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As Catechetical Sunday approaches, catechists reflect on their ministry

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SAN DIEGO — With its annual celebration of Catechetical Sunday, observed this year on Sept. 19, the Church shows its appreciation for those who serve as teachers of the faith.

There are currently more than 2,650 catechists in the Diocese of San Diego, each with his or her own personal story of being called to this essential ministry, of bringing others to a deeper knowledge of Jesus and the Catholic faith, and of feeling blessed to be a part of it all. The following are only a few examples:

Javier Durán
Holy Trinity Parish, El Cajon
I live my vocation as a catechist with great enthusiasm and lots of faith, but above all with great desire to serve my Lord Jesus Christ.

Sharing Christ’s Gospel with others brings me great joy. From the moment I was invited to be part of the (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) ministry, without knowing what I was getting into, I did not hesitate. I just said “yes” because it was Christ who was inviting me through others.

For me, being a catechist can be very difficult because of my disability. I have many limitations and, at times, it is difficult for me to speak. Thanks to the Holy Spirit and, with the support of my mother, father and my friends from RCIA, I can accomplish it.

If Jesus died on the cross for me, then I will serve Him even if I have my limitations. I do it for the honor and glory of my Lord Jesus Christ.

Anne Doyle
Mission San Diego de Alcalá Parish, San Diego
Thirty years ago, I moved to San Diego to take a new job as a sales executive for an insurance company. Along with the move, I had to find a new parish and eventually ended up attending Sunday Mass at Mission San Diego.

It was meant to be, because at that very Mass, the new director of religious education, Sister Margaret Kelly, OSM, introduced herself to the parish. I thought that I could ask her how she liked the Mission and perhaps that would be my choice of a new parish.

Well after about 10 minutes, Sister had asked me to volunteer in religious ed, and I had my first experience of teaching. I loved it! I loved everything about it: the kids, the classroom, the content.

It’s said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and teaching the Faith is the best way to absolutely fall in love with Jesus. I discovered my faith over and over that year, and continued to do so for the next 30 years. I loved the experience so much that I eventually decided to quit my job and to go back to school to earn my teaching credential and teach full-time.

Of course, I never lost my love of religious ed in the parish setting either. So, I can now look back at 30-plus years of teaching my faith. I cannot imagine, ever, not being involved in teaching our Faith. It has simply been the best experience of my life.

Irma Ortiz
St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Imperial, and Sacred Heart Mission, Heber
My husband (Carlos) was the one who heard the call to serve by teaching catechism more than 11 years ago. I resisted, because I thought that we were not prepared for it. I never imagined that I would come to love so much this ministry that God sent us. I verified the truth of the phrase: “God does not choose the prepared, God prepares the chosen.”

It has become one of the most beautiful blessings we have as a couple. God gave us only one son, but He has sent us many young people to have the privilege of helping them to know Jesus and increase their faith. At first, our idea was a first-grade group, but the Lord sent us eighth-grade teenagers, and, during the pandemic, sacramental preparation groups (Eucharist and confirmation) by Zoom.

It is very gratifying to see how the students are transformed during the catechetical course, their relationship with Jesus increases, and the seed is planted in their hearts. If someone ever tells you that young people are not interested in learning about God, it is not our experience. They are always searching for the Lord, even though they sometimes don’t know it. We just have to give them the opportunity.

Definitely making a difference in the life of a young person and collaborating with God in His plan of salvation is priceless.

Sharyn Miron
Mission San Diego De Alcalá Parish
My husband (Dale) and I feel that we live out our vocation by being examples to our own children, who are age 12 and 8, showing them that we take our faith seriously.

Bringing them to faith formation was not enough for us. We wanted to actively be a part of it to affect the lives of others as well. We wanted to help form the faith in our community’s children and to properly catechize so they would be prepared to live out their Catholic faith and to continue wanting to learn more.

My husband and I have different gifts of the Holy Spirit. He grew up in a large Catholic family in Canada with six younger siblings; I grew up in a small Filipino Catholic family, and I was a youth and young adult leader during my 20s to 30s. He is an electrical engineer, while I am a nurse by profession – two completely different talents and experiences to share in our teaching style.

While he brings an expert use of his own theological knowledge, use of media and illustrations via animations and online video media, I am good at summarizing, paraphrasing, timekeeping and adding many personal and tangible experiences to share with them. While I am good with gauging the students’ understanding and interests, my husband is good with preparation of instructions, structure and delivering the lesson. Together, we work to show the face of Christ and the Church through our lessons and strive to encourage the children to be interested in their faith and continue their spiritual journey wherever they go.

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