"I encourage all parents and the wider parish community to cooperate with their respective catechists in creating a faith community where the mission of Jesus is truly experienced as an invitation that springs from the prayerful reading of the Word!" – Archbishop Nicholas Chia

SINGAPORE – The Archdiocese of Singapore celebrates Catechetical Sunday on Jan 11, 2009, Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

On this day, parishes in the archdiocese will invite all their catechists and faith formation teachers to be recognised, celebrated, commissioned, and prayed for at a special Mass. This will also be an opportunity for the parish communities to show their support and appreciation for the witness and dedication with which catechists spread the word of God, and to join them in spreading the word of God.

Parishes have been given posters and prayer cards and an outline to incorporate the rite of blessing into the homily at Masses on the weekend of Catechetical Sunday.

Catechetical Sunday was initiated by Pope Pius XI, in 1935, when he encouraged dioceses around the
world to set aside a Sunday to celebrate, recognise and give vision to catechesis: "The faithful should be called together in the parish, and having received the Holy Eucharist, they should pray to obtain greater fruit from catechesis."

Pope Pius also called for a special sermon on the necessity of catechetical instruction and for a reminder to parents about their duty to instruct their children in the faith ("On Better Care for Catechetical Teaching", "Provido sane consilio").

This year, the theme for Catechetical Sunday is the same as that for the International Synod of Bishops (October 2008): "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church".

This theme fits beautifully with the Jubilee Year of St. Paul (Jun 28, 2008 to Jun 29, 2009) proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Paul’s inspired writings make up a large portion of the New Testament. This prolific writer, who realised that he did not have true sight until he "saw" the Lord Jesus Christ, left us with many inspired words:

– "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:19).

– "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor 18:1).

– "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:9-11).

– "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself
all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col 1:19-20).

Paul explained the mission of the Church – shown to him by Christ himself – in his writings.

"What does Paul say the mission is? What does Paul say the very life of the Church is?" It is for us, catechists, to weave these questions inside and outside, and through the middle of every class we teach, every lesson we learn, and every discussion we have this catechetical year.

As we read, pray and meditate on the letters of Paul, we must ask ourselves again and again: "What does the word of God say about the mission of the Church? What does the word of God say about the life of the Church?" Our effort will bear fruit, for it is the living Word of God that we will be taking in and reflecting on.

Catechesis is a ministry that opens our hearts to Christ’s love, draws us into a deeper relationship with him, and invites us to assume our role as his faithful disciples in our world today; and Catechetical Sunday reminds us of the importance of our duty to pass on our faith in intelligible, attractive, and truthful ways so as to help all of us encounter the living Christ.

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