By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator 

As changes in a fast-paced world are accelerated by digital media, the new Directory for Catechesis has been released to help people confidently proclaim the timeless Gospel message, say catechetical leaders in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. 

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The new Directory for Catechesis emphasizes that everyone is called to live a life of holiness and to proclaim the Gospel. 

 

On Sept. 17, the Evangelization and Catechesis Office of the Diocese of Baton Rouge presented a webinar, “New Directory Workshop: A Pilgrimage of Faith” as a follow up to the annual Convocation celebrating Catechists on Sept. 8, which was also virtual. 

“The main goal of the workshop was to introduce the document to the parish catechetical leaders and subsequently offer detailed workshops to dive deeper into the content and offer practical ways based on the criteria,” said Dina Dow, director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.  

 She said the directory “reiterates foundations for catechesis and adds a bountiful measure of evangelization.” 

The most recent directory, presented by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, was approved by Pope Francis on March 23 and published, first in Italian, on June 25. It is the third catechetical directory published by the church. 

The new directory follows directories published in 1971 and 1997 and is in continuity with its predecessors.

According to the new directory, a historical overview shows that each directory has been produced as a follow-up to certain important documents of the Magisterium. 

The 1971 General Catechetical Directory was created in an effort to systematize the teachings of the Second Vatican Council for catechesis. The 1997 edition was a follow-up to the publishing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

St. John Paul II emphasized “This catechism was not intended to replace the local catechisms … It is meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which must take into account various situations and cultures.” 

The new directory is a follow-up to the Synod on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith in 2012 and Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Guadium.” 

The latest version, which is for people of “all ages and seasons,” is laid out in three parts covering catechesis in the church’s mission of evangelization, the process of catechesis and catechesis in particular churches. 

The directory takes a close look at the modern culture, particularly the “phenomenon of the digital culture” and, related to that, the globalization of the culture. 

Dow began and concluded her presentation emphasizing the church’s mission of evangelizing and catechizing remains the same as set forth in The Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). 

She further emphasized that everyone is a catechist by virtue of their baptism. 

Among Dow’s favorite sections in the chapter “Identity and Vocation of Catechists” underlines the role of parents, grandparents and godparents as catechists. The chapter also acknowledges the contributions of women to catechesis. She encouraged all people to read the directory. 

Much attention was given to the topic of evangelizing in the digital culture, which drew the most questions and comments from participating directors of religious education. 

Dow noted that digital media offers great possibilities as well as problems. 

Technology and digital media have the potential of reaching large numbers of people at one time. Yet they also offer the possibility of immediate access to a many types of content without any criteria of importance, creating a culture that is marked by the “right now,” the weakness of memory, which results in a lack of perspective and a grasp of the whole. 

She noted that true catechesis calls for dialogue that includes attentive listening, time for reflection about what is presented and responding. 

Also, while digital media provides opportunities that are geared toward individuals, they move young people away from community, which is where they need to be. Digital content is good and particularly effective in reaching young people but there must also be an opportunity for authentic experiences and communication that comes through community. Dow urged the catechists to foster relationships and encounter people with confidence, mercy and creativity. They furthermore must be willing to risk that their messages will fall on deaf ears but have confidence that the Holy Spirit will plant the seeds of faith. 

“Evangelization is the pathway to catechesis, just remember that,” Dow said.