The start of a new school year can be hectic with the rush to put children in the appropriate class, handle late registrations, and maybe even find catechists. In all this activity, the Church reminds us how important catechesis is with Catechetical Sunday, which began in 1935. In the United States, the Bishops set the third Sunday of September as Catechetical Sunday. This year Catechetical Sunday is on September 17, 2023, with the theme of “Come to Me all you who labor and are burdened” (Matthew 11:28).
How to Celebrate
Since we are a people of prayer, begin your parish celebration at Mass. Let people know about the day with this poster. Choose one Mass and ask all the catechists to come to it. Don’t forget to include those who serve in youth ministry, RCIA/OCIA, and other adult programs. During Mass, the celebrant can bless and commission the catechists. After the blessing, if time permits, have children from the religious education program give a prayer card to each catechist. It is a great witness to the parish if the catechists come forward from wherever they are sitting and stand where they can be seen.
You may want to give a certificate of thanks already formatted for you from the USCCB.
After Mass, continue the celebration with a breakfast in their honor. This is your opportunity to let the catechists know how much you appreciate, need, and admire them. Does your parish have a Knights of Columbus or Council of Catholic Women’s group? Ask them to prepare and serve breakfast. If your parish is a potluck type of place, ask parents to bring food. Or keep it simple with bagels, donuts, juice, and coffee. Whatever you choose, have something to gather all the catechists and their families together to thank them.
Tokens of Appreciation
It is always nice to give something to the catechists that remind them of the parish’s gratitude. A notebook (for women or men) and a new pen are both practical and fun. Another gift idea is a scripture jar or bag. Pick verses that pertain to children, teaching, conversion, and perseverance. Attach a note from the pastor as the tag, and you are all set.
One year, I asked the parishioners to pray for a catechist. I put each catechist’s name, first name only, on a card and asked parishioners to take one as they left Mass on Catechetical Sunday. Don’t forget to add your name! You could also add each class or group to the cards. This reinforces the idea that everyone in the parish has a part in catechesis. And, you have covered your work in prayer.
No matter how you choose to celebrate and acknowledge those who serve as catechists, do so with joy as you witness to the Gospel.