Blessings of the New Year.
As we begin the new year, we are thankful to God for giving us the strength and courage to overcome our past challenges, and seek His grace to face future ones with faithfulness and hope. Among the numerous challenges we faced in the past year was the drastic transformation in the way catechism lessons were imparted to our young people. Catechists and students had to learn quickly to move away from the traditional classroom teaching-learning approach and adapt to online methods. This has not always been easy for the catechists, students, and parents. In this regard, I wish to express my gratitude to parents for their support and cooperation in ensuring that their children continue to learn their faith even during these challenging times.
New Catechetical Year
The faith education of our young ones is an integral part of the Church’s life and mission. As such, this task cannot be delayed or neglected regardless of the circumstances. For 2021, catechism lessons will begin in all the dioceses soon. For now, we are uncertain whether the COVID-19 pandemic situation will improve so as to enable catechetical lessons to be con ducted in the classrooms. If not, students will have to participate in online lessons held via apps such as Zoom, Google Meet and others. In view of this, I wish to state a few points which I hope parents will be attentive to with regards to the catechetical formation of their children.
Registering your Child for Catechism
Most parishes have already begun making arrangements to register students for catechism for 2021. We urge parents who have not registered their children to do so. In some cases, the registration will be done via online means, for example, Google Forms. Regardless of the method used, please follow the directives given by the parish priest and the catechetical team with regards to this matter. In the event you are registering your child or children for the first time with the parish and are unsure how to proceed, kindly contact the parish office.
Your Child’s Participation in Online Lessons
A number of issues have to be considered:
i. Participation in catechism lessons
While we are aware that not every child will be able to participate in the lessons conducted online due to certain reasons, especially the lack of or poor internet connectivity or the lack of appropriate electronic gadgets, it is essential that students who have access to these facilities participate in the lessons. Parents have to give priority to the faith education of their children and ensure that their children attend the catechism lessons on the day and at the time set by their catechist.
ii. Active participation
There are instances where students sign in to the online lesson but switch off the video during the lesson. This results in the catechist becoming uncertain whether the student is actually taking part in the lesson. We seek the assistance of parents to ensure that their children participate actively in each lesson from start to finish.
iii. Parental attention and guidance
Children in pre-school years or lower primary classes require more parental attention and guidance during this time. The assistance of parents in collaborating, where possible, with the catechist in guiding and teaching the faith to their younger children whether via online lessons or other means, will be much appreciated.
iv. Communication between parent and catechist
As mentioned earlier, there may be stu dents who are unable to participate in online lessons because of the lack of or poor internet connectivity, the lack of electronic gadgets or other feasible reasons. In such instances, we encourage parents to communicate with the catechist and find other suitable ways by which their children can continue to receive proper and ongoing catechetical formation.
I am aware that each parish will be facing unique challenges with regards to how catechism is to be organised and conducted. I am confident that the parish catechetical team, under the guidance of the parish priest, will work with the parents to meet these challenges. In all matters, however, the parish priest will make the final decision.
Finally, I wish to remind parents that they are the primary catechists of their children. I strongly urge parents to take this responsibility seriously so that, together with the help of the parish priest and the catechists, our young people will continue their catechism and grow in maturity in their relationship with God, and in the Catholic faith.
Most Rev Julian Leow Beng Kim, DD
Episcopal President Malaysian Catechetical Commission