By Andrea Slaven | Director of the Office of Catechesis
A little over one year ago, the Office of Faith Formation was renamed the Office of Catechesis. With that change, we are excited to unveil the new office logo and the meaning behind the symbols embedded within it.
Though the name of the office changed, its mission remains the same. Catechesis literally means “to echo or resound the teachings” — the teachings of Jesus. The aim of catechesis has always been “to put people not only in touch, but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ” (Catechesi Tradendae, #5).
The Office of Faith Formation developed a mission statement to understand the work needed to carry out the aim of catechesis. This continues to be the mission statement for the Office of Catechesis: “The Office of Catechesis of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, inspired by the life and mission of Jesus, and embracing the opportunities of our time and culture, commit ourselves to evangelize, educate, and empower others through lifelong and ongoing faith formation.”
From other articles in this issue of the Catholic Sun, you will see how the Office of Catechesis has embraced “the opportunities of our time and culture” by supporting parishes as they work through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The Office of Catechesis provided the document “A Healthy, Happy and Holy Faith-filled Year: Reopening Guidelines for 2020-2021” to assist and encourage parishes to promote catechesis in a pastoral and relational way while engaging online learners to be digital disciples.
This year, the newly revised Directory for Catechesis, written by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, has provided affirmation of and clarity on the three action words found in our office mission statement: evangelize, educate, and empower. These actions are symbolized in our new office logo.
The evangelizing action of catechesis expresses the invitation to share the Christian story of salvation through word and witness. All of Salvation History is God’s love story to us, beginning with Creation and all the events leading to the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. Because God’s never-ending divine love is revealed to us through all the events that lead to the Cross and the redeeming grace that pours forth, the Cross is central to the Christian story and is an important element in our logo. Catechesis shares in the responsibility to lead others into an encounter with Jesus Christ by echoing the joy of this message. The Office of Catechesis therefore recognizes the call to holiness in every individual and seeks to touch their hearts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Revelation is the great education of God’s work” (DC, #157). Catechesis is the teaching action of the Church. Catechesis is inspired by God’s love revealed to us through Jesus Christ and then nurtured “with initiation, education, and teaching” as an intentional and systematic process of echoing or resounding the Gospel in a way that allows the maturation of the faith (DC, #166). Therefore, the echo symbol is placed within the office logo.
“Catechesis takes many forms and includes the initiation of adults, youth and children as well as the intentional and systematic effort to enable all to grow in faith and discipleship” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #426). The Office of Catechesis therefore assists parishes while collaborating with other diocesan offices in evaluating and planning for a whole and comprehensive catechetical process for accompanying families — parents and their children — toward becoming fully initiated in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Catechesis has a missionary action to empower others as commissioned disciples to “go forth and teach.” “Catechesis forms the believers for mission, accompanying them in the maturation of attitudes of faith and making them aware that they are missionary disciples, called to participate actively in the proclamation of the Gospel and to make the Kingdom of God present in the world” (DC, #49). Therefore, the symbol of proclaiming disciples is also included in the new logo.
Catechetical Leaders and catechists are accompanied and equipped for mission through ongoing faith formation. This formation is provided through various programs tailored to the individual’s unique call and needs. We also provide ongoing professional and spiritual development through meetings, retreats, and workshop days. Through the diocesan catechist certification process, catechists are encouraged to grow in their knowledge of faith, tend to their relationship with God, and discover methods to share the faith.
Evangelize, educate, and empower are three action words found in our office mission statement that enable the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be encountered, embraced, and echoed in the world.