Reimagining the Catechumenate

By Charles Mantey, JBL:NAAC Board Member

Even after working with the catechumenate for over twelve years in two congregations, I keep learning new things. What is supposed to be a process attuned to spiritual formation can easily become a program which ignores the needs and desires of the individuals we are serving. Fortunately, the Spirit keeps inviting us into new things or throwing a curve ball that we cannot ignore.

The Spirit Throws a Curve Ball
This became clear in my current parish as we began the inquiry process this fall, much as we have been doing for the last seven years. The Spirit threw a curve ball. For the first time in all the years I have been doing the catechumenate, one person alone is inquiring — one who is very keen on going through the process.

It became clear that we needed to shake things up a bit. Not only because we have only one person interested in the catechumenate, but because things have begun to feel a little too packaged.

Change in the Forecast
Change had been in the forecast. We were looking forward to implementing some ideas from “Becoming the Story We Tell.” (The JBL:NAAC Gathering, January 9-11 in Orlando will introduce us to this process developed by the Canadian Anglican church.)  Turns out however, our church was due for a change a year earlier.

Our first response was, “we can’t do this with one person.” Then it came to us: “Why can’t we?” The curve ball forced us to think creatively. The wonderful thing about the catechumenate is that it is not a program. It can be aligned to a particular setting and context in each parish. It can and should evolve, even as circumstances change.

Looking Forward
We are blessed with a dedicated catechumenal leadership team who have become excited about new ideas. Planning is even now under way, so we don’t know quite yet where this will end up. We’re keeping our minds open to the new things we are just beginning to discern. We look forward to what the new year will bring and to see what the Spirit may throw next.

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