Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton was last week supported by 20 parish priests in celebrating the 2023 Catechist Commissioning Mass, held on 26 October at St Mary’s Cathedral.
The Mass was a joint effort involving the Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Catechist Service, Office of Christian Initiation, and Personal Advocacy Service and was attended by more than 400 people, including catechists, their families, Archdiocesan agency staff.
This year, the liturgy included a special quadrennial commissioning ceremony, acknowledging those who have achieved important milestones in their formation and service as catechists.
The ceremony saw 73 new catechists commissioned, four receiving the Archbishop’s Award, and 33 receiving a Papal Blessing for dedicating ten or more years to serving as catechists and fulfilling ongoing formation requirements.
Catechists play a crucial role in the spiritual development of individuals, young and old, within the Archdiocese.
They share their faith through providing religious education, and accompanying children and adults on their own faith journey. The Commissioning Mass serves as a public affirmation of the catechist’s ministry within the Church.
This recognition assures catechists that they are not alone on their journey and offers an opportunity to reflect on their vital role in the mission of the Church.
In his homily for the Mass, Bishop Sproxton recalled the life-long impact of one of his early teachers, a religious sister who as a true catechist reinforced her teaching with experiences.
There is, said Bishop Sproxton, no greater lesson for the catechist to teach and pass on to children, and to anyone at any stage of their lives, than to pray.
“What I mean is that the catechist needs to demonstrate how to pray. There is a great difference between how to pray and what to pray,” he said.
“Jesus is the Vine and we, the New People of God, are the branches that can be fruitful because we become close to him.
Becoming close to him, Bishop Sproxton continued, will mean we become more like him and be comfortable with him.
“When we draw close to Jesus, we come to know we are loved and become comfortable with God. Then the fruit appears in us: Love for God and one another,” he said.
Prayer, Bishop Sproxton highlighted, is the means of us growing close to God.
Following the Mass, CEWA Catechist Service Team Leader, Dr Pina Ford, expressed her gratitude to the catechists for their inspiring commitment; she thanked all who value and support their work. Dr Ford especially recognised the support of parish priests, and the generosity of the families of catechists.