Catechist… What’s in the name?
“I don’t know when, or where, or how it happened, but I used to be a religious teacher and now I am a catechist,” reflected a woman who had been teaching religion in a Catholic school for more than fifteen years.
What is a catechist?
Interesting enough catechist is not a new term. It has its roots in the very early church. It comes from a Greek word meaning, to teach, to inform. In the time of St. Augustine the word took on the meaning to respond, to echo, to sing out.
“Catechesis” is the process of helping people acquire and deepen Christian faith and identity. This happens through initiation rites, instruction, and formation of conscience. Catechesis includes the message presented and captured by the heart. It has been chosen as the word that best describes the process that includes instruction…but also goes beyond that to commitment, action and involvement. It is a word used almost exclusively by the Catholic community.
Parents, teachers, principals in Catholic schools, directors of religious education, deacons, priests, and bishops are catechists. All of these catechists have their own role and unique responsibilities in helping people acquire and deepen Christian faith.