Catechists role as preachers should be modelled by Christ, says Bishop Don

11 Nov 2021

By Amanda Murthy

Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton blessing the congregation present at the Catechists Commissioning Mass held at the Saint Michael the Archangel chapel on 4 November. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“Jesus plays the role of the Good Shepherd who gives His all for ‘us’, His sheep. In saying that, we must lead the ministries in Church, modelled by Christ, asking for His constant teaching and guidance.”

Those were the words of Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, who celebrated Mass for the Commissioning of 36 Catechists at St Michael the Archangel Chapel, Leederville, on Thursday, 4 November

The Mass coincided with the feast day of Saint Charles Borromeo, patron saint of Catechists.

Bishop Sproxton was joined concelebrants, Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation, Fr Vincent Glynn, Cathedral Dean Fr Sean Fernandez, Congregational Leader of the Salvatorians in Australia, Fr George Kolodziej SDS and assisted by Deacons Bruce Talbot and John Kiely.

Also present for the occasion were clergy representing parishes of the candidates, Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce, Youthcare Executive Director Stanley Jeyraj, CEWA Director of Religious Education, Deacon Mark Powell, and past Director of Religious Education Eric Chidlow, Archdiocese Director for the Office of Christian Initiation Dr Carmel Suart and Personal Advocacy Service Director, Ray Ryan.

The collaborative effort by the Archdiocesan Catechist Service, Personal Advocacy Service and the Office of Christian Initiation also acknowledged six candidates with a provisional accreditation for the completion of part one of their initial formation, and four people who have completed certificates for their ongoing faith formation.

Bishop Don (left) recounted the life of St Charles Borromeo in his homily. The Catechist Commissioning Mass was held in conjunction with the feast of St Charles, patron saint of catechists on 4 November. Photo: Michelle Tan.

In his homily, Bishop Don recounted the life of St Charles Borromeo (which Perth’s St Charles Seminar in Guildford is named after).

“St Charles is an example to us – He gave his life completely to serve the people, even to the point of exhaustion,” Bishop Don said.

“We know that in his day, St Charles looked around and could see things that were going wrong within the Church and in the world (including the issue of various forms of abuse). He was one of the guiding lights who pushed for the reform and renewal of the church which was needed at the time.

“One of the things we celebrate tonight about St Charles is what he did in response to the weak faith and ignorance. He introduced what we now know as Sunday Schools,” he cited.

Involving the younger generation in the mission of the church, began the process of reform and renewal within the Church, Bishop Don added.

Bishop Don concluded by offering three lessons to the candidates present, drawn from the advice of St Charles.

“The first advice was to stay quiet in mind, body and soul with God. Dismissing the chatter and noise, so that we can be rest in God and allow the Spirit of God to touch us with His love,” Bishop Don explained.

“St Charles also spoke about preaching by the way we live. He said, if we don’t, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise. In other words, what we are preaching and teaching others, must come from the goodness of our hearts. This is the power of the passing of faith that is true and authentic.

36 Catechists were Commissioned at the St Michael the Archangel Chapel on 4 November. Six candidates received provisional accreditation, while four received acknowledgements for ongoing formation. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“St Charles advises us to be reflective and fully conscious of what we are doing before, during and after everything we do. Having Christ in us and working through us, are an important aspect of our ministries,” he added.

“Finally, it is important to be aware of what we do, and to accept that we need that grace to show the humility which Christ has.”