ASIA / PAKISTAN – The Church supports catechists, the engine of the mission
Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) – “Catechists play an important role in the evangelizing mission of the Church; in our diocese, many of our catechists travel long distances to visit small isolated communities. Their ministry is essential to preserve and teach the Catholic faith to the faithful. of our diocese and to make them feel the closeness of the Church. The Church does everything to support 112 catechists serving in the diocese. In addition, with a feeling of gratitude, we have decided to support elderly and retired catechists and the widows of retired catechists ”, Mgr Indrias Rehmat, head of the diocese of Faisalabad, in the Pakistani Punjab, told Fides.
The bishop reports that the diocese distributes cash grants, food aid and even heads of cattle for breeding to 30 elderly and retired catechists and their families, thus contributing to their daily subsistence. Mgr. Rehmat says: “I felt strongly the need to appreciate and express my gratitude to our catechists after the Holy Father published his apostolic letter ‘Antiquuum Ministerium’ with the establishment of the ministry of catechists. We are grateful to Pope Francis for this, because we are closely seeing the challenges our catechists face in the exercise of this ministry. In particular, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are living a very difficult phase “.
Additionally, with the pandemic, the local church last year activated medical insurance policies for the 112 catechists currently on duty to cover medical costs if they fall ill or suffer health damage from the coronavirus. .
“Our catechists – notes the Bishop – receive, for their full-time work in the service of the Church, a fairly low salary: we recognize and appreciate their apostolic service, accomplished with zeal and dedication, in the midst of so many challenges” . For this reason, the church of Faisalabad launched the project to use 30 plots of land, intended for housing, for catechists, especially for the elderly or retired, in order to give them a place to live. The bishop adds: “We also appreciate our Christian faithful for their generosity and their support for the missionary work of our catechists; I urge priests, religious and faithful to support their great work and to help them for the important pastoral and missionary work ”.
Speaking of the work entrusted to catechists, the bishop observes: “The challenges in the ministry of catechists are increasing day by day. There is a rapid growth of pastors and communities of other denominations creating small churches and self-assigned ministries for them; there are erroneous interpretations of the faith, also present on the Internet and on social networks. In addition, with the rise in inflation, it is increasingly difficult to meet household expenses and basic needs. Often our catechists are obliged to do a double job in order to live, which takes away from pastoral visits to family members, to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful “. The Bishop concludes:” In the time of preparation for the Synod, Between 2021 and 2023, we intend to proclaim the Year 2022 as the “Year of the Catechists” in the diocese of Faisalabad, starting with an in-depth study of the document of the Antiquum Minsterium of Pope Francis. The aim is precisely to promote apostolic service. and the precious evangelizing mission of our catechists, expressing their gratitude for what they do, patiently helping the faithful to take root and grow in faith, hope and charity “. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/7/2021)