Please note that the Office of Catechesis has a new telephone number: 973-377-1004x 403 for Allan Wright
Catechesis has the two-fold mission of guiding those at the initial stages of faith to a mature, vibrant faith, and educating them by means of a systematic and intimate knowledge of the person and message of Jesus Christ. The transmission of the Catholic faith, however, entails much more than a simple passing on of facts about God and His laws. Catechesis is ultimately a response that springs from the discovery that God has loved us first, that He seeks us out, and that He desires to share His life with us.
Catechesis directs each person to an intimate communion with Jesus Christ and His Church concretely manifested in a living, explicit, and fruitful profession of faith. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit and well-grounded in the faith, each person courageously draws and invites others to discipleship and communion with Christ.
The Office of Catechesis is the practical means by which Bishop Arthur Serratelli directs and moderates all the catechetical activities of the Diocese of Paterson. The office falls under the direction of the Office of Evangelization and is responsible for developing and implementing a unified vision and direction for catechesis, for organizing and supporting programs and structures which directly affect catechesis, and for providing solid formation for catechists. The oversight of religious education in all the parishes, which this office exercises, also ensures the highest quality of formation for both adults and younger generations.
The Priorities of the Office of Catechesis involve five specific modes or elements of catechesis which should be evenly woven into parish catechetical ministry. The five priorities are listed and briefly described here:
Evangelical catechesis is the way of rightly perceiving and living the authentic relationship found between Evangelization and Catechesis. Catechesis is a “moment” within the larger context of Evangelization. Both Evangelization and Catechesis together seek the conversion to, and understanding of the person of Jesus Christ. This firm decision to personally acknowledge Christ as God my Savior and to orient one’s life accordingly will call them into a radical lifestyle of discipleship.
Family Catechesis places the family as the prime audience to catechize. It is parents who are the “first and best of teachers in the way of faith” for their youth. With this in mind, family catechesis will seek to encourage, support, resource and invite the family unit into a radical relationship with, and knowledge of, Jesus Christ in and through the Church.
Our faith is revealed and not man-made. Therefore our catechesis should have Scripture as a particular focus helping people to better understand the way God thinks, acts and loves. St. Jerome said that, “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance if Christ” and so we can rightly say that, “catechesis without scripture is not catechesis at all!”
The right understanding of our very identity as persons created in the image and likeness of God our creator is essential because we will seldom arrive at our destination if we fail to know where we are from. Human Catechesis helps people to grasp their theological anthropology and to rightly appropriate this understanding into actions for our goodness, happiness and heavenly orientation.
“Lex orandi, lex credendi”, is a famous theological saying which means the Church prays as the Church believes. This means that proper understanding of our faith propels a person to prayer and that a person’s prayer displays what and how they believe. Catechesis should do all it can to help people understand this principal and also develop vibrant and consistent prayer lives within a “school of prayer.”