Grand Junction Deanery hosts catechetical day

By Carol Schneider
Director of Religious Education St. Joseph, Grand Junction

Among the many challenges that face today’s Church, engaging families in parish life is certainly at the top. This was the focus of the first Grand Junction Deanery Catechetical Study Day on January 27. Presenter Kathy Hendricks is a national catechetical consultant for William H. Sadlier and is the author of numerous books regarding strategies for engaging the family in parish life and in bringing faith to center stage within the family.

Concurrent presentations were delivered in Spanish by Sadlier educational consultant Laureen Aguayo. Aguayo lives in the Bay Area, where she teaches formation for adults in English and Spanish and leads retreats.

Addressing an audience of primarily catechists and catechetical leaders from parishes throughout the Grand Junction Deanery, Hendricks opened with a presentation called “Hope, Hospitality, and Happiness: A New Evangelization.” Interweaving humorous stories from her own life, Hendricks drove home the importance of tasking parishes and the larger Church with discovering creative ways to evangelize. Evangelization and developing relationships with others is first and foremost in changing the climate of both parish and family life and bringing God into everyday lives. Armed with hope, which Hendricks says is a conscious choice, hospitality and accompaniment with others is an attitude that can be most exemplified through the Beatitudes. Individuals can revitalize their parishes and help engage families more.

Families are the foundation of faith, but the challenges families face often make it difficult to engage completely and authentically in their faith. Hendricks reminded participants that in the past, “Catholic culture was ingrained in what we did.” It was not separated as it so often seems to be currently. Hendricks unpacked the common tasks of family catechesis and applied them to the ways in which families can achieve them, giving fun and practical ways that leaders can help engage families more and bring faith back into their everyday lives.

Interspersed with each presentation was time for parishes to discuss ways in which they can apply what they have learned at their parish. This was invaluable time and bore much fruit that will be played out in parishes across the deanery. The day’s lessons combined with the Spitzer Institute’s Four Levels of Happiness and Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples will provide the participating parishes with numerous strategies for working toward developing family faith formation programs, helping to engage more families, and revitalizing their parishes in creative ways.

The Grand Junction Deanery Catechetical Study Day was made possible through a generous grant from the Diocese of Pueblo and William H. Sadlier, which provided the presenters free of charge. The Grand Junction Deanery will be working toward organizing another catechetical day to be held this summer.