More than 700 catechists, catechetical leaders and youth ministers from parishes in the archdiocese attended workshops and came together for Mass and communal prayer at the annual archdiocesan Forum for Catechesis and Youth Ministry Oct. 6 at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.
The archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry joined the archdiocesan Catechetical Office as sponsors of the forum this year. The day’s theme was Joy for the World. Workshops at Spellman were offered in English and Spanish.
Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, vicar for clergy, celebrated the opening Mass. Catholic publishing companies and other vendors showcased exhibits of their products.
“Catechists are the unsung heroes of the Church,” Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., the director of the Catechetical Office, told CNY. She praised the efforts and the passion of the men and woman who volunteer their time to spread God’s message.
A second forum session for catechists and youth ministers from the upper counties of the archdiocese will take place at Sacred Heart parish in Monroe Saturday, Oct. 27.
Betsy Davila, the director of religious education at St. Francis Xavier parish in the Bronx, presented a workshop on “Sharing the Good News in Engaging Ways.” She has served as a catechist for 25 years, since beginning at Blessed Sacrament parish in the Bronx. In her workshop, Ms. Davila shared strategies she uses to keep her students engaged and entertained while maintaining the sanctity of faith formation. She incorporates arts and craft whenever possible, as she demonstrated. She feels that a religious program should be fun because she said she believes that Jesus shares our joy as He loves us.
“God has demonstrated his love in my life and I have to share that with others,” Ms. Davila said. “I want others to know how good He has been in my life. Just sharing that we are called to evangelize and share the Good News, everyone needs to hear that, especially the children that we work with.”
Juan Carlos Moreno, who has served in parish catechetical ministry for more than 20 years, delivered the keynote addresses in Spanish and English. He is the associate director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “The joy of evangelization needs to be shared,” Moreno said.
Moreno told the catechists and youth ministers that evangelization starts with the person in the mirror. He then laid out what he called “the four basics of evangelization.” The first one is, God is love and God loves us. Second, we are all sinners. Third, Jesus died for our sins and rose again. Finally, everything ultimately comes down to faith, Moreno said.
“Doing these things help us evolve from a faith of obligation and tradition and transition into a faith of action,” Moreno said.
He told the catechists and youth ministers their ultimate goal is “to bring people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through the Eucharist,” Moreno said.
The forum is an annual tradition for many. Others like 21-year-old Harry Vuorinen were attending for the first time. The Brooklyn College sophomore is a first-year catechist at St. Anselm and St. Roch parish in the Bronx. Vuorinen told CNY why he decided to become a catechist.
“I wanted to give back to the community that I grew up in, and the parish that my mom had been taking me to since I was in fifth grade,” Vuorinen said. “I owe a lot to St. Anselm. I went to the elementary school, and I can remember when I was their age. As a catechist, my goal is to make learning interesting to them.
“My faith is a very big part of my life. I wanted to see how I could pass along the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to others.”