“Catechesis is nothing other than the process of transmitting the Gospel, as the Christian community has received it, understands it, celebrates it, lives it and communicates it in many ways.” (General Directory for Catechesis #105)
Jesus empowered the Church to continue His mission when He said,
Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of time. (Mt. 28:18-20)
This great commission has been handed to women and men, whom God has called, to proclaim the Good News. This ministry of teaching and forming has traditionally been referred to as catechesis.
The name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God…and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ. (Catechesi Tradendae #1)
The word catechesis comes from the Greek meaning “to echo the teaching” meaning that catechesis or the teaching of the faith is an interactive process in which the Word of God re-sounds between and among the proclaimer, the one receiving the message, and the Holy Spirit! Catechesis is a life-long process of initial conversion, formation, education, and on-going conversion. Through word, worship, service and community, it seeks to lead all God’s people to an ever deepening relationship with God who reveals himself in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Catechesis takes many forms and includes the initiation of adults, youth and children as well as the intentional and systematic effort to enable all to grow in faith and discipleship.
Many people recall the term C.C.D. which stood for the “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine” which served parishes in their efforts to provide religious education to children who attended public schools. Today, we have retrieved the notion of catechesis to capture the broader mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to adults, youth and children in order to “put people in communion with Jesus Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #426).