USCCB Holds Dialogue on Catechesis and Evangelization with Vatican Officials


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently hosted a significant meeting with Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and members of his staff to discuss the state of catechesis and evangelization in the United States. The dialogue, which took place on June 13, before the 2023 Plenary Assembly of the US Bishops, aimed to address key aspects such as the reception of the Directory for Catechesis, the strengths and challenges of catechesis with different age groups, and the formation of catechists.

Ms. Marilyn Santos, associate director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis for the USCCB was a key organizer of this dialogue.  I was honored to participate in this important meeting alongside Ms. Rita Martinez, president of the Federation for Catechesis with Hispanics, and other notable national leaders. This series of meetings, initiated by the Dicastery for Evangelization, began after the publication of the Directory for Catechesis and AntiquumMinisterium by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization in 2020. The document, which established the ministry of the catechist in 2021 under the direction of His Holiness, Pope Francis, serves as a foundation for these discussions.

The primary objectives of these meetings include listening to the experiences of local Churches, gaining a deeper understanding of how the Directory has been implemented, and delineating the role of the catechist within each conference. Furthermore, the Dicastery aims to provide support, encouragement, and gratitude to catechists worldwide for their dedication and service in their respective dioceses.

The Directory for Catechesis, which serves as a guideline for bishops in their role as primary catechists within their dioceses, was developed over several years through extensive dialogue and consultations. Its publication coincided with the global pandemic, emphasizing the significance of effective evangelizing processes and the central role of the kerygma in the ongoing process of evangelization.

Some notable contributions of the Directory include the emphasis on personal and communal discernment, empowering those serving the vulnerable to find innovative ways of accompanying individuals on their faith journeys, highlighting the vocation of the catechist as a witness to God’s love, and advocating for creative and dynamic models of catechesis inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It is important to note that, in 2022, the USCCB unveiled the Institute on the Catechism, which aligns with the vision and structure outlined in the Directory for Catechesis. The primary purpose of this institute is to support local bishops, collaborate with catechetical leaders, strengthen partnerships with higher education institutions, and work with Catholic publishing houses to develop catechetical materials rooted in effective evangelization.

The Federation for  Catechesis with Hispanics continues its efforts in evangelization and catechesis, we remain committed to fostering a vibrant and faithful community of catechetical leaders. As Ms. Martinez stated,

“While recognizing that there is still much work to be done, FCH and its rich ecclesial foundation and cultural diversity, aims to create opportunities for communal encounters with Christ and to deepen the relationship with Him in the Church.”

Rita Martinez, President
Picture of Peter Ductram, DMin

Peter Ductram, DMin

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