ROME—Lay Catholics and clergy who teach the faith on U.S. Military Installations have been extra busy of late, honing their instructional skills to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the families of those who serve. From Sept. 8 to 10, twenty-five catechists of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), joined fourteen-hundred others from 82 countries in Rome to participate in the Third International Congress on Catechesis; and on Sept. 22, eighty AMS catechists participated in the second annual AMS Virtual Catechist Convocation online.
The two events have a common purpose: to inspire catechists to be more effective teachers. The International Congress on Catechesis, the third held by the Holy See since 2013, focused on how catechists can better promote Christian living under the theme, “The Catechist: Witness of the New Life in Christ.” The AMS Virtual Catechist Convocation, the second held since October of 2021, focused on the National Eucharistic Revival, specifically, how catechists can help lead the faithful back to the source and summit of our faith—the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
“The International Congress on Catechesis in Rome was an opportunity for the AMS Delegates to pray, learn, dialogue, and connect with catechists from around the world,” AMS Director of Faith Formation José Amaya said. “The congress was a moment of encounter for the AMS delegates to be affirmed as ‘joyful messengers of challenging proposals’ at their respective areas of ministry.” The three-day congress, which covered topics ranging from personal freedom to ecclesial and social renewal, culminated in a Saturday audience with Pope Francis.
In his message to the catechists, the Bishop of Rome said in part:
“I beg you: never to tire of being catechists. Not of ‘giving a lesson’ of catechesis. Catechesis cannot be like an hour at school, but rather a living experience of the faith that each one of us feels the desire to transmit to the new generations. Certainly, we must find the best ways to ensure that the communication of faith is adequate to the age and preparation of the people who are listening to us; yet the personal encounter we have with each one of them is decisive. Only the interpersonal encounter opens the heart to receive the first proclamation and to desire to grow in the Christian life with the proper dynamism that catechesis allows…. Never forget the purpose of catechesis, which is a privileged stage in evangelization, that of meeting Jesus Christ and allowing him to grow in us.” Go here to read the full text of the Pontiff’s message.
Meanwhile, those taking part in the AMS Virtual Catechist Convocation heard presentations from His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, and AMS Judicial Vicar Father Mark Rutherford, J.C.L. Archbishop Broglio spoke on how the ministry of catechesis and the Church herself draw their life from the Eucharist, and Father Rutherford spoke on the theme of this year’s Catechetical Sunday (Sept. 18), “This is my Body given for you” (Luke 22:19). Recordings and resources from the convocation will be made available at milarch.org for later viewing by those who were not able to join the live presentations, which were offered at two different times—from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. EDT and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT—to make it more convenient for catechists at U.S. Military installations worldwide to take part in one of the online sessions.
The AMS Virtual Catechist Convocation is one of three virtual gatherings the Archdiocese will offer this catechetical year. The next will be the AMS Virtual Advent Retreat on Dec. 6 under the theme, “Making Space for the Real Presence of the Christ Child.” The third will be the AMS Virtual Lenten Retreat on March 9, 2023, under the theme of “The Healing Grace in the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist.” Follow posts on milarch.org for further details.