Recently, I drove through the beautiful Iowa countryside to take my youngest daughter back to college. It was a gorgeous, picture perfect Iowa day—like you’d find in a tourism brochure. White, billowy clouds lazily hanging over the green and gold rolling fields. In spite the drought of 2012, most of the fields looked surprisingly tall and healthy. The sky was a brilliant blue and I found myself with eyes wide open just drinking it all in. From somewhere in my heart came a sound track I often hear at this time of year—“The harvest is plenty; the laborers are few. Come with me into the fields.” Yes, that’s from the gospel of Matthew but I have these words set to music in my heart. Not my own creation but that of an oldie but goodie from the St. Louis Jesuits. Their meditative song, “Come with me into the fields,” has stayed with me since I first heard it in college in the 70’s. Isn’t it funny how I can’t remember what I did an hour ago, but the lyrics and music of songs are alive in my heart?
Take a moment to listen now: Come with Me into the Fields by Dan Schutte
It is almost the harvest season in the farming communities of Iowa but it’s also the harvest season in the catechetical world. Not a harvest of plants but a harvest of people-catechists. I have been a catechetical leader for 23 years in the diocese and it has been my profound privilege to work with hundreds of catechists over the years. Working with them and helping them understand their ministry as a catechist is something I enjoy. I always tell them that even if they were responding to a note in the bulletin or a phone call from me, it’s really God that is doing the calling-the invitation to labor in the fields of faith formation is God’s. The word, catechesis, has an esteemed tradition in the Catholic faith and I share with them the Greek meaning of the word, to echo or to resound. So catechists are people of faith who have heard the word of God in their lives, hearts and minds, and want to echo, resound that Word to the children they will teach. They are truly walking into the fields of the children and youth’s hearts to plant the word of God deep within.
But it’s not just these dedicated men and women who shoulder the responsibility to share God’s Word with others. The General Directory for Catechesis reminds us that “Catechesis is the responsibility of the entire Christian community.” (220) We can support catechesis in our parishes through:
- remembering catechists in your prayers and kind words, even if we are not actively involved in this ministry
- offering words of encouragement when your parish recognizes them on Catechetical Sunday (September 15/16)
- giving thanks for their good work among us.
Mary Green is the director of Adult Faith Formation at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church in Ankeny. She has been a director of religious education for 23 years, most recently serving at St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines. You can reach Mary at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.