iThirst: Catechetical Sunday
by Suzie Perry
Today, September 17th is Catholic Catechetical Sunday! A special event in the Catholic Church calendar, it always takes place the third Sunday in September. This day celebrates and highlights the vital role of parents as the primary catechists in the faith formation of their children. It serves as an important reminder of the essential partnership between the Church and family in nurturing the Catholic faith.
This year’s 2023 Catechetical Sunday theme is “Come to me all who labor and are burdened” (Matthew 11:28). These powerful words spoken by Jesus are an invitation to follow him and have our burdens lightened. Here is our parish, we acknowledge and affirm the crucial role parents play in the spiritual development of their children. We also recognize that the community around our children – grandparents, relatives, friends, teachers, other adults – by virtue of his/her baptism, are witnesses to the Gospel. The term "catechesis" is from a Greek word meaning “to echo”. A catechist then is someone who learns, teaches, and shares the beliefs and practices of our Catholic faith. But more than that, the heart of a catechist is to be close to Jesus as a disciple...to be a witness to his Good News and to accompany others on their faith journey.
Here at St. Vincent de Paul, our catechists provide that type of formation for the entire family through our iThirst program. So, what is the iThirst program, you might ask? Is it CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine)? Is it PSR (Parish School of Religion) or PRE (Parish Religious Education)? Well, it is so much more than any of these.
During the Second Vatican Council's "Declaration on Christian Education" in 1965 (YES in 1965!!!), also known as Gravissimum Educationis, the Church emphasized that the education of children, especially in matters of faith, is the primary responsibility of parents. This document reaffirms that parents are the "first and foremost educators of their children" (GE 3 The Authors of Education). By virtue of their vocation as parents, they have the unique privilege and duty to pass on the Catholic faith to their children. With this in mind in 2020 and following our own parish responses to the Synod on Synodality, we launched iThirst, a program that not only focuses on faith formation for the child, but for the whole family – child, youth, adult. No more “dropping off ” your child for faith formation; we want the whole family along for the journey.
So, where does the name of our program, iThirst, come? The name iThirst is important because it is among Jesus’ last words (John 19: 28). St. John Paul II said, “We all thirst. We spend our lives seeking fulfillment. We look into so many places. We seek fame, power, money, security, pleasure. The list goes on and on. When these fail; we seek distraction. Our culture has excelled at distraction. It is full of noise and amusement. However, these too fail. Only one thing satisfies... And that is Jesus. After our long search, and all these other places; at last we find the one who understands us, and fulfills us.” Our iThirst program sums up what we are all seeking...to have our burdens lightened, to live richer lives, and to be loved by the only one true person who can satisfy us: Christ.
Currently, SVdP is working closely with parents and students. We have over 100 catechists that take part and help us in our iThirst ministry. Today, we come together and take the opportunity to commission these catechists, highlighting the important role they hold in assisting parents, students, and our entire parish. Help us recognize, pray for, and appreciate these catechists who dedicate their time and talent to share and pass on what they have received from the Lord to the next generation. On this day, we also honor parents and guardians who are the true first catechists, sharing the Catholic faith with their family.
If you are interested in joining this amazing team of catechists,
please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org