“So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.'” – CCC 2
Early on into our time in Peru, I started to hear whisperings about this youth receiving her Sacrament of Confirmation, and that youth her Baptism, and yet another who would be receiving all three of the initiation Sacraments. At that time, I didn’t put any thought into what the logistics of all that might look like. I was focused on setting up our house and feeding my family three meals a day.
As time went on and our basic needs were met, I continued to hear about youth receiving their Sacraments this year, so I began to inquire as to who was forming them, and when formation was happening. I was directed to a man who was supposedly the Catechist, and he told me formation was happening every Sunday. Sunday’s came and went, and unfortunately, I never observed any formation classes happening.
Four months had passed: it was time to get to the bottom of this Faith Formation mystery. I asked one of the other missionaries to come out and help translate my conversation with this so-called catechist. What I discovered was that the “Faith Formation” he was referring to was the Sunday Liturgy of the Word service. Finally, I realized that Faith Formation was a “foreign” concept, and that people have been receiving their Sacraments without an understanding of what they are.
I brought this problem of having catechumens but no catechist to the attention of Father Francisco. He handed me a book, and essentially said that my options were to either offer classes or to cancel Sacraments in Leoncio Prado this year.
In honor of one particular girl, who is especially motivated to receive her Sacrament of Confirmation this year, I decided to accept.
We now have Catechism classes Sunday after the Liturgy of the Word. When I am not able to teach, our animador teaches. I am hopeful through this experience, she will realize what has been missing. Six youth and one adult will be receiving Baptism, five will be receiving their First Communion, and two will receive Confirmation. There is also one couple receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony, First Communion, and Confirmation.
As our formation began late into the year, we have a lot to cover. I still have people coming to ask if they can receive their Sacraments this year. I have been told in the past they haven’t been turned away. I explain to them how important formation is, that each sacrament is so beautiful we could spend a year learning about each one. I don’t want to deprive them of the gift of education: I want them to know what is the gift of each Sacrament and what is their Catholic Faith. I currently have 8 Catechumens for next year waiting to receive their initiation Sacraments and 3 couples for marriage.
Please pray for these catechumens. Pray for Lyce, a potential long term Catechist who has been helping me the past few weeks. Pray that I can communicate what the Catechumens need to hear. Pray that the Holy Spirit touches their hearts, enlightens their minds, and guides their decisions. November 16th is the special day!
“Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God’s plan depend essentially on catechesis.” – CCC 7