For over 30 years, I have had the privilege of catechizing both RCIA Candidates and Adult Catholics. There is such a profound joy in watching inspiration unfold in a soul as clarity breaks open regardless of their age or personal perspectives, whether they are from Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, non-practicing Catholic backgrounds or if they are weekly Mass-goers.
Very early on in the process, I have found it paramount and a top priority to convey the general reasons for my passion for the Catholic Faith(while entirely respecting their freedom and encouraging them to get the best answers to their most challenging questions to assist their personal assessment).
Sadly, and all too often (regardless of whether the Catechist is a Layperson, a Clergy member, or a Religious) that passion and that witness is absent or at least not evident in not only the introductory phases of a formational process but throughout a Catechist’s presentations.
Passionate personal witness and conviction dramatically impact effectiveness
While we all possess a range of temperaments, personal passion can still emanate simply from the core of what it is that has convicted you.
For many of us who have offered our services for the mission of Catechesis (whether it be for children, teens, or adults), our effectiveness is most often radically compromised due to the fact that we may personally struggle with aspects of Catholic teaching and genuinely lack passion and conviction.
If you find yourself lacking that conviction, the best starting place in catechizing effectively is to effectively go after the answers to your most challenging personal questions and struggles. Do not at all assume that when you come across an inadequate or weak answer to your personal challenge with the Catholic Faith, a great answer does not exist. I promise you, it does.
Continue to seek, and you WILL find.
In closing, I am providing (below) the contents of a personal message I include in the Welcome folder of every RCIA Candidate and Adult Formation student in our care. If you have stayed with this article to this point and you personally struggle with aspects of our Catholic Faith, I pray that this message will be a game-changer for YOU.
MESSAGE FROM THE COORDINATOR
Why have I dedicated myself to Catholic Adult Formation for over three decades?
For me, it’s about helping others to achieve authentic empowerment, sanity, and peace. It’s also about assisting anyone we can to attain the optimal and most complete information to confront life’s challenges and difficult times effectively. The knowledge and strength and understanding imparted to us in the Catholic framework is a dynamic that makes a critical difference in living out our lives.
I did not always feel this way about the Catholic Church. I “left” the Church in my late teen/young adult journey because I perceived Her to be irrelevant, out of touch with reality and issues, boring, absurd, intolerant and lacking in compassion. God had other plans.
Over the course of time, He lead me to a long line of people (the first being my husband) who turned all of my assessments on their heads and inside out. Interestingly enough, and all at the same time, He also permitted many good and intelligent people into the picture to challenge my unfolding understanding: Atheists, Agnostics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Born-Again Christians, New Agers, etc.
As I was forced to delve deeply and extensively into the Catholic Church’s wisdom on every challenge, I found that, regardless of some of the common ground that we share with others, there was no option as complete or in touch with reality. Bar none.
I was astounded by it and overwhelmed by the brilliance, insight, and foresight of Her teachings. It became largely apparent to me that my 8th-grade religious education had only scratched the surface and left me with a largely limited understanding of any and all aspects of the Church’s teachings.
I thought I knew what the Catholic Church taught and why. In the grand scheme of things, I hadn’t a clue.
Everything changed so dramatically. All of life, its purpose and direction, all of trial and challenge, found it’s most profound meaning and context. I was given the tools and mean to elevate functioning and living to heights one would not think possible, especially when confronted with the worst of circumstances.
In time, I became compelled to impart this great treasure to others. In my role as parish Adult Formation Co-Coordinator, I (along with a strong Catechetical support team) dedicate my time to educating and forming adults in the Catholic Faith as it so desperately needs to be understood at the adult time of life. The vast number of adult “cradle Catholics” have been robbed of all they can have either through lack of available, vital, and accurate information; through blatant misinformation, confusion, and indifference; misunderstanding; error; scandal; and, above all, often through a subconscious fear of what they will have to change in their lives “if it’s all true”.
Fearing they will lose their freedom, so many have succumbed to a “life in chains,” often losing clarity, purpose, and direction; crippled in crisis; and deprived, ultimately, of authentic freedom. Oftentimes, we have to be “brought to our knees” before we search effectively. And therein lies one of the many hidden gifts of crisis: discovering the gift that “surpasses all understanding”.
In knowing what our Team does, why we do it, and that we are here to help, you know not who you can help tomorrow: the person facing a sudden cancer diagnosis; the person devastated by the unexpected death of a loved one; someone who has lost hope and has sunk into despair and addictions; an individual who is a victim of great evil, a family who has lost everything in a disaster. You can help yourself and others “pick up the pieces” no matter what the circumstance. On a brighter note, all the good in your life can be made that much better.
In closing, I give you every assurance that if you let go and persevere in knowledge and in trust, you and others in your life will never be the same.
Respectfully yours in Christ,
Peggy Clores, Adult Ed/RCIA-Coordinator
Photo Credit by Brandon Morgan on Unsplash