A number of new initiatives were unveiled by the Office for the New Evangelisation (ONE) on Jan 3, 2015 to kick off the Catechetical Year.
The launch, attended by about 200 catechists, was held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre.
Among the new initiatives is a second centre for the Bridging Programme, which prepares children and youth who had missed catechism classes for more than a year, for integration into their respective parish catechetics programme. This centre will be based at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and is expected to start this month.
ONE will also pilot a Disciple-SHIP Project for teens in Secondary 3 and 4 at St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah) in collaboration with the Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
SHIP stands for spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral, the four components of the project. The Disciple-SHIP Project will be based on an entirely local curriculum and will be rolled out in stages, according to Ms Wendy Loe, Catechatical Office associate director.
A second pilot project is the Made-for-More programme for Secondary 4 or post confirmation groups. Developed by Family Life Society, the programme hopes to help youths understand themselves better, and to know how to form and maintain meaningful relationships with others.
“Concurrently, we wish to offer formation to support parents in their role as primary educators of faith,” added Ms Loe. To help ONE with this project is the Couple Empowerment Programme, which provides support and formation to young married couples.
Meanwhile, the curricula for special needs children, Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and youth as well as infant baptism are currently under review.
The curriculum for children with special needs being offered now in eight parishes will be aligned to the primary level curriculum introduced in 2010. This new curriculum will be rolled out in 2016.
Part of the preparations for catechists embarking on teaching children with special needs would include a course on the pedagogical principles undergirding special needs education and a training on using the adapted curriculum.
In his address, Fr Edward Seah, assistant catechetical director, encouraged catechists to attend ONE courses and ongoing formation “so as not to short-change the young entrusted to your care”.
He also announced that ONE hopes to explore the possibility of forming a pool of “master catechists” to assist in the continued growth and formation of catechists at the diocesan or district level to help “to identify the needs and concerns of catechists in the parishes”, he added.
Fr Seah concluded his address by giving a glimpse of ONE’s direction. “It is the hope of the catechetical office that in the near future we also look beyond ourselves and see how we can collaborate with others, perhaps with Office for Young People and Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools.”
Archbishop William Goh offered catechists the following reflection pointers during the launch of the Catechetical Year.
Ms Bernadette Lee, a catechist at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary felt that the archbishop’s message was a wake-up call and a reminder of her duty as a catechist. “The words of the archbishop hit me hard,” she added.
For Ms Daphne Conceicao, youth coordinator at the Church of the Holy Trinity, “to believe and witness as a child of God is a timely reminder”. She was also struck by the Archbishop’s reminder that catechists are not the main attraction in class.
“I was very touched by His Grace’s message to love the children [as they are],” revealed Mr Matthias Paul Toh, who is part of the home-based catechesis at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. “Sometimes we expect our own responses to be expressed by our children.”
By Mel Diamse-Lee