This is Part 9 of a fifteen-part series called “The Vision of an Ideal Parish” based on an article by Dr. Peter Williamson published in 2016. This series is intended to return us to our original Faith Forward Vision.

I love it when children discover echo spots. Maybe it's in the foyer of a church or in a huge cavern but when toddlers discover an echo it brings them to a stop. Their hands go out. Their eyes start casting back and forth. They concentrate on their hearing by tilting their head slightly upward. Then they squeeze out a little bleat or they began saying, "Hey!" All the while hearing echo follow upon echo.

Well, the Church itself echoes with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Just like an echo comes back to a person again and again, the Church, throughout her history, echoes the truths of Jesus Christ again and again. The Church is a teacher. She has been entrusted by Jesus to hand on his truths from one generation to the next. Jesus Commanded,

"Go therefore and make disciples, baptizing them…and teaching them…even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:14-15).

Like an echo repeats itself, so too, the Church is called to repeat the message of the Gospel.

In fact, so important is the image of an echo to the Church, she uses that the very word for "teaching." The word 'catechesis' comes from the Greek 'catecheo,' which means 'to echo.' You can even see the letters of the word for 'echo' inside the Greek word. The act of teaching in the Church is 'catechesis,' and a person who teaches the truths of the faith are called 'catechists.' In other words, like an echo repeats the same sound, a catechist teaches the same truths of Jesus Christ. The difference is that this echo grows louder through time.

Here at St. Francis we participate in this 'echoing,' this catechesis, through adult classes, bible studies, prayer services, parish missions, talks, conferences, and small groups that meet on campus (like the Legion of Mary). Catechesis also happens in Catholic Youth Ministry (CYM), Parish School of Religion (PSR), Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults/Children (RCIA/RCIC), and in Catholic Schools.

You see, an ideal parish is one that echoes the message of Jesus Christ. In other words, an ideal parish is catechetical. I invite you to participate in the many ways that we share faith on our campus. But I also invite you to become a catechist yourself in any one of the ways mentioned above.

Let us echo our faith so that generations to come can be like children discovering an echo for the first time. So that straining their neck, focusing on their hearing, and making their own sound they too will echo this great faith we have been given.

Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor