More than 200 catechists from across the Archdiocese of Cardiff came together in the city of Cardiff last Saturday for a full day of workshops on effective catechesis, and a keynote address from popular speaker, David Wells.
The conference was entitled 'Living Our Faith'. In his opening address, the newly-installed Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Revd George Stack, challenged the audience to ensure that the catechesis they give is always relevant for the real world. Were catechists presenting the faith in a way it can be lived out in practice? He recalled how the De La Salle brothers – who had educated him personally and founded the school where the conference was being held – had taught him to pray with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.
The workshops on offer included every kind of catechesis, from cradle to grave – from preparing parents for the baptism of their infants, to a session from Cardiff’s Family Life Commission on catechesis with the bereaved. In addition to the obvious topics, focussed on particular sacraments, other workshops considered lessons from Pope Benedict XVI (David Wells, Plymouth), integrating candidates with learning difficulties (Cristina Gangemi, Southwark) and using music and liturgy in catechesis (CJM). Other speakers, including The Tablet’s Diana Klein, were drawn from Southwark, Westminster, and Salford.
Among the more unusual presentations were a ‘multi-sensory table’ illustrating effective means of communicating with young children (including a gong to sound, perfume to smell and chocolate to taste!) and a demonstration of using props and role play to share the concept of reconciliation with an autistic child.
Most of the workshops were full to capacity, showing the great desire of catechists across South-East Wales and Herefordshire to become more effective in passing on their faith. Comments received at the end of the event included appreciation for the opportunity to share experiences with others, see the resources available, and learn from inspiring workshop leaders. One participant declared: “Really uplifting. Had my batteries charged!”
The event was closed by Mgr Robert Reardon, chair of the organising group, who thanked all those who attended and encouraged them to offer feedback so the diocese could support their future work in parishes and deaneries.