As we begin the New Year, we thank God for giving us the strength and courage to overcome our past challenges and seek his grace to face the future with fidelity and hope.
January 16, 2021
New year blessings.
As we begin the New Year, we thank God for giving us the strength and courage to overcome our past challenges and seek his grace to face the future with fidelity and hope. Among the many challenges we faced over the past year was the drastic transformation in the way catechism classes were delivered to our young people. Catechists and students had to learn quickly to move away from the traditional classroom teaching-learning approach and adapt to online methods. It has not always been easy for catechists, students and parents. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude to the parents for their support and cooperation in ensuring that their children continue to learn their faith even in these difficult times.
New catechetical year
The education of our young people in the faith is an integral part of the life and mission of the Church. As such, this task cannot be delayed or neglected under any circumstances. For 2021, catechism classes will begin soon in all the dioceses. At this time, we do not know if the COVID-19 pandemic situation will improve in order to allow catechesis classes in classrooms. Otherwise, students will need to participate in online courses run through apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and others. In this perspective, I would like to clarify a few points to which I hope that parents will be attentive with regard to the catechetical formation of their children.
Registration of your child for catechism
Most parishes have already started making arrangements to register students for Sunday school for 2021. We urge parents who have not registered their children to do so. In some cases, registration will be done through online means, for example, Google Forms. Whichever method is used, please follow the guidelines given by the pastor and the catechetical team on this subject. In the event that this is the first time you are registering your child (ren) at the parish and you do not know how to proceed, please contact the parish office.
Your child’s participation in online courses
A number of issues should be taken into account:
I. Participation in Catechism Classes While we are aware that not all children will be able to participate in online classes for certain reasons, including lack or poor internet connection or lack of suitable electronic gadgets, it is essential that students who have access to these facilities participate in courses. Parents must give priority to the religious education of their children and ensure that their children attend catechism classes on the day and at the time set by their catechist.
ii. Active participation
In some cases, students connect to the online lesson but turn off the video during the lesson. As a result, the catechist becomes uncertain whether the pupil is actually participating in the lesson. We enlist the help of parents to ensure that their children are actively involved in each lesson from start to finish.
iii. Parental attention and supervision
Children in preschool years or lower primary grades need more parental attention and guidance during this time. Parents’ help in collaborating, where possible, with the catechist in guiding and teaching the faith to their young children, whether through online courses or other means, will be greatly appreciated.
iv. Communication between parent and catechist
As mentioned earlier, there may be some students who cannot participate in online courses due to lack or poor internet connectivity, lack of electronic gadgets, or other possible reasons. In such cases, we encourage parents to communicate with the catechist and to find other suitable means by which their children can continue to receive appropriate and continuing catechetical training.
I am aware that each parish will face unique challenges in the organization and conduct of catechism. I am convinced that the parish catechesis team, under the direction of the pastor, will work with parents to meet these challenges. In all cases, however, the parish priest will make the final decision.
Finally, I would like to remind parents that they are the first catechists of their children. I strongly urge parents to take this responsibility seriously so that with the help of the parish priest and catechists, our young people continue their catechism and grow in maturity in their relationship with God and in the Catholic faith.
Bishop Julian Leow Beng Kim, DD
Episcopal President Catechetical Commission of Malaysia