National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Catechesis for the New Evangelization

Innovative Programs to Aid Catechists

BY Joseph Pronechen

Aug. 11-24, 2013 Issue | Posted 8/18/13 at 6:04 AM

 

To address the New Evangelization directives from Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, new programs geared for adults and young adults are on the scene.

The RCIA program from the Association for Catechumenal Ministry (ACM, ACMRCIA.org) was developed at the request of bishops. At the top of ACM’s board of directors are Archbishops J. Augustine DiNoia, vice president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei; Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan.; and William Lori of Baltimore.

"We know if we put the beauty of the Church in the hands of the people and give them some tools, they will, in conjunction with their bishop and pastors and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be able to implement a faithful RCIA process," said Patricia Norris, ACM’s national seminar leader, who has appeared on EWTN’s Handing on the Faith.

The ACM program uses the RCIA rite book, the Catechism, the liturgical norms of the Church and other pertinent documents. ACM has trained personnel in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as at the North American College in Rome.

Matt Karr, lead consultant of the Kansas City, Kan., archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catholic Formation of Adults, said the office recommends ACM materials.

"Its orthodox, faithful to the teachings of the Church and really geared for people going through RCIA," Karr assessed. "The other thing I love about ACM is that it’s geared toward conversion. The point is to actually bring people to Christ and conversion."

Symbolon (SymbolonRCIA.org) is another new program. From the Augustine Institute in Denver, it gives leaders the know-how to implement the New Evangelization.

"The New Evangelization is about re-evangelizing the Catholic faith to people who may be baptized, even go to Mass every Sunday — but have they surrendered to Jesus and allowed Jesus to shape their lives?" explained biblical scholar Edward Sri, author, Augustine Institute professor and host of EWTN’s Men, Women & the Mystery of Love.

Symbolon uses a video curriculum to proclaim the fullness of the faith. The videos’ team includes Curtis Martin, founder of Fellowship of Catholic University Students; Johnnette Benkovic, EWTN host; and Father Leo Patalinghug, founder of Grace Before Meals and EWTN host.

When Symbolon began training in the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., Susan Safford, diocesan director of faith formation, found that it has the right focus on conversion: "All the components of the RCIA process are really looking forward to a conversion process, not just a catechetical process."

Added Sri, "At the heart is focusing on the local catechist, because the heart of the local catechist is the primary instrument that God wants to use to bring souls closer to him."

YDisciple (YDisciple.org), also from the Augustine Institute, is aimed at small-group youth ministry. YDisciple uses a video curriculum with "a team that’s proven to present the faith in a compelling way to teenagers," explained Jim Beckman, YDisciple’s director of youth ministry. Among the presenters are Sarah Swafford and Jason and Crystalina Evert.

Beckman emphasized that parents have a big role in this program "because they should be teachers of the faith."

Whichever program is used, Sri summed up the main goal for catechists: "They need to put Christ in the center of their lives and to put Christ in everything in their lives."

 

Joseph Pronechen is a

Register staff writer.