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Developed by the Office of Religious Education, the following guidelines offer vision, direction, and resources to help implement catechetical ministry at the local level in a variety of settings and situations. The priorities and motivations center on the kingdom and are rooted in the Church community.

"Catechesis is the responsibility of the entire Christian community. Christian initiation, indeed, should not be the work of catechists and priests alone, but of the whole community of faith" (General Directory for Catechesis, 78). Inspired by this vision the Church moves forward to involve the whole community in catechetical efforts.

Whole Community Catechesis is an approach to parish and school religious education where adults and youth as well as children are invited to participate in faith formation together throughout the year. It is a process that is catechumenal in nature and provides a forum to address the needs of intergenerational and multicultural communities of faith. It affirms the centrality of adult formation as proposed in the pastoral plan for adult formation, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States.

"Adult faith formation, by which people consciously grow in the life of Christ through experience, reflection, prayer, and study, must be 'the central task in [this] catechetical enterprise,' becoming 'the ax​is around which revolves the catechesis of childhood and adolescence as well as that of old age' " (Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States, 5).

Situated within the dynamic process of evangelization, catechesis finds its source in the word of God as expressed in Scripture and tradition.

"The Ministry of the Word is a fundamental element of evangelization through all its stages because it involves the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God" (National Directory for Catechesis, 17.C).

The specific character of catechesis has a twofold objective and the General Directory for Catechesis distinguishes between the primary proclamation of the gospel, or initiatory catechesis, and continuing catechesis.

"Primary proclamation is addressed to nonbelievers and those living in religious indifference. Its functions are to proclaim the gospel and to call to conversion. Catechesis, distinct from primary proclamation of the Gospel, promotes and matures initial conversion" (General Directory for Catechesis, 61).

This ongoing formation implies education in the knowledge of the faith and in the life of faith in such a manner that the entire person at the deepest levels feels enriched and transformed by the word of God (General Dire​ctory for Catechesis, 67).

A key to understanding catechesis today is to understand the meaning of experiential catechesis.

  • It means more than experiential learning. Experiential catechesis describes that process by which the catechist leads the learners to a greater understanding of faith by beginning with the learners' everyday experience and helping them interpret the meaning of that experience in light of God's revelation.

  • It is a process of deepening faith, not just increasing knowledge. The learners need to know not just words, but Jesus who is the Word. Catechetical leaders are charged with the responsibility to lead people to maturity of faith. The role of the catechist is to help the learners interpret their experiences in light of the Scriptures and the doctrines of the Church.

  • This experiential approach to catechesis helps the learners come to know Christ personally rather than simply know about Christ or his message. This catechesis must also be systematic.

" 'Complete and systematic' [means] a catechesis that nurtures a profound, lifelong conversion of the whole person and sets forth a comprehensive, contemporary synthesis of the faith" (Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States, 4).

  • Catechesis in the Catholic Church cannot be totally separated from culture and in the Archdiocese o​f Los Angeles, broad ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and racial diversity is an essential characteristic of the Catholic population.

  • The ways people express their faith, while the same in essence, will often vary according to culture.

  • Each of the evangelists wrote his particular account of the Gospel in a different way from the other three because of the culture and background of the people for whom it was intended.

  • A multicultural environment provides a particular challenge in catechesis, for it calls for an understanding and appreciation of each of the cultures from which the believers come, if a growth in faith is to be most effectively facilitated.

The term inculturation expresses very well one factor of the great mystery of the Incarnation. Christ by his Incarnation committed himself to the particular social, cultural, and religious circumstances of the people among whom he lived. This is the original Incarnation of the word of God and it is the model of all evangelization of the church.

"Catechesis…is called to bring the power of the Gospel into the very heart of culture and cultures. For this purpose, catechesis will seek to know these cultures and their essential components; it will learn their most significant expressions; it will respect their particular values and riches" (Catechesi Tradendae, 53).

Catechesis for social justice is not an option; it is at the heart of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. "The Church's social teaching seeks to apply the Gospel command of love to and within social systems, structures, and institutions" (National Directory for Catechesis, 43.C). Working for justice in society and in the Church continues a long tradition of ministering to the disadvantaged and striving to transform unjust structures. The 42 languages spoken in the archdiocese reflect the interrelatedness and interdependence of the world community. This interdependence is at the root of Catholic social teaching and permeates all catechetical efforts.

Ongoing catechesis is aware of the ecumenical and interreligious scope of its ministry. It encourages dialogue and initiatives to foster unity of Christians and an awareness, respect, and appreciation of other faith traditions.

These guidelines serve as an important reference point and resource for ministry. They are given in a spirit of cooperation and support with the hope that they will provide a new and fresh commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel and enhance the work of catechesis in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


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