The Catechumenate: A Journey with Jesus
By Jerry Paré
“Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)
The Gospel proclamation for the weekend I am writing this includes this key gospel question. There are many, many different responses just as there are many, many different embodiments of Christian faith.
What does this have to do with the catechumenate? Everything. When Jesus’ disciples responded to his call to “Come, follow me,” they began their catechumenate. When each of them was able to respond as Peter did, they were at a point in that journey where they had some initial understanding of the significance of Jesus in their lives. But they weren’t there yet, as is evident in Matthew 16: 21-28. Accepting Jesus as the Christ also means accepting the dying to self that “suffering conversion” involves. The catechumenate is about the journey of faith formation that begins with the call, “Come; follow me” and ends… well it never really ends … but we mark a particular end at Pentecost after a catechumen or candidate has celebrated baptism and confirmation.
The catechumenal process was renewed in the 1960’s. It has had a slow but steady growth since then. Many shy away from it because they think it takes a lot of time and people to implement. Or they think it’s too complex. The core of your catechumenate can be as few as three people reflecting on the scriptures together one to two hours a week. Since the time of the primitive church it has been a “lay” ministry. Maybe the excuse is “we don’t need it in our congregation.”
Our diocesan mission statement is “Making Disciples, Raising up Saints & Transforming Communities for Christ.” This is what the catechumenate can do for you. Early Christian communities had the same mission as they struggled to survive and grow. They developed what we call “the catechumenate” as a way to fulfill that mission. This was before catechisms and text books. But it wasn’t before the proclamation of the Gospel began. The catechumenate is about helping others hear, really hear, and incorporate the Gospel into their lives.
The catechumenal journey is an apprenticeship with celebrations of milestones along the way. The disciples who emerge from the journey and the celebrations they share with us are a leaven in our congregations. Come and join in!
Jerry Paré is Catechumenate Director at Trinity Cathedral. Visit his blog: catechumenate-guyblog.org