Bishops Review Key Issues for Christian Education in Canada

Thursday, September 20 2001

(CCCB — Cornwall) The bishops of Canada began their second day of their Plenary meeting in Cornwall examining the key issues for Christian education in Canada for adults, children, and youth.

They heard from three specialists who told the bishops that one of the greatest challenge facing the Church in Christian education is the effective formation of catechists who can teach faith in a meaningful way.

Paul-André Giguère of the Institut de pastorale de Montréal who specializes in adult catechesis, said there has been a profound upheaval in the lives of adults throughout the world. Where before one could navigate through life with a map, now one needs a compass. He said the challenge is how adults can be helped to read their faith compasses, and this can only happen with the support of catechists and with giving more priority to meaningful adult catechesis.

Margaret Craddock, involved in child catechesis in the Archdiocese of St. John`s, Newfoundland, suggested that the faith life of children must be given its rightful place in the life of the community. This can only be achieved, she said, with having trained catechists in place, and communities which are committed to nurturing faith in children.

Jean-Marc Charron, dean of theology at the University of Montreal, said a key way to attract adolescents to the faith life of the Church is to get them involved in social, cultural, ethical and religious projects in their communities which will highlight the new evangelization. He also stressed the need for committed and well trained catechists in order to bring this about.

The discussion on Christian education coincided with a review of the mandates of the two sectoral Episcopal Commissions for Christian Education.

Ecumenical Greetings

His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios Athanassoulas, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada, brought ecumenical greetings to the Plenary meeting. He spoke about the historic divisions between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, saying that God calls the Church to unity. Archbishop Sortirios wondered aloud: “Why is there disunity when both Churches share the same bible and the same Lord.” He concluded by calling for a more meaningful and constructive dialogue.

Synod of Bishops

In the afternoon, the bishops spent time in discussion with the four delegates who will attend the Synod of Bishops in Rome beginning October 30 on the ministry of bishop in the new millennium. The four delegates are: Bishop Gilles Cazabon, OMI, of Saint-Jérôme, Bishop Raymond Lahey of St. George’s, Bishop Pierre Morissette of Baie-Comeau, and Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg. They will be assisted at the month-long synod by Canadian theologians Margaret O’Gara of the University of Saint Michael’s College in Toronto and Father Gilles Routhier of Laval University in Quebec City.