Members of the Malaysia Catechetical Commission (MCC) said that the impact of catechesis today must be centered on the approach and the personality of the catechists themselves, making it a life-long journey that must be carried out even outside the schools.
At the annual meeting in Miri, Sarawak, July 3–7, representatives from different dioceses in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei shared experiences of catechesis in the context of their ecclesiastical jurisdictions.
Noting that young people still ask the same questions about life, meaning, and relationship with God, the MCC participants concluded that a catechist’s formation must focus more on being personal and welcoming to learners, not just centered on imposing Church doctrines or rules on them that they may only view as meaningless.
Ms. Wendy Loe from the Archdiocese of Singapore said, "It is so important for young people to feel that they are loved and accepted just as they are, even if they do not conform to expected standards before they are expected to learn the doctrines and practices of the faith."
Meanwhile, Father David Arulantham from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur said: "As witnesses for the faith, catechists don’t just teach a class like a subject in school, but proclaim the love of Christ, introducing Him to young people and encouraging them to become more and more like Him."
Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Julian Leow, the Episcopal President of the commission, echoed their remarks and stated that catechesis must be an introduction to the person of Jesus through the cultivation of personal relationships.
"The best syllabus or the best books in the world could not replace the value of a good catechist, he said.
Archbishop Leow also called for more people to join the special ministry of catechesis and for deeper collaboration among the dioceses in enriching the catechetical experience.
The Malaysian Catechetical Commission is a consultative body of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, consisting of one clerical and one lay representative from each diocese.
The commission is tasked with overseeing the formation of catechists and addressing catechetical challenges at the diocesan level.
Aside from the desire to come up with better formative techniques for catechists, this year’s MCC meeting also tackled the catechetical focus for 2024 and the urgent need to update the Malaysian catechetical textbooks that were last published between 2004 and 2010. - Luke Godoy
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