Through the Haiti Project

What is Catechesis?

"The word katechesis means instruction by word of mouth, especially by questioning and answering. Though it may apply to any subject-matter, it is commonly used for instruction in the elements of religion, especially preparation for initiation into Christianity. The word and others of the same origin occur in St. Luke's Gospel: "That you may know the truth of those things in which you have been instructed"  (based on The Catholic Encyclopedia)

The word 'catechesis' comes from two Greek words: 'kata', meaning 'down', and 'echein', meaning 'to sound'. Today we would say to re-sound or re-echo. Catechesis is handing on a message that will resound, re-echo in daily life. It is the process of echoing God's Word. (Liam Kelly, 'Catechesis Revisited', p8)

Catechesis is the sharing of faith - that gift of God which calls us to conversion. In response to God's revelation, we obey - in faith - by our commitment to God. (Dei Verbum)

Catechesis is the process by which Christian faith is nourished and educated. Sometimes it means passing on the essentials of the faith to new members, but in a wider sense it is co-extensive with Christian teaching from the first announcement of the Good News to the highest form of theology. It seeks to present the word of God as a living reality in the Christian community. ('To live is to change - A Way of reading Vatican II')



From our Roman Catholic Tradition: The Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching  

The Church's social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.  Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents.  The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood through a direct reading of these documents.  In these brief reflections, the U.S. Catholic Bishops highlight several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition. (We have added a statement linking our Haiti Project to each principle.) 

1.  LIFE AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON: We believe in the preciousness of the people of Haiti and believe that we can learn to appreciate our own lives more deeply and grow in faith by learning from the Haitian people.

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision of society.  Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.  In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and assisted suicide.  The value of human life is being threatened by increasing use of the death penalty.  We believe that every human person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. 

2.  CALL TO FAMILY, COMMUNITY, AND PARTICIPATION:  We desire to participate together as individuals, families, parish and school communities, in seeking the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable of Haiti.

The person is not only sacred but also social.  How we organize our society -- in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.  The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined.  We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. 

3. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES:  We accept our responsibility to protect the human dignity of all by participating in outreach efforts locally and globally.

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.  Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.  Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities -- to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. 

4. OPTION FOR THE POOR AND VULNERABLE:  We seek to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first by joining our lives and prayers with those in the poorest nation of the Western Hemisphere.

A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring.  In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. 

5. THE DIGNITY OF WORK AND THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS: We believe all workers -- in Haiti have a basic right to fair wages and we seek to aid in the protection of this right through our "Teacher-to-Teacher" program. 

The economy must serve people, not the other way around.  Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God's creation.  If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected -- the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative. 

6. SOLIDARITY:  We view our neighbors in Haiti as part of one human family and stand with them in solidarity.

We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, wherever they live.  We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences.  Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means that "loving our neighbor" has global dimensions in an interdependent world. 

7. CARE FOR GOD'S CREATION:  We seek to find ways to join a need for stewardship of the Haitian environment with solutions to improve the well-being of the people through God's natural gifts.

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith.  We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God's creation.  This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

Based on:  Excerpts from Sharing Catholic Social Teaching, Challenges and Directions Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops,  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1999