Archbishop Goh speaking at the celebration marking the start of a new catechetical year.
The state of catechesis in Singapore is sobering. There are people who leave the Church after Confirmation and the RCIA process, said Archbishop William Goh.
Speaking at the annual celebration marking the start of a new catechetical year on Jan 6, Archbishop Goh said this was a failure of catechesis, which is not a question of content but of pedagogy and initiation.
The universal Church is struggling to find the “right” way to form young people and adults and he encouraged catechists to “think out of the box” to find ways to effectively evangelise those being catechised.
Speaking to the audience comprising RCIA, Special Needs, Liturgy of the Word, and Children’s and Youth catechesis teams gathered at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre at Highland Road, he reminded them that the ultimate goal of catechesis is to make people mature witnesses of Christ. He outlined four stages for this to happen:
Kerygma (proclamation of the Good News that leads to a personal encounter with Christ). Without this encounter, catechesis will not work as a person cannot be empowered by knowledge alone. Archbishop Goh suggested conducting retreats for young people at all levels so that they can encounter Christ through prayer, worship and sharing. Once people have received the kerygma, he said, the next step (didache) then follows.
Didache (instruction or discipleship). Archbishop Goh implored catechists not to reduce catechetical sessions to simply imparting information, but helping catechumens make sense of doctrines and how these are related to their lives.
Communio (communion and community). Catechesis, said Archbishop Goh, is not just the work of the Office for Catechesis (OFC), or of the catechists, but requires the involvement of every person in the parish community.
Missio (mission and evangelisation). Archbishop Goh felt that the reason why most Catholics are not witnesses is because we do not send them out for mission to witness. He challenged catechists to give catechumens the enthusiasm to make a difference in the lives of others and to cultivate in young people various ways they could share Jesus with others.
Fr Terence Kesavan, in his inaugural speech as the new Catechetical Director, stressed that there must be a balance between teaching content and helping candidates have an experience of Christ. He noted that people’s lives are changed because of what they encounter. Therefore the catechetical curriculum must be supplemented by the witness of catechists’ lives by showing the catechumens the person of Christ.
The event also saw certificates and tokens of appreciation given to those who have completed catechetical courses or collaborated on various projects with OFC.