Buenas Tardes, Good afternoon!

Introduction

It is quite an honor to be invited to talk about the future of Hispanic Catechetical Leadership here at NCCL FCH San Diego 2012 during this Cinco de Mayo Celebration which also brings me good memories of my friend Miguel Arias.   As the Hispanic Catholc community continues to grow here in this country, it is a valid question to ask, what is our vision for the future? A question that requires  much thought and careful analysis but can lead to a fulfilled dream or disillusion.

As an associate director for the office of Continuing Christian Education in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston I can only speak about the experiences I have gained ministering in the southeast portion of Texas and border towns such as my hometown which I considered them to be blessings and benchmarks and would like to share them with you.  I offer you four benchmarks:


Effective Adult Catechesis

The first benchmark I would like to share with you is adult catechesis.  I strongly believe that all of our catechetical efforts are to be placed for a better effective adult catechesis or adult faith formation as the Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith formation calls for, (at this level without going into specifics I’m also being inclusive of young adults when I speak about adult faith formation).  Therefore  “adult faith formation should serve as the point of reference for catechesis for other age groups.  It ought to be “the organizing principle, which gives coherence to the various catechetical programs offered by a particular church”[1] .  Three times I have been invited to serve on NCCL’s planning committee and there has always been objections to the dates and times chosen for each specific conference because of first communions or sacramental preparation, which leads me to ask, how many of our members see their roles primarily ministering to children instead of adults?, or is it that we are still trapped in an old paradigm that primarily focuses on children and sacraments as the basis for religious upbringing & faith formation? Questions that remain unanswered but requires our attention!

At the end of this year we will be celebrating the “year of faith” with a strong emphasis on the new evangelization which requires an intentional effort in adult faith formation, but let’s us not forget that if we are to be successful, there is a key component that we cannot disregard and that is inculturation, which means to use the language of the people, their signs and symbols to answer the questions they ask[2], to create an impact on their lives; otherwise, evangelization loses its effectiveness and a great opportunity will be missed and I believe that FCH can certainly move in this direction for a better effective adult catechesis.

Discernment of those we call to catechize

Second benchmark I would like to share is, discernment of those we call to catechize; if we prudently apply this discernment process to all of our catechetical initiatives our future leadership will be shaped in a positive way because we know a personal invitation has been made just as Jesus did to his disciples and continues to do so and not just a hollow invitation needing a warm body for a specific task.  Discernment is needed in order to create a culture of witness, and “To create a culture of witness, we must live explicit lives of discipleship”.[3]  The NDC lists several positive qualities that we cannot disregard in addition to ongoing formation, discernment leads to discipleship.  Therefore, our catechetical language is to change, the language of discipleship is to be employed more often; our paradigm has to change, let me give you an example (teacher/student/classroom) needs to change to the language of (catechist/disciple/local environment).  Therefore, discernment of those we call to catechize is key for the future of Hispanic catechesis since the goal of all catechesis is to make disciples of Christ.

From the Pew to the Public Square (social justice)

Furthermore, the third benchmark I offer is “helping Catholics from the pew to the Public Square”.  As the next round of elections for Congress and the race for the White House intensifies, we have seen, and will continue to see, deep and divisive contrasts between the moral stance of the Church and that of many candidates for office.  The document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A call to Political Responsibility” by the US Catholic bishops is so important, but can the Catholic Church with over 77.7 million adherents in the United States, make a distinctive contribution to American civic life?[4] I’m hopeful and I think that we can, and if we are to be successful, our leadership needs to catechize and develop a well-formed conscience according to human reason and the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This can be accomplished through the six tasks of catechesis, which will help future generations embrace good and truth from a well-balanced approach versus a polarized notion about the Catholic faith.  Love and Unity are to always be consired.   This would also combat religious indifference and help our people from being aphasic to a well articulation of our faith in the public square.

Ecology catechesis &Solidarity

Lastly, the last benchmark I offer is ecology catechesis and Solidarity; these two areas have been for so long part of the Catholic Tradition but have been misconstrued.  The future of Hispanic Catechetical Leadership can be a great resource if we bring back new vitality and catechize future generations the respect for the integrity of all creation, and help protect and preserve our global environment, this can greatly be accomplished through media communications such as social platforms.  Our young people as well as adults need to be formed in caring and cultivating the world that we live in.  Ecology catechesis & solidarity needs to be integrated into the life of the disciple, we are to help the Hispanic Catholic community see a broader vision of what it means to live a Catholic faith in solidarity with others.

So much can be accomplished; so many great challenges lie ahead of us, there is nothing to fear, the light of Christ is on our side.

Thank you and God Bless,


[1] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Education, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States, no. 41 (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1999).

[2] Cf.  EN,no. 63

[3] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization, p. 11 (Washington,D.C.:United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2012).

[4] Jerry Fiteau, “Study Finds US Catholic Parishes Growing, Larger, More,” in THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, August 2, 2011.