Agents of Faith, Hope & Love (1 Cor 13:13)
Dear Rev Frs., Rev. Deacons, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
CATECHETICAL SUNDAY 2021
Theme: Parish Communities: Agents of Faith, Hope, Love
The Church in Malaysia celebrates Catechetical Sunday on 31st January 2021. The celebration this year will be different from ones in the past, as we continue to face the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. Certainly, the manner by which we celebrate the Eucharist or carry out parish activities and events, has been ordered by the requirements of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), to safeguard the health and well-being of parishioners. Parish programs and events are now mainly held via social media and other online means.
However, regardless of how much parish life – as we know it – has been affected, whatever the circumstances or challenges, the mission of the parish must to continue. Therefore, it may prove beneficial to ask ourselves: “How are we responding as a community of believers in the face of Covid-19?” “How creative and effective have we been in reaching out to the poor, sick, lonely, and the vulnerable?” “Have we adapted to the norms of the digital age, and learnt new methods of online communication to reach out lovingly to others?” The Covid-19 pandemic brings forth new challenges, but also opportunities for us to live and carry out the mission of Christ as members of the parish community.
The Catechetical Sunday message for 2021, highlights the importance of belonging to a parish community, and how each of us, as part of the community, can respond as an agent of Faith, Hope and Love, especially within our present circumstances. I earnestly encourage you to read the message and to discern as to what the Lord is saying to you during this time. The message is available in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil, Chinese and Iban languages.
At the same time, I encourage you, together with your parish priest, to discover new ways to celebrate Catechetical Sunday in 2021 as a parish community. Regardless of the circumstances, it is a special day dedicated to remembering and recommitting ourselves to our roles and responsibilities in the task of catechesis; Be it as clergy, religious, catechists, parents, learners or as a parish community at large.
I pray that our parish priests, together with parents and catechists, will discover creative and effective ways of handing down the faith to our children. We must give Jesus to our youth so that they will know Him and be possessed by Him.
To all catechists, I express my gratitude for your dedication in continuing your ministry in the face of numerous challenges, and for willing to adapt and learn new knowledge and skills to impart the faith to our learners via online methods. To catechists who are still struggling to adapt to new ways of teaching, I encourage you not to give up, but to persevere in acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills. Let us turn to the Holy Spirit for His guidance and help.
To all parents, I thank you for faithfully fulfilling your responsibilities by having your children attend catechism sessions, despite the various difficulties that come with online learning. It is essential for parents to ensure that their children continue to receive proper and regular education in the faith, especially during these times.
Finally, to all children and young people, never stop learning about God and your Catholic faith. Take the opportunity to participate actively and regularly in the classes conducted by your catechists. God loves you and wants to reveal Himself to you during these classes.
Wishing you a Blessed Catechetical Sunday 2021.
With warmest regards,
+Most Rev Julian Leow Beng Kim, DD
Episcopal President for Catechetics
CATECHETICAL SUNDAY MESSAGE: 31ST JANUARY 2021
Parish Communities: Agents of Faith, Hope, Love
God never intended for us to live alone. He calls us to share, serve, heal, work and worship in and with our communities. Church communities are made up of members who come from different backgrounds, ages, experiences and personalities. Captivated by God’s mercy, they respond generously to God’s call whenever they gather as a community, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and to participate in parish activities. Being an imperfect people, members of these communities also face challenges, constantly struggling with human weaknesses and threatened by opposing forces.
It is undeniable that every move and action within our parish communities, and the Church as a whole, is being scrutinised not only by non-Catholics, but by parishioners themselves, and even by the newly-baptized. Therefore, together as a community, we need to build a good image of the parish through our words and deeds, because we play a vital role in the task of evangelization.
The fundamental virtues of Faith, Hope and Love is the foundation to every Christian life (1 Corinthians 13: 13). As members of the parish community, we should clothe ourselves in Christ (Galatian 3:27), with the virtues of faith and love as a breastplate and our hope of salvation as a helmet (1 Thessalonians 5:8), so as to glorify God and be in communion with each other. We must humble ourselves to practice and cultivate these virtues in order to bear fruit. We must not be influenced by worldly values which are damaging to the life of the parish community. To live the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, we need to imitate Mother Mary and allow the Holy Spirit to make good use of us as an instrument of love and peace. By doing so, we hope to attract more people to enter into God’s vineyard, to receive His grace, and to bring back to life the ‘dead’ in the community.
As leaders and members of the parish community, we must uphold these virtues. Otherwise, we may stray from the true teachings of God, and our spirituality and morality will be compromised. We may be consumed with pride, self-righteousness, dissatisfaction, jealousy and become judgemental of others; We may be blind to our own mistakes and sins, which may lead to divisions and intolerance toward each other. As scripture says: “The blind cannot lead the blind” (Luke 6:39-42). Neither will we be capable of love and compassion for others, or lead the lost sheep back to God.
As agents of Faith, Hope and Love, we cannot take our role for granted. We should each do our small part and strive to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13- 16) in our daily life, as our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, did. Let us start by seeing Christ in others, and also by being Christ to them by bringing joy, healing and restoration to all. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” (Saint Teresa of Calcutta). And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).