In the U.S.Catholic Church, every 3rd Sunday of September is set aside to celebrate Catechetical Sunday, a day intended to “acknowledge the importance of the Church’s teaching ministry and to honor those who serve the Christian community as catechists.” (You can read more about that here.) This theme chosen for this year is “Teaching About God’s Gift of Forgiveness.”
You can download a variety of free resources here to help your parish celebrate Catechetical Sunday, not just on September 21, but throughout the 2014-15 year. Resources include:
- Catechist In-Services
- Teaching Aids (mostly on the Sacrament of Penance)
- Bulletin Inserts
- Commissioning Service
- Prayer Cards
Loyola Press also has a great resource page for Catechetical Sunday here.
All this being said, if I’m being completely honest, I had no idea Catechetical Sunday was even a thing until I was in charge of a faith formation program. (Now, this might be because most of my concrete experience until then was with youth ministry, but even so, this just points to a need for more collaboration between religious education and youth ministry. That, or I just have a really bad memory). And even though materials are provided for the entire year, I was only ever able to address the theme for Catechetical Sunday for that 3rd Sunday in September (and that was in the form of a commissioning service at one of the weekend Masses). There just never seemed to be enough time!
What has your experience been with Catechetical Sunday? Have you been able to refer to the theme throughout the year, or is it just a one-time event at your parish? Now that you know that this year’s theme is “Teaching About God’s Gift of Forgiveness,” what are some ways you can work that theme into your classroom? Into your catechist formation? Seems like the perfect excuse to get t-shirts made (I always wanted to try this company out.)
One of my favorite resources for discussing God’s forgiveness is the 11-minute film from NOOMA called, “Lump.” Pair that with a reading and reflection on Luke 15 and you’re in for a pretty awesome session. I could see this working as part of a retreat for your catechists, or as a session right before the parish Advent Reconciliation Service.
At the end of the day, the real challenge for you, as a catechist, is to focus on what’s important: In talking about God’s forgiveness, the point is not that we sinned, the point is that God’s grace is so much bigger than our sins. Too often, it’s tempting for us to take the safe road and limit our teaching to logistics on how to go to confession or what counts as a venial or mortal sin. But your role as catechist is much more than that. Don’t be afraid to teach what all of us need to hear — that we are loved beyond measure and that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.