Bishop salutes catechists for their dedication and love of church
September 18, 2003
Dear Friends in Christ,
On Sept. 21 of this year, we will celebrate again National Catechetical Sunday. As we commission anew the catechists from our parish religious education programs and schools, from our RCIA programs, Adult Formation groups and Youth Ministries, from our Campus Ministry Programs and Prison Initiatives, we will be asked to become aware and take up our identities as evangelizers. Every person who has been baptized and confirmed has been anointed with a mission, one that it as simple as it is profound: make Christ known and loved!
This year, the theme chosen to highlight our celebrations is: "Sowers of God's Peace." It comes from the Sunday's Second Reading, from the Letter of St. James. There the author, commenting on two kinds of "wisdom," contrasts the kind that comes from above, from the Father of lights as a gift, with the kind that is worldly and based on pure possessiveness. The first one leads to peace and solidarity with others, while the other one is literally "diabolic," a wisdom that pulls apart and alienates both persons and things.
The author then proclaims that "the harvest of justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace." Cultivating God's peace is a work of wisdom, a wisdom learned in the school of faith, scripture, sacraments and prayer, a wisdom that is not inert but active in creasing the world with actions of love, respect, of loving concern and justice. Such "wisdom" is learned by participation in the Cross of Christ Jesus, a share in the simplicity and trust in God that is characteristic of children. It is the wisdom that marks every Catholic Christian, but most especially the Catechist! They are sowers of God's peace!
I salute our catechists for their sense of faith, their love for the church, their dedication to learning more about their faith so that they can echo back Christ more effectively, and their dedication to our children and young people and adults. I hope that we will never stop supporting and thanking them for their work among us. It is surely not always easy to face daily or weekly a group of sixth graders, or ninth graders, or a number of adult inquirers about our faith.
Our catechists need that "boldness and assurance" that St. Luke speaks about in the early evangelizers in the Acts of the Apostles. Such assurance comes from formation, resources and spiritual/material support for the work of this crucial ministry. It also comes from the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit who is never lacking for those who pray for guidance.
Catechists! May I offer a word of support and encouragement to you. Our lives in the world, in the church and perhaps even in our own homes and economic situations, may leave us feeling unsettled, even anxious. The image of sowing seeds is a remarkable one of hope, of providence and of determination. Sowers of God's peace bring comfort and hope! Sowers always look ahead for the harvest! Of course, they know that there are possible droughts or floods, hail storms and locusts. But sowing seeds means always starting anew, always looking to new life, to reconciliation, to a good harvest. The image fits catechists well. Your generosity in planting and watering God's word and life in your hearers is a generous act. You may not know the results of the harvest for a very long time. Do not be frustrated! You are sowers of God's peace. God is in charge and will not fail you. Make sure the Word is planted firmly in your own hearts and then witness and teach with grace.
To all catechists and to all the faithful who support them I express my deepest gratitude for such an essential ministry in the life of the Church. I add thanks to all Administrators of our schools, Directors of Religious Education, Team Leaders of RCIA and Youth Ministries and all other moderators of catechetical initiatives in our local church of Sioux City for their good work. Let us continue to sow God's peace!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
†Most Rev. Daniel N. DiNardo