On Sept. 18, the Catholic Church around the world celebrated Catechetical Sunday. The following day, the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Faith Formation honored and recognized 61 of the catechists who serve in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Those catechists, and others who share in this ministry, have something in common with the Holy Father — he too is a catechist.
Addressing the International Congress on Catechesis in Rome Sept. 10, Pope Francis noted that he finds great joy in his weekly general audiences when he offers catechesis. In August, he completed his catechesis on the elderly and has now begun a series on discernment.
“Every week I meet many people who come to participate in the catechesis,” he told the congress. “This is a privileged moment because, reflecting on the Word of God and the tradition of the Church, we walk as the People of God, and we are also required to find the necessary forms for bearing witness to the Gospel in daily life.”
He urged teachers of the faith to “never tire of being catechists.”
“Catechesis cannot be like an hour at school,” he said, “but rather a living experience of the faith.”
Art Turner, director of the Office of Faith Formation, said the pope’s description of catechesis is “a good way to describe the folks that are receiving the Roncalli Award.”
Four catechists who have devoted their lives to catechesis received the Roncalli Award at the Sept. 19 event. The award, the highest the office presents to individuals, is named for St. John XXIII (Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli). It recognizes “catechists who have been ignited by the spirit of Vatican II to spread the faith through catechesis,” according to the office.
“It really highlights folks who have made major commitments to catechesis and formation in the life of the church,” said Turner. “For some people, it’s practically a lifetime (of service). It’s really about recognizing folks who are ‘all in.’ It’s part of who they are. It’s not a switch they can turn off or a job.”
The recipients this year are:
- Rosemary McAdam is a volunteer who leads RCIA and other catechetical ministries at her parish, Good Shepherd Church, and formerly served in the archdiocese’s Office of Worship. Her nomination for the award said, “She truly emulates Cardinal Roncalli with her generosity of spirit, habit of hospitality and inclusion, her creative teaching techniques and her caring relationships for others.”
- Ana and Edgar Rodas, who have been married for more than 47 years, serve at St. Edward Church. She is the coordinator of Hispanic Ministry and he serves as the associate coordinator. Together, they help prepare Catholics for the sacraments. They came to the United States from Guatemala in 2006, where they prepared candidates for confirmation for 15 years. The nomination said, “Their Christian witness shines forth in a way that goes well beyond the classroom. They are true modern disciples of Jesus Christ, full of love and zeal.”
- Dr. Michael Bratcher, director of accreditation services for Cognia, has devoted his career to Catholic education as a teacher, campus minister and administrator, most recently as principal of Sacred Heart Model School, which nominated him for the award. His nomination said, “Dr. Bratcher demonstrates a love for Christ by leading with his knowledge of liturgical and sacramental life as well as Catholic social and moral teachings. He leads with the Holy Spirit by his side and prayer as his strength.”
The Monday evening gathering at the Flaget Center was the archdiocese’s first celebration of catechists in three years, said Turner. The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed what is normally an annual event.
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, who spoke at the event, thanked all of the gathered catechists for the commitment they’ve made to catechesis and continuing their own formation. He also noted that catechists are like the apostles, Jesus’ students who were formed in relationship with him. He also emphasized the importance of catechists having a relationship with Christ.
In addition to the Roncalli award recipients, dozens of catechists were recognized for reaching milestones in their catechetical formation, including certifications through the Archdiocese of Louisville Ministry Institute (ALMI). They are:
Forty-one catechists who have completed 20 hours of formation classes were named associate catechists for the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Five who have completed the associate level plus 120 hours of formation were named advanced catechists. They are: Victoria Bryan, Beth Freeman, Patricia Garlitz, Angela Poole and Paula Silliman.
Eleven catechists who completed the advanced level plus 80 hours were named master catechists. They are: Dawn Heuglin, Deacon Ned Berghausen, Cynthia Bland, Taffie Duckworth, Kathryn Fowler, Mary Gates, Lori Graves, Tina McWilliams, Michael Raymer, Theresa Steinbock and Doug Wolz.
Four catechists earned certificates in missionary discipleship (certificado en la pastoral de discipulo misionero) through the University of Dayton’s Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation. These catechists serve in Hispanic ministry. They are: Maria Guadalupe Marcias, Marta San Gabriel and Magali Torres Juarez of the Church of the Annunciation, and Elizabeth Font of St. Rita Church.
Also through the University of Dayton’s virtual platform, Michael Raymer of St. Lawrence Church earned a certificate in youth ministry.