• “… is likely to set the tone for catechesis throughout the universal Church for at least another 25 – 30 years.”
• A major document on catechesis.
• The fruit of a long process of reflection in papal and Church documents since Vatican II.
General Catechetical Directory (GCD) - 1971
• A directory represented a new development in the Church.
• Catechism – a normative document of the deposit of faith (what)
• Directory - provides the orientation, principles and criteria to actualise the deposit of faith (why, how, where, who)
• Developments between Vatican II and the beginning of the new millennium
• Political and social crises, doctrinal inadequacies, influences from global culture and other factors.
• Catechesis has to respond to these developments.
Documents related to Catechesis
• At least 20 major documents since GCD.
• Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) – 1972
• Evangelii nuntiandi - 1975 on evangelisation (Paul VI) – a decisive milestone for catechesis (GDC, 3-4)
• Catechesi tradendae - 1979 on Catechesis for Our Times (John Paul II)
• Familiaris consortio – 1981 on the Mission of the Family (John Paul II)
• Christifidelis laici - 1987 on the Vocation and Mission of the Laity (John Paul II)
• Redemptoris missio - 1990 on the Vocation and Mission of the Church (John Paul II) (GDC, 5-6)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992)
“I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion”
John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (GDC, 6-7)
General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) - 1997
• to contextualise catechesis within evangelisation as envisaged by Evangelii nuntiandi and other documents
• to appropriate the content of the faith as presented in CCC (GDC, 7)
CCC and GDC
• Two distinct but complementary instruments at the service of catechesis.
• CCC… is a point of reference for the authentic presentation of the content of faith
• GDC… is the official aid for the transmission of the content and for the whole catechetical activity.
General Directory for Catechesis
• “… aims to provide the fundamental theological and pastoral principles which are intended for a better orientation and coordination of catechesis.”
• … to offer reflections and principles rather than immediate applications or practical directives. (GDC, 9)
• addressed primarily to bishops, episcopal conferences … and those who have responsibility for catechesis.
• to be used in forming those preparing for the priesthood, continuing formation of priests and catechists.
• assist in the composition of catechetical directories and catechisms. (GDC, 11)
Parts of the GDC
Intro The Realities in which the Church Carries out Catechesis
Part 1 Catechesis in the Church’s Mission of Evangelisation
Part 2 The Gospel Message
Part 3 The Pedagogy of the Faith
Part 4 Those to be Catechised
Part 5 Catechesis in the Particular Church
• Look through the table of contents.
• Take note of the Parts and Chapters of the GDC.
• Look also at the Thematic Index on page 289.
Locus Parish (classroom) Community/ family/ parish/ BEC/ groups/ movements
Content & Method Catechisms;
indoctrination/ instruction Catechism/ Experience 4-ecclesial actions
Goal Preparation for sacraments Relationship with Christ
Agent Priests, religious, catechism teachers Community - parents, bishops, priests/ religious/ catechists
Recipient Children Adults, teenagers, children, aged
Preaching the Gospel in the Contemporary World
• Begins with the Parable of the Sower – a “shift” in the way we approach catechesis.
• The GDC indicates that we begin by examining the realities in the world and in the Church (GDC, 16)
In the world
• Human dignity (justice, peace, human and social development (GDC, 18-19)
• Culture and cultures (advances in science, technology, media) (GDC, 20-21)
• Religious movements and moral values (religious indifference, atheism, secularism, relativism) (GDC, 22-23)
In the Church
• Separation between life and faith.
• “Poor” knowledge of the faith.
• Disinterest in ongoing formation.
• Active in the “world” but fail to give witness to the faith.
(GDC 24 – 28)
Difficulties in Catechesis
• Lack of understanding of nature and tasks of catechesis.
• Emphasis on Scripture at the expense of Tradition.
• Experience at the expense of doctrine.
• The humanity of Jesus at the expense of his divinity.
• Lack of missionary thrust.
• Weak link between liturgy and catechesis. (GDC, 29-30)
Challenges for Catechesis
• To be at the service of the mission of the Church (Part 1)
• To present the essential mysteries of the faith (Part 2)
• To use the right pedagogy so as to lead to holistic formation (Part 3)
• To focus on all age groups (Part 4)
• To prepare and form of mature catechists (Part 5)
The Place and Role of Catechesis in the Church
• God reveals Himself to humanity (GDC, 36-39)
• Christ - fullness of God’s revelation (GDC, 40-41)
• By the power of the Holy Spirit - the Church transmits God’s revelation through evangelisation (GDC, 42-45)
• The Church “exists in order to evangelise”…
• … “the carrying forth of the Good News to every sector of the human race so that by its strength it may enter into the hearts of men and renew the human race” (GDC, 46)
Ministry of the Word
• A fundamental element of evangelisation is the Ministry of the Word.
• The Ministry of the Word transmits God’s Revelation, through the Church, using human words. (GDC, 50)
Catechesis in the process of evangelisation
• Evangelisation comprises different ‘essential moments’• Catechesis is one of these moments – a very remarkable one - in the process of evangelisation. (GDC, 63-64)
• Initiatory Catechesis
• Ongoing formation
• Religious Instruction in schools
• Family Catechesis
Nature of catechesis
• Catechesis is an ecclesial act (GDC, 78)
• … is nothing other than the process of transmitting the Gospel, as Christian community has received it, understands it, celebrates it, lives it and communicates it in many ways”
Object of catechesis
The definitive aim of catechesis is “to put people not only in touch but also in communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ” (GDC, 80)
Tasks of Catechesis
• Promoting knowledge of faith.
• Moral formation.
• Liturgical education.
• Teaching to pray.
• Education into community life.
• Missionary initiation.
• All these tasks are necessary – each helps to realise the objective of catechesis.
• When catechesis omits one of these elements, the Christian faith does not attain full development.
• Together, they help transformation at the cognitive, social, moral, spiritual and emotional levels.
4 ecclesial actions of the Church
• Catechesis (Ministry of the Word)
• Liturgical celebrations (Ministry of Worship)
• Building communion (Ministry of Fellowship)
• Service (Ministry of Service)
Catechesis in the particular Church
• The proclamation, transmission and lived experience of the Gospel is realised most concretely in the particular Church (GDC, 217)
• In the particular Church, catechesis occupies “a position of importance” (GDC, 219)
Study and Respond
• GDC 265-269 (Organisations)
• GDC 248-250 (schools and institutes)
• To what extent are our diocesan offices currently exercising the competencies stated in the GDC? Which areas need to be improved? Why?
Responsibility for Catechesis
• Catechesis is the responsibility of the whole community (GDC, 219)
• Bishops (GDC, 222-223)
• Priests, pastors and educators (GDC, 224)
• Parents (GDC, 226)
• Religious (GDC, 228)
• Lay catechists (GDC, 230)
Formation of catechists
• Diocesan pastoral programmes must give absolute priority to the formation of catechists
• The instruments provided for catechists cannot be truly effective unless well used by trained catechists (GDC, 234)
Purpose of Formation
• To make the catechist capable of communicating the Gospel message.
• To lead the catechist to a closer communion with Jesus Christ.
• To help catechist enter into the aspirations of the Church to transmit the Gospel.
Dimensions (GDC, 238)
• Being (GDC, 239)
• Knowing (GDC, 240-243)
• Savoir-faire (GDC, 244-245)
Study and Prepare
• The GDC has proposed several fundamental principles for the formation of catechists.
• Read GDC, 238-245.
• Prepare a formation programme for new catechists that would consists of 10 sessions (2 hours each). Discuss which topics you would choose. Why?