Angolan Catechists Renew their Commitments

“Catechists in Angola (file picture courtesy: Missionários de Nossa Senhora de La Salette – Angola)

Anastácio Sasembele – Luanda, Angola & Paul Samasumo, Vatican City

Catechists in Angola have this week reiterated and renewed commitment to their unique vocation of evangelisation.

“The vocation of a Catechist, his existence in the Church, is a gift for which we must give thanks to God. Along with this praise, it is necessary to discern what type of Catechists the Church needs today to carry out its task of evangelization, in this concrete historical situation.”

With these words, Catechists in Angola drawn from the different dioceses renewed their commitments at the opening Mass for the new Catechetical Year of 2020. The start of the new Catechetical Year took place in Viana, at the parish of Santa Madalena in Cazenga, a municipality of the province of Luanda.

A Catechist does not just pass on the rules and doctrine
“The life of the Church goes through Catechesis, the Catechist appears, then, as someone called by God, with a vocation; who believes in the Lord and is one with deep faith and aware of his ecclesial identity. The Catechist’s mission, more than passing on rules and the doctrine, is to promote a personal encounter between the person of Jesus and the Catechism,” said Fr. Dominicus Decawaio, at the opening Mass of the new Catechetical Year.

The Catechist advances the mission of Jesus, the teacher
“The Catechist participates and continues the mission of Jesus as Teacher, as he fulfils the Lord’s mandate: ‘Go and make disciples’ (Mt 28,19). Thus, Jesus Christ, in his following and imitation, constitutes for the Catechist the determining model of his entire mission,” the priest reminded the hundreds of Catechist gathered for the occasion.

Ours is not a job but a vocation
We are ready for the new year, assured Catechist, Ângela Domingos Sebastião.
Others said, their calling or “being a Catechist was not work or a job they do, but rather it is a vocation that comprises a life of encounter with Christ through words, lifestyle and witness.”

Catechists keep alive the faith in Africa’s remote areas
In the Archdiocese of Luanda, the opening of the new Catechetical Year has been marked by a specially designed missionary journey. The events started with a talk and discussion on ‘Youth and a witnessed faith.’ This is a theme chosen by the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST) for a period of three years. Apart from other sharings and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Catechists were affirmed in their mission.

In Angola as in many other African countries, Catechists are in places where there are no priests sometimes for months on end. Catechists have always been the unsung heroes that keep alive the seed of faith in some of Africa’s remote areas.

Catechists are the pride of the Church
Catechists have always had a vital role in the life of the African Church. They are considered to be irreplaceable evangelists, as the encyclical of Pope Saint John Paul II, ‘Redemptoris Missio,’ rightly states: “During my Apostolic journeys I have been able to observe personally what the Catechists offer, especially in mission territories, an ‘outstanding and absolutely necessary contribution to the spread of the faith and the Church,” said Saint John Paul II.

The Church has in the past acknowledged, on many occasions, that Catechists are often entrusted with the pastoral guidance of the little community, usually rural and remote, separated from the Centre. They are sometimes called to witness to their faith by harsh trials and painful privations. The history of evangelisation -past and present- attests to their constancy even to the giving of life itself. Catechists are truly the pride of the Church.