A letter from Bishop Loverde on Catechetical Sunday

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, the Church in the United States will celebrate Catechetical Sunday, a day especially set aside in order for all of us as a diocesan family to give thanks to God for the faithful service and witness of the nearly 5,000 volunteer catechists who hand on the saving message of the Gospel to over 40,000 children and young people enrolled in our parish religious education programs.

The theme of this year's Catechetical Sunday is "Safeguarding the Dignity of Every Human Person." This theme reminds us that each human being is made in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1702), a beautiful truth that the Church has proclaimed for more than two thousand years and continues to proclaim in our own day. Pope Francis expressed it in these words: "[People] are God's handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God's glory" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 274). Our human dignity is founded on this principle and on the fact that we were created out of God's infinite love for us. Again, Pope Francis helps us to understand this: "To believe in a Father who loves all men and women with an infinite love means realizing that he thereby confers upon them an infinite dignity" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 178).

Over the years, our Catholic education system, catechetical programs and youth ministry programs have emphasized that all people are worthy of God's love and, therefore, are worthy of our love, too. Is this not what Jesus Himself said were the two greatest of all the commandments: to love God and to love one another (cf. Mt. 22:36-39)? Just as God's love is so generously poured out into our hearts, so we too are called to love generously those whom He created out of love in His own image.

Part of the mission of Catholic educators (including parents) is to assist the faithful of all ages to understand that our human dignity is founded upon this truth: that we are created out of love in God's image. How necessary it is that we, as educators, not only teach this wonderful reality, but that we live our own lives in accordance with it, that we become witnesses, in word and action, to the inherent dignity of each human person. No matter what anyone's condition of life may be, no matter their age, health, social or economic status, each person's dignity calls for unconditional respect, protection and love. The theme of Catechetical Sunday reminds us that our children and young people especially need to know that God is the source of human dignity and that all of us are called to safeguard that dignity wherever and whenever it may be threatened or harmed.

As the Church throughout the United States, and especially here in the Diocese of Arlington, celebrates Catechetical Sunday, let us pray for all catechists and teachers - including parents, guardians, women and men living the consecrated life, deacons, and priests - that through their dedication and witness, they may inspire those whom they teach and serve to protect, promote and proclaim the inherent dignity of every human person, created out of God's love and called to share His eternal life!

Faithfully in the Heart of Christ,

Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde

Bishop of Arlington

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015