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Issue 08 – Christmas 2021


Milites Christi

On a new generation of soldiers.


Last May, Pope Francis formally recognized the lay ministry of catechists, after a request from the Synod of Bishops. “Being a catechist is a vocation,” Francis wrote, “and is a true and genuine ministry in the Church.” This decision could not have come at a better time in the United States. As many diocesan school systems dissolve, the duty to instruct children in the faith—more so than at any other time in recent memory—has fallen to lay volunteers.

And more laymen, at least while lockdowns were instituted, had found the time to take on this duty. In my own parish, a number of us who were working from home began volunteering for the weekday religious education program, where there never were enough catechists. I had taught similar classes earlier in my life on Sundays, first in college and then again when I had small children. In the first round, I instructed mostly younger children, for whom the weekly lessons were often about being nice to others and accepting God’s love, along with some Jesus stories. The second time, when I was volunteering at my parish, I joined forces with a friend who had a graduate degree in theology. He did the main work of the teaching, and he was not afraid to explain the sacraments and the life of Christ, including Good Friday and why the authorities pursued the Lord and John the Baptist. More of an assistant catechist, I just tried to keep the kids focused.

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About the author

Gerald J. Russello

Gerald J. Russello was the editor of the University Bookman. This article originally appeared in the Christmas 2021 edition of The Lamp magazine, which was dedicated to his memory.