More than 800 catechists and catechetical leaders from parishes across the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and lower Westchester County attended workshops and joined together for Mass and other prayer at the annual Catechetical Forum on Oct. 22 at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.
The theme of the day, which featured workshops in English and Spanish, was mercy.
(A second forum session for catechists from the upper counties of the archdiocese will take place at Sacred Heart parish in Monroe on Saturday, Oct. 29.)
The opening Mass at Spellman was celebrated by Father Thomas Lynch, pastor of Our Lady of Angels parish in the Bronx.
Catholic publishing companies and other vendors showcased exhibits of their products.
Father Francis Amodio, O. Carm., the director of campus ministry at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, presented a workshop on the topic, “How Do We Become Mercy Towards One Another?”
Pope Francis calls us to understand the essence of God, said Father Amodio, who explained that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy offer a good way to practice what the Lord seeks from us.
“You can’t do the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which is how God operates, if you don’t know who God really is,” Father Amodio said.
“Jesus is the flesh of God’s mercy, and he tells us to love your enemies, love one another as yourself, and we do this through the Works of Mercy.”
Sori Govin is the bilingual sales specialist for RCL Benziger Publishing. A native of Miami, Mrs. Govin has served in catechetical ministries for more than 20 years in her home parish.
She delivered the Spanish-language keynote address, “The Life of a Disciple: Joy and Mercy.” The interactive discussion was filled with personal reflection and meditation. She reminded her audience that we are all called to be disciples of God.
She asked several questions at the outset. “Do we dare listen to his call when he talks to us? We must be happy disciples, but where do we get this joy? What inspires us?”
Mrs. Govin explained, “We prepare ourselves for our calling by developing and constructing our relationship with God. We must open our hearts and not be afraid to love God in person.”
Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., the director of the archdiocesan Catechetical Office, told CNY that she expects those in attendance come away rejuvenated in their work and vision. “I hope any catechist or any director of religious education becomes strengthened in their faith and have greater zeal when they go home to continue to evangelize and to bring the families closer to Jesus,” she said.
Carol Camacho-Carpenter of Blessed Sacrament parish in the Bronx, who has been a catechist for 25 years, agreed with Sister Joan’s assessment.
“I love that they do this,” she told CNY speaking of the forum. “It actually gives many of us a chance to share our experiences, learn new ways to get our message across. It also gives us teachers a chance to educate ourselves more and gives us more tools to use in the classroom.”