PHILADELPHIA – Catechists across the Archdiocese will be acknowledged in churches across the Archdiocese on Catechetical Sunday, Sept. 20.

This year’s theme is “Catechesis and the Proclamation of the Word.”

“It’s a recognition that, at its roots, catechesis is proclaiming Jesus – who is the Word – to the world,” said Father John J. Ames, the Archdiocese’s Deputy Secretary for Catechetical Formation.

In this way, those entrusted to the care of catechists might come to a deeper knowledge and love for Jesus and be transformed by Him, Father Ames added.

The Office for Catechetical Formation assists Catholic schools and parish religious education programs in carrying out the evangelical mission of the Church.

The Archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education is unveiling a five-year strategic plan this September. The Office for Catechetical Formation is assisting with the first of the plan’s three goals: upholding Catholic identity – specifically, “what it means to be a full and practicing member of the Church,” Father Ames said.

While Cardinal Justin Rigali is the chief catechist of the Archdiocese and the pastors are the chief catechists of their respective parishes, “catechist” refers to instructors and directors of the Archdiocese’s parish religious education programs as well as Catholic school teachers, Father Ames said.

Both the catechesis that is being offered and the caliber of catechists who effectively further the education and faith of the future generation throughout the Archdiocese are impressive, he added.

Catechetical Sunday also marks the third anniversary of the Archdiocese’s Catechetical Institute. It offers year-round adult Catholic catechesis for those interested in growing in knowledge of the faith and catechist training for those who teach the faith.

Headquartered at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood in the Religious Studies spanision, the Catechetical Institute also offers courses at satellite campuses across the Archdiocese as well as online.

Although many young people in the Archdiocese typically receive formal religious education instruction at the parish level prior to the reception of first holy Communion and confirmation, the Office for Catechetical Formation is currently exploring the most effective means to assist pastors in providing additional ongoing religious education programming for junior and senior high students who have already received those sacraments but who are not currently enrolled in a parish religious education program, Father Ames said.

In addition, on Sunday afternoon, March 7, 2010, a teen convocation geared to junior and senior high students will be held at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor. Among other offerings, the convocation for youth will include a liturgy, keynote address and break-out sessions.

It will follow a convocation for adult catechists held the previous day in conjunction with the annual Catechetical Forum sponsored by the catechetical formation office.

Citing the U.S. Bishops’ National Directory for Catechesis, Father Ames said catechesis is a lifetime endeavor. “We all have an infinite desire for happiness and for truth,” Father Ames said. “Jesus is the truth which we all long for and where we’re going to find happiness.”

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. McFadden is scheduled to celebrate a Mass for catechists of the parish religious education programs Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

In the meantime, there is much to celebrate on Catechetical Sunday in churches across the Archdiocese. “It will be a day that we recognize catechists and the sacrifice they make,” Father Ames said.

Catechetical Sunday also affords parishioners the opportunity to pray for their catechists and for their parish’s catechetical ministry.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is the heart and soul of what a parish is about,” Father Ames said. “This is the core of the identity of who we are as a Church and why we exist – to proclaim Jesus Christ to others. That’s what the catechetical mission is.”

For more information about the Catechetical Institute, visit the web site or call (610) 785-6287. For more information about the Office for Catechetical Formation, call (215) 587-4544.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or