If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.
- Yogi Bhajan
Students seem wonderfully comfortable talking about and even challenging aspects of faith with peers in informal settings – into the night group conversations in dorm hallways, over dinner with friends or even in a dorm room with one friend. But when it comes to teaching more officially – being the Catholic representative for a group or on a panel or even being a catechist, meaning teacher, to help prepare a fellow Catholic for one of the Sacraments lay Catholics frequently express fear. There is something beautiful here. There is humility and recognition of God as God. A sense that this is a big deal and I want to make sure I get it right! We are certainly called to competency. But how do we get to competency unless we engage?
In 2012 we began teaching and supporting students serving as catechists. A catechist is someone who teaches the faith, who echoes down the message of Jesus. Student catechists walk alongside those preparing to come into the Church through RCIA and those preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The staff walks alongside both the student catechist and those preparing for the Sacraments. There are binders of material that are used for both RCIA and Confirmation as reference for both catechist and candidates. One of the most common expressions from the catechists at the end of the year is joy. They have enjoyed the process from meeting and walking with a person preparing for a Sacrament and how they have been able to enter into and share parts of life with them, sometimes a complete stranger at the beginning. And the catechists have all expressed that they have learned a great deal more about the faith in the process of teaching and talking about it with another. If you are looking to learn about your faith serving as a catechist is a way to truly engage in order to learn deeply- and even master aspects of our faith over time. Please email Catherine Preston if you’re interested!
When I think about it the crazy thing about catechesis and teaching the faith is that “the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ.” (CT 7) In serving as a catechist we too learn about God and are brought into deeper communion and intimacy with Jesus.