Why We Should Rethink The Catechetical Year

Summer has always been a time when we’re tempted to hit the pause button in our ministries, thinking everyone needs a well-deserved break. But what if this laid-back season is the perfect opportunity for something truly transformative in our spiritual communities?

Unlike the rigid schedules of the school year, summer offers longer days and a more relaxed pace, making it an ideal time to explore new and engaging approaches to ministry that step outside the usual classroom boundaries.

For example, our catechetical programs often mirror the academic year, starting in the fall and ending as the school bells ring for summer. However, the liturgical calendar begins with Advent. This mismatch has us constantly trying to keep up, rushing from one holy season to the next, barely catching our breath by Easter.

A Fresh Approach to Ministry Timing

Here’s what I’m thinking: What if we didn’t just fall in line with the academic year? What if we synced our spiritual formation with the rhythm of the liturgical calendar instead?

  • Change the Pace: We could start our formation programs closer to Advent, the true beginning of our liturgical year. This shift would initially be awkward because it will elongate the summer break; however, we can use it to gear up and plan more intentionally. Rather than winding down after Easter, we could use the Easter season as a springboard into summer, focusing on preparing our community for hands-on missions and local evangelism.
  • Talk About It: We need to get good at explaining why these changes are crucial. It’s about making sure everyone understands that this isn’t just a scheduling tweak—it’s a shift in how we perceive and live out our faith together. It's about making our faith journey more meaningful and less about ticking boxes.
  • Transform the Environment: In addition to schedule changes, we have to make sure we let go of anything that smells like school. Less reliance on textbooks and more on engaging, hands-on activities that foster real connections among people. Meeting outside (which a spring and summer schedule provides) or in public spaces (Think fast food restaurants or parks).

By reimagining how and when we engage with our community, especially during the summer, we can create a more vibrant, year-round ministry that truly nurtures the spiritual growth of our parishioners. Fall should not be the beginning, Easter isn't the end, and summer should be one of the most fruitful times for building faith and fellowship.

Let’s not conform to what's easy, but consider what might work to help our kids, teens, and families see parish life as something more than another activity during the school year. 

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