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 axis 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 Directory for Catechesis, 67).A key to understanding catechesis today is to understand the meaning of experiential catechesis.
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.
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).
in the Catholic Church cannot be totally separated from culture and in
the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, broad ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and
racial diversity is an essential characteristic of the Catholic
The ways people express their faith, while the same in essence, will often vary according to culture.
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.
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
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.