New book explores models for lay catechesis in India
March 12, 2014
“Called to be a Catechist,” a book recently released by the Indian Catechetical Association, discusses the role of the laity in faith education in the country.
The book collects the talks delivered at the association’s 17th annual conference, held last year in Patna, and is edited by Fr. Gilbert Choondal, a Salesian priest.
“The papers explore the dimensions of a catechist, including historical, religious, pedagogical, and Oriental models, as well as discussing the challenges of being catechists today,” Fr. Choondal told CNA March 7.
He said the book’s title indicates that “to be a catechist” is a “basic Christian vocation,” and the mission of all the baptized.
“The papers provide a new emphasis on the identity, role, and formation of catechists,” he explained.
Fr. Choondal described how the Church has placed a renewed emphasis on lay catechists since the Second Vatican Council, with numerous magisterial documents underlining the importance and training of catechists.
He lamented that “in recent years, the formation and role of catechists, especially of laypersons, has taken a backseat.”
Fr. Choondal recounted that the Church in India is “both blessed and cursed by parishes dominated by clergy and religious … they have also hijacked the role of laity, making the laity withdraw from active involvement in the mission.”
“The Church in India has failed to train our laity or to equip them to be skilled catechism teachers,” he observed. “When I see Sunday catechesis dominated by catechists who are religious or seminarians, I feel that the Church has yet to grow.”
He added that while there are in some places numerous lay catechists; they often remain “faceless ministers of the Church” and are not sufficiently recognized or promoted in many parts of India.
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