Family: In the Image of God

Catechetical Sunday a ‘Springboard to a Fulfilling Lifetime’

from the ECED – Eastern Catholic Eparchial Directors of Religious Education

Catechetical Sunday has its roots in a 1935 Vatican publication “On the Better Care and Promotion of Catechetical Education,” a document that asks every country to acknowledge the importance of the Church’s teaching ministry and to honor those who serve the Christian community as catechists. Beginning in 1971, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Department of Education began producing materials to help parishes celebrate the event at the local level. Now the Committee of Evangelization and Catechesis publishes Catechetical Sunday materials each year. The USCCB has designated the third Sunday in September as Catechetical Sunday.

In the early years of the 21st century, educators of the various Eastern Catholic Churches began to provide posters, prayers, announcements and other related material reflective of the distinctive charisms of Eastern Christians’ faith experience and expression for Catechetical Sunday. Annual themes have been developed to complement the concept of USCCB guidelines, but with a look and feel more attuned to a spiritual wavelength that speaks to their somewhat different approach to faith. One small point was opting to allow “Catechetical Sunday” to be observed on another date, acknowledging the fact that the “third Sunday in September” may be inconvenient for some. Some have chosen, for example, to tie the observance to the Feastday of St. John the Theologian, September 26 on the Byzantine calendar.

This year’s theme “Family: In the Image of God” capitalizes on the notion that the family is the basic unit of society. It is the “domestic Church” where God’s presence is made known “where two or three are gathered” and consequentially encounter a model of the Triune God — united in substance [essence], distinct in persons. The family is the first schoolroom wherein the parents exercise their role as primary educators of their children. Here is where values are learned, virtues practiced and lessons of patience, sharing, compassion and tolerance put into action.

As noted by Pope Francis, not only is each individual “made in the image of God,” each family is endowed with that “image of God” as well. As part of a family, each individual has worth as a human being – a contributor to the wellbeing and welfare of the rest of Creation.

Catechetical Sunday is not meant to be a one-day experience, but a springboard to a fulfilling lifetime. It is a single step on a journey made new with each successive day. We have a mission, as did Noah’s family to restore God’s plan of salvation and renew the face of the Earth. Certainly that takes effort and dedication and focus.