It was at the beginning of 2016 when, for the very first time, we gathered at our Cathedral all the catechists of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland) for a day of reflection, prayer and commissioning. The gathering was a success and we committed ourselves to continue doing it every year.
We also saw it would be important to "improve it" and that is why this year we were able to offer some food to all of them after Mass. Fr Ncamiso Vilakati solemnly announced that: "the Bishop has cooked for you", while I asked for patience as "it is my first time to do it".
The names of about 300 catechists were read during Mass. Each parish priest or parish catechetical coordinator presented them to the bishop for commissioning. They lit their candles and renewed their baptismal promises and commitment to serve in their communities.
This followed by the handing over of the material to be used in the parishes.
Click below to browse photos from Flickr
During the homily I reminded the catechists once again of something I believe we always need to keep in mind.
We usually talk about "teaching" catechism. There is, indeed, a dimension of "teaching" in our journey of faith.
Still, I told them, I would prefer to use three other images. Catechism is about helping children, young people and adults to:
- know Jesus
- love Jesus
- follow Jesus
Knowing Him should particularly include Jesus' mercy towards sinners. As John 4:18 says: "In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love."
We all need to treasure Jesus' calling of Levi to be an apostle, his eating with sinners, his decision to go to Zacchaeus' home, his parables of the lost sheep and the merciful father...
Their service as catechists should help us build a church where God's mercy is constantly experienced, where love drives away fear and where everyone is invited to follow Jesus' wholeheartedly.