A delegation of catechists from England and Wales joined 100,000 pilgrims for Mass in St Peter’s Square with Pope Francis on Sunday.
The gathering marked the International Day for Catechists which had been organised by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.
Addressing the crowds Pope Francis said: “Who are catechists? They are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others. This is something beautiful: to remember God, like the Virgin Mary, who sees God’s wondrous works in her life but doesn’t think about honour, prestige or wealth; she doesn’t become self-absorbed. Instead, after receiving the message of the angel and conceiving the Son of God, what does she do? She sets out, she goes to assist her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. And the first thing she does upon meeting Elizabeth is to recall God’s work, God’s fidelity, in her own life, in the history of her people, in our history.”
He added: “A catechist is a Christian who puts this remembrance at the service of proclamation, not to be important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity – to speak and to transmit all that God has revealed, i.e. the teaching of Christ and His Church in its totality, neither adding nor subtracting anything.”
The Mass in St Peter’s Square was also the climax of an International Conference of Catechists that had brought together 1600 representatives from around the world, just over 40 of whom were from England and Wales. Among the conference speakers was Dr Petroc Willey, Deputy Director of the Maryvale Institute in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, who delivered a paper titled: “God Searches for Man and Reveals Himself to Him”. Representatives from all the participating countries were presented to the Pope when he attended the conference on Friday.
Geraldine Ellis came on pilgrimage representing the Brentwood Diocese and said: “Our time in Rome has been a tremendous source of joy and affirmation. It was wonderful to meet people from around the world, to see the Holy Father and also to visit the tomb of St Peter.”
Meanwhile, Fr Paul Cannon, who was representing the Salford Diocese, said: “It’s really exciting that the Pontifical Council is making such an explicit link between the work of evangelisation and catechesis. We’ve all received so much encouragement during our time in Rome and look forward to trying to put all that we’ve received into practice.”
The delegation to Rome was coordinated by the Bishops’ Conference Home Mission Desk and tweets from the conference can be found at @catholicEW or using #catechist. The event in Rome was offered in support of the celebration of the Year of Faith: www.yearoffaith.org.uk
For a full translation of Pope Francis’ homily please see: news.va/en/news/pope-francis-homily-at-mass-for-catechists