“The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us”

The third annual catechist gathering was held in Portsmouth organised by the Formation for Mission (FFM) team. For the team, it is the culmination of our years of work together. The sisters led by Sr. Hyacinthe are joined by eleven lay members of the team. This year we chose to follow a particular theme around the use of Scripture. Holy Scripture is at the heart of catechesis. St Jerome is often quoted as saying “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. Throughout the day we spent time deepening our love and understanding of Scripture, the place where we discover Jesus Christ, in order to pass on this treasure to others.

The day began in the Cathedral for some time of prayer together. Fr Richard Ounsworth OP (who gave the sisters a wonderful retreat during the summer) led us into thinking more seriously about the Word of God and how important it is to us as catechists.


Click HERE to download Fr Richard's talk. 

His delivery was both very informative and entertaining. (I do not think we can look at a potato in the same light again!!) Our task as catechists is to hand on the person of Christ to others. We do this in the context of a story or history, the story of our salvation in Jesus Christ. That is the story at the heart of the Sacred Scriptures. As Catechists we have the task of engaging others in the whole story which unfolds in both the Old Testament and the New Testament leading us into a relationship of love with Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Following this excellent talk, catechists met in small groups to talk about things which we had discovered through Fr. Richard’s talk – What is the place of Scripture in catechesis? It was also an opportunity for catechists to network in particular catechetical groups such as Sacramental formation, RCIA and adult formation sharing their expertise and resources together.


This day is also the day in which we recognise in a special way those who have taken part in the various training courses offered by FFM and the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham during the year. Bishop Philip kindly distributed awards for the Diocesan Essential Catechist Training certificate run by the FFM Team during the year. Fourteen catechists had successfully completed this course run by Sr. Hyacinthe in Aldershot during September and October. Congratulations to all especially Sr. Julie our Prioress who received her award!  

Fr Eddie Clare Director of the Maryvale Institute awarded the MCC (Maryvale Catechist Certificate) to four students who have courageously worked through and successfully completed a two year distance learning course. Several more will receive their award at a later date this year once they have finished their assignments. Our novice Sr. Carino received a certificate for her Scripture study course together with one of last year’s MCC students Martin Taylor. Sr. Veronica was awarded the Certificate in Parish Ministry and Mission, the new course which Maryvale will be running in the Diocese during this coming year. Congratulations to all who received awards.


Following the awards ceremony over 100 catechists gathered with Bishop Philip for the celebration of the Eucharist.


Bishop Philip's homily HERE.

It was good to be reminded by Bishop Philip of the important and vital role of the catechists in the Diocese. He laid much emphasis on how important it is to continue to be formed as catechists. After Mass catechists were commissioned and sent by Bishop Philip to go out to their various parishes to continue the wonderful work they are doing.

Lunch time was an opportunity to socialize and enjoy the fellowship with one another. Thanks to the catering team for such wonderful food and service organised by Sr. Rosaleen and Sr. Mary Benedicta.

After lunch there was an opportunity to meet in smaller group forums focusing on Children, youth and adults. It was a great opportunity to discover new resources. Sr. Hyacinthe made a presentation about the new First Communion Programme (originally in French) which she has been involved in producing here in England published by Redemptorist Publications.  It has been produced by the Community of Notre Dame de Vie who has also published the “Come Follow Me” programme which a number of parishes are now using for ongoing children’s catechesis.



The day finished with a period of silent adoration to absorb all that we had learnt during the day. Deacon Craig Aburn closed the day with Benediction in the Cathedral. Each participant was sent home with a special individualised word of Scripture to ponder upon at home in coming days.


Many thanks to all who made this day a great success. Look forward to seeing you all next year.


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