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An evening to encourage catechists kicks off in Falls Church

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Meant to be an evening of encouragement and spiritual inspiration for volunteer catechists to come away with a better understanding of their mission in the church, 50 catechists representing 10 parishes attended “On the Road to Emmaus” at St. James Church in Falls Church Sept. 19.

Led by Soren Johnson, associate director of the St. Thomas More Institute of the diocesan Office of Catechetics, and John Knutsen, assistant director, the event for Deanery I began with a welcome from Father Patrick L. Posey, pastor of St. James and dean of Deanery I. He told the catechists they are planting the seeds. Sometimes it seems like they are not growing, he said, especially when the students are hungry or tired or don’t look like they are paying attention.

“They are listening. I do believe the best way to teach is by your own example. If we come in with a sense of joy and peacefulness, and that comes from an encounter with the Lord,” he said. “They have to know the Lord and have a deep relationship with him that they are growing into every day.”

Catechists watched a video message from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who invited the catechists to consider prayer, teaching and evangelization.

Knutsen said catechists have to be formed themselves to be able to form others. He encouraged them to attend daily Mass, read the scriptures daily and make time for silence. 

Johnson spoke about the mission of the catechists. “I encourage you to draw near to your students,” he said. “Live and breathe the issues they are dealing with, and find unique ways to be present.”

A Q&A period followed and the evening ended with a reception to give catechists time to meet each other.

Mark Flores, a catechist at St. James, said it was helpful to hear from experienced catechists. “It’s good to hear their personal experience and their focus mainly on being an overflowing fountain where we can fill ourselves with the Lord and that will flow to our students,” said Flores. “We can focus on the material in the curriculum but it’s so wonderful to connect with them in a way that we can be an example to them and guide them to Our Lord.”

Amy Pedagno, a catechist at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington, learned she needs to challenge herself in her own prayer life. “It’s very easy to become complacent in our own routines. If I’m asking a lot of my students, I need to be asking a lot of myself, the same way God is constantly asking a lot of me.”

The theme of the evening reflected the opportunities catechists have “to walk with their students and help with the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of their students to Jesus,” said Johnson.

The event was planned with Father Paul F. deLadurantaye, former executive director of the St. Thomas More Institute and diocesan secretary for catechetics and sacred liturgy, who was appointed to the English section of the Vatican Secretariat of State for five years beginning Sept. 1.

“We have more than 4,000 volunteer catechists serving 35,000 youths on a weekly basis,” said Johnson. “Parishes are actively forming these volunteer catechists through their own offerings and we wanted to offer this as something that augments the parish’s own formation efforts.”

The presentation will be given in each deanery.

“By offering it on a deanery level it will allow catechists from the same region of the diocese to have some social time together and meet one another,” said Knutsen.

If you go

Each meeting is 7-9 p.m. RSVP to john.knutsen@arlingtondiocese.org 

Deanery II

Sept. 26

St. Ambrose Church, 3901 Woodburn Rd., Annandale

Deanery III

Oct. 4

Our Lady of Hope Church, 46639 Algonkian Pkwy., Potomac Falls

Deanery VI

Oct. 10

St. Mary of Sorrows Church, 5222 Sideburn Rd., Fairfax

Deanery V

Oct. 18

All Saints Church, 9300 Stonewall Rd., Manassas

Deanery IV

Oct. 23

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 130 Keating Dr., Winchester

Deanery VII

Oct. 30

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, 1009 Stafford Ave., Fredericksburg





© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018