Those of us in the business of doing Catechesis are well aware that things are not quite coming together as we’d hoped. And there is frustration all around along with finger pointing and blaming. In addition, we have this call to the New Evangelization and honestly, for many catechists that’s too much on top of trying to teach about the faith. Or is it?
Jared Dees new book, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach: The Essential Guide to Ministry in Today’s Catholic Church shows us how to put evangelization and catechesis together in ways that I believe can work.
There is comprehensive information about where we stand in religious education, how we got here, and what needs to change. But Dees does not leave it there. Which is good, because at 300 pages I really wanted some practical advice on how to improve the faith formation program I run.
And practical is what is in there. For different levels, ages and stages of the people we minister to in our parishes. Let’s face it, there is no one size fits all when it comes to “how to do it”, whatever “it” you are trying to do. But there are best practices and proven ideas they can help you figure out the next step.
A few key points from the book that struck me:
The distinction between kerygma and didache; “Kerygma is the first proclamation….It expresses the essential of our faith to those who have yet to fully accept it in their lives.” “Didache, on the other hand, is the deposit of faith passed down through the Church from Jesus himself.”
Dees quotes St. John Paul II, “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ.” Yet when we plan our programs, is our main focus communion with Christ or what needs to be known in order to be confirmed? It’s not that knowledge is bad, but it is not the end goal.
One of my favorite sections in the book was Entertainment Vs. Engagement. Dees points out that “Engagement is unlike entertainment in that we are required to participate…we do the creating…Engagement is not easy; it is challenging. “Jesus challenged the people of his time and so must we.
Dees does an excellent job of explain what he means by heal, proclaim and teach. If he had stopped there it would be an interesting book. But he goes one step further in Part IV of the book by giving concrete examples of Evangelizing Ministry with Every Generation. Besides all of this practical information each chapter has additional resources on the website, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach.
If you are involved in parish ministry, as a paid professional or volunteer, this book is an excellent resource. It gave me direction, practical ideas and even more importantly, hope. I could not recommend it more strongly.
For more information on the book and to purchase a copy go to Ave Maria Press.