis helps us get to know Jesus better and better—the real Jesus and not a poster-boy Jesus conjured by a special interest group in service of some unseemly agenda.


Just as catechesis must relate to our relationship with Jesus, it also must be relevant to our daily life.

Religion is becoming more and more compartmentalized in our culture, and catechists can succumb to the trap of delivering content without witnessing to why it matters.

What difference does this or that doctrine make in my life, the life of someone I know, a saint’s life, etc.? The power and beauty of truth are more or less powerful and beautiful, depending on how well the teacher also witnesses.


When we witness to our faith, we tend to communicate sincerity and enthusiasm.

The third word to describe catechesis of late—missionary—calls to mind the healthy enthusiasm that has motivated saints and Apostles throughout salvation history.

A missionary catechesis has a sense of urgency without a feeling of panic, because we have such a merciful Savior in Jesus. Our holy Redeemer guides us as we venture forth into areas of culture that need the light of truth and warmth of God’s love made clear in effective teaching of Catholic faith.

Jesus promised to be with us as we bring the light of faith to women and men throughout the archdiocese (Mt 28:20). He wants to be close to all people in ways that each individual is aware of and appreciates. A missionary sense of catechesis drives us to engage all women and men in ongoing, lifelong faith formation.

When catechesis has substance, when catechists show faith’s relevance by witnessing as well as teaching, and when catechetical leaders feel and instill a sense of missionary zeal in efforts to teach our faith, the times we live in will continue changing for the better by God’s grace.

May he bless all catechists on this Catechetical Sunday and at all times as these devoted women and men bring Jesus to his people and his people to Jesus.

(Ken Ogorek is archdiocesan director of catechesis. He can be reached by e-mail at

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