Faith Formation Department
Department of Catechesis, St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago
From the very beginning of the erection of the diocese itself, it has given greater importance to the Faith Formation ministry of the faithful under the direction of the Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath. Later in 2012 Bishop appointed Fr. Antony Thundathil as the first director of the Catechetical department of the Eparchy. Later in 2014 Fr. Dr. Augustin Palackaparampil became the catechetical director of the diocese. In 2018, the Bishop appointed Fr. Dr. George Danavelil, as the first fulltime director of the catechetical department of the eparchy. Now the department functions with its own office setup in the diocesan administrative office complex, Suite 219, 310 West lake street, Elmhurst, 60126, Illinois. The catecheticaldepartment of the St. Thomas Syro Malabar diocese engaged in all the activities directed by the Catechetical directory of the Syro Malabar Church.
In our diocese, at present 8517 students are attending the Sunday School faith formation programs in various parishes and mission centers and there are 1660 catechists to teach them. So, the student teacher ratio is 1: 5.13, this ratio shows that there are enough catechists in our diocese. All these catechists are doing volunteer service and they consider it as a vocation.
As per the tradition of the Syro Malabar Church, in our diocese also there is one-hour faith formation classes for all the children from the age 4- 17 on Sundays. It is mandatory for all the children in the diocese and these Sunday school classes are very systematically going on in all the parishes and mission stations of our diocese. The Sunday School classes begin either before or after the Sunday liturgical celebration excepts in summer holidays. At the beginning of the academic year, every year, the bishop sends a pastoral letter to the priests, religious and lay faithful by reminding them about their role and responsibilities in the faith formation program for the younger generation.
For the Sunday School faith formation program, the Syro Malabar Synodal Commission for Catechesis has prepared a textbook series, On the Path of Salvation, from kindergarten to XII grades and in all the parishes of the diocese, we use this textbook series. Besides this textbook series the diocese also uses the Teacher’s Guide and supplementary textbooks prepared by the Synodal Commission for Catechesis. The diocesan catechetical department has published a workbook series for the students of each grade. All these materials are useful to give proper faith formation to children according to the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary tradition of our Church.
For the faith formation program the diocese uses the textbooks prepared by the Syro Malabar Synodal Commission for Catechesis from Kindergarten to XII grade. In addition to these textbooks, we use the supplementary materials, prepared by the Synodal Commission, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholicism series, books on the theology of the body, Docat and Youcat. Syro- Malabar Synodal Commission for Catechesis has its own website with smart catechism program and it is useful for the faith formation program of the diocese. The audios and videos prepared by the synodal Commission is also useful for the diocesan program.
In almost all our parishes, there exists different associations, movements and group of Christian faithful. Usually these grouping are made based on age, charism or activities. Associations working in the fields of catechesis are Holy childhood, Marian Sodality, Cherupushpam Mission League (an association mainly for Sunday school students originated in the Syro Malabar Church, in India, for promoting the vocation to priesthood and religious life and they also support the mission by prayer and by finance), group of altar servers and Jesus Youth. They are very active in almost all our parishes. All these groups help the members of the Church to practice and live according to the Christian faith in their life situation which they learned from the Sunday school classes. They also teach them to lead a Christian life in every life situation of their lives.
FUNCTIONS OF THE EPARCHIAL CATECHETICAL DEPARTMENT
Catechetical directory of the Syro-Malabar Church, Call and Response, clearly indicates the functions of the Eparchial Catechetical Department (no.134-136).
- Formulate syllabus and curriculum for the academic year
- Supply textbook for catechesis and other study material for the ministry
- Conduct examination and issue certificate at the eparchial level
- Conduct teacher training programs
- Organize various programs for the students, catechists and parents
- Help the parishes and missions by providing resource persons and catechetical materials
ADDITIONAL FUNCTIONS OF THE EPARCHIAL DEPARTMENT OF FAITH FORMATION
The Eparchial Department of Faith Formation assists the Bishop of the diocese in organizing and conducting various faith formation programs in the diocese. Among the additional responsibilities of the Department of Faith Formation Office are the following:
- to serve as a liaison between the bishop and the parishes of the diocese regarding the catechetical ministry
- the Department of Faith Formation will prepare question papers for the midterm and final examinations for all grades and will give certificates to the twelfth-grade graduates
- the department will conduct Bible Quiz at the diocesan level
- to provide on-going personal, professional and theological development of catechists and catechetical leaders
- to collaborate with other diocesan offices in order to provide for the catechetical needs of children, youth and adults
- to encourage, motivate and affirm catechists and catechetical leaders
- to assist parishes in complying with the directives of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops requirements for Safe Environment and the diocesan directives.
- assist foranes/regions to organize competitions and other forane/regional level programs.
- recognition of the best Sunday school at the forane/parish and the mission levels
- a team will be formed to visit the parishes and to evaluate the catechetical activities of the parish
- parish consultation on catechetical matters
- assistance in the recruitment, approval, orientation, ongoing formation and retention of parish catechists
- ongoing updates to catechetical staff concerning important church documents and recommendations that pertain to catechesis
- promoting solid catechetical foundations and effective programs in the areas of catechetics, liturgy, scripture, theology, youth ministry, evangelization, and ministry formation;
- collaborating with other diocesan departments and parish staff members in pastoral activity aimed at developing strong faith communities.
MOTTO, VISION AND MISSION
“Be Alive to God” (Gal.2/19)
We envisage to motivate our young ones to Learn, Love, Live and Proclaim Jesus, the Lord and God in and through the Church as Syro Malabar Catholics in the present U.S. context.
- To prepare persons to live authentic Catholic lives in a culture that is increasingly diverse, complex and challenging.
- To teach to carry on the Treasury of Faith and Tradition of the Syro Malabar Church
- To form spiritually, morally, emotionally, socially, mature disciples of the Lord
- To help persons to live a counter-cultural life of witnessing
Along with the above tasks, the Catechetical Department also aims at fulfilling the following tasks of catechesis:
- Providing the proper Knowledge of Faith
- Liturgical Formation
- Moral Formation
- Teaching to pray
- Formation of Family/Community life
- Missionary initiation
- Vocation promotion
OUR CORE VALUES
- Agape – Divine love of the Holy Eucharist
- Koinonia – One in Christ, the fellowship Jesus wants
- Diakonia – Serving Christ and people as Good Samaritans
- Kenosis - Self-emptying life of humility
- Kerygma – Proclaim the Good News to the ends of the earth
- Didache – Adherence to the Apostolic teachings
- Eucharistia – live the Paschal mystery
We, parents, pastors and catechists are committed to give our students a quality faith formation program with a view to concretize our vision and mission into reality.