[Download as full-size PDF: VermeulenCatechesisWithinEvangelization]
Sometimes we fall into the temptation of viewing catechesis as something separate or different from evangelization. Job titles and organizational structures don’t always help us here (i.e. a Director of Catechesis and a Director of Evangelization, without a nested or collaborative relationship, each leading his or her own area in a “stove pipe” or “silo” model).
But, catechesis only exists within the process of evangelization. When detached from evangelization, we can end up attempting to catechize those who have not explicitly responded to the initial message of the Gospel in their lives (I was one of those kids! I had lots of catechesis, without anyone probing to see if I had heard or responded to an initial proclamation of the Gospel).
The challenge for all catechists, is that we will often be asked to form youth and adults at different places in this process simultaneously. And, the faith experiences of many we encounter will involve curving arrows, “reverse” arrows, and side tangents — testimony to the individual workings of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives and God’s diligent pursuit of each of our hearts, no matter where we stray.
Catechesis is never an end unto itself. It flows from evangelization. If someone happens to be placed in a catechetical setting, without ever experiencing pre-evangelization or initial proclamation, this critical foundation for a lifetime of discipleship cannot be overlooked. And, catechesis should return to evangelization, sending evangelizers out to the world to continue the Church’s mission. If catechesis is failing to consistently form evangelizers, it may have become detached from the process it’s ultimately a part of.