On Thursday, 12th of December 2018, our Patriarch Sviatoslav issued a document called “God’s Word and Catechesis”. It is in fact a pastoral letter of our Synod which was written during the Synod of 2018 in Lviv, Ukraine. This document has a special meaning to me personally.
It is the last letter I worked on as head of the Patriarchal Catechetical Commission. I had been in the position for 25 years.
Despite the emotional sentiments of the document, I actually believe that this letter is one of the best documents our Synods have produced. It is very important. It gives our church a blueprint to follow in future years. It speaks about some fundamental truths about how we will raise future generations of our faithful. I would sincerely hope you read and reread it:
Our Patriarch in the letter reminds us that the transmission of our faith is not simply a matter of preparing our children for their first confession and solemn Holy Communion. It is rather a “constant and continuous” growth in faith in a process which lasts from birth to death. It starts with reading and understanding the Word of God. The Synod tells us that the entire church is responsible of Christian formation of its faithful. It is not just the catechists or the priest, but the whole church which is first of all seen on a local parish level.
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It is important to understand that the family is in fact a “Church”, a small church in which a child is raised. It is first and foremost the parents who are the first teachers of the faith. This teaching is not just a matter of words but more importantly it is the example of their faith which pass they pass on to their children. This happens especially by shared prayer.
The parish and its leadership team create a milieu in which the Word of God, education and service to others is fostered.
We are reminded that we must learn the language of faith. Again, our Patriarch tells us that the Bible and the Catechism must be in every Ukrainian catholic home. “Christ Our Pascha” is the official catechism and resource of our church.
The priest, in the name of the Bishop has the leading role of overseeing the quality of catechesis in his parish. It is the priest who makes sure that everyone finds the parish as a place where each member has an “encounter with the Living Christ”.
Catechists are reminded that they have a “vocation” in the name of the whole church community.
Catechists are reminded that they have a “vocation” in the name of the whole church community. They are to be properly educated themselves and are, by definition, people of prayer and witness to their love of Christ.
The letter concludes with the prayer that the whole church community are mindful of the fact that each child, each parishioner, learns and grows in the Christian atmosphere which is found in a vibrant parish. The parish and its leadership team create a milieu in which the Word of God, education and service to others is fostered.
Please do find this document and read it.
Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM
This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper, June 2019