Catechists ‘echo’ the Good News,
formation director says

Art Turner, director of the Office of Faith Formation for the Archdiocese of Louisville, says catechists have been called to “echo” the Good News of Jesus Christ through the centuries — each in their own time. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister )

Noting that the word catechesis is rooted in a Greek word for echo, Art Turner explained that catechists are called to echo the initial proclamation of the Good News: Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!

“The idea of catechesis is to keep that initial proclamation alive in his or her time — to echo that through the centuries,” said Turner, the director of the Office of Faith Formation for the Archdiocese of Louisville. “Whether they’re teaching the sacraments or Scripture, church history, doctrine, the catechism, all of that goes back to the initial proclamation of the Good News.”

On Sept. 19, the Catholic Church all over the world celebrated Catechetical Sunday. Ordinarily, the archdiocese would have recognized and honored 53 catechists who earned certifications in the last year or so through the Archdiocese of Louisville Ministry Institute, but the pandemic prevented that this year.

A listing of men and women who have devoted themselves to catechetical study and earned certifications of advanced catechist or higher follows this story.

The archdiocese offers a wide range of classes for catechists — from introductory Scripture courses and class management skills to higher-level theology courses. The students include school teachers who want to brush up on their faith before teaching a religion class, parish catechists and adults who are interested in learning more about their faith.

The archdiocese doesn’t require its catechists to be certified (though some schools may mandate certifications for teachers), so the certificate program tends to be more about the opportunity to learn, noted Turner.

“Teachers and parishioners who’ve been asked to teach the faith feel more prepared to teach” after earning certification, he said. “The certification helps recognize the work people have put into their formation and to recognize the commitment they’re making. They’re willing to do the professional development; they’re willing to be the best they can be.”

Turner noted that participation in classes has been high in the last few years and he’s been pleased to see the sense of community that develops among the catechists.

“You see friendships developing that are going to last,” he said. “And they’ll help each other as they go forward.”

He noted that the sense of community among catechists is representative of the larger Body of Christ.

In the last two to three decades, he said, major changes in catechesis, brought forward by recent popes, center on seeing catechesis “as establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

“When I was a kid growing up in central Kentucky, that kind of language was associated with my Protestant friends,” he noted. “It’s interesting as modern-day Catholics that we’re exploring that.

“As Catholics, we can discover Christ in one another, in the sacraments,” he said. “We experience Christ in the priests; we can experience Christ in nature. I think for us as Catholics, the most profound way is in the Eucharist.

“The catechist has the opportunity to help facilitate that exploration,” Turner added.

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