Questions follow Pope’s new catechist ministry announcement


Excitement followed by some questions have emerged among New Zealand Catholics following the Pope’s announcement, Tuesday, establishing a new ministry of Catechist.

The big vision for the new lay ministry is that it aims to encourage greater participation of lay people in the teaching of the Catholic faith, and not just in places where priests are in short supply.

So far, the details are a little hazy.

Francis says the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will publish “in the near future” a liturgical rite for the ministry, to be adopted by bishops “in accordance with their own local traditions.”

It will then be up to the national conferences of bishops to decide “the necessary process of formation and the normative criteria for admission to this ministry,” the pope says.

An informal canvas of opinion among some involved New Zealand Catholics about the new ministry found much interest, many questions and a number of suppositions rather than answers.

Given Catechists will teach and preach the faith, questions revolved around the training of the new ministers.

  • How formal will the training be?
  • What level of training will there be?
  • Who will supply the training?
  • Will the training be nationally based or at a diocesan level?
  • Given the kind of information catechists impart, will their training involve going to residential courses at the Catholic Theological College?
  • Who will be responsible for the catechists?
  • What post-study supervision will they receive?
  • Will the new ministry apply only to parish work or will it apply to schools too?
  • Will RE Teachers who are already teaching the RE curriculum automatically qualify?
  • Is there a vision for how the new ministry will work?
  • How does it link to the lay pastoral workers (some pictured) who already work in some dioceses?
  • Will the position be paid?

According to all the information to date, the pope has left all these and other locally-focused questions to each country’s own bishops’ conference to provide locally-developed solutions.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference was contacted for comment.


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