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 remote 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 makes every possible effort to support 112 catechists serving in the diocese. Furthermore, with a sense of gratitude, we have decided to support the elderly and retired catechists and the widows of retired catechists", said to Fides Bishop Indrias Rehmat, at the head of the diocese of Faisalabad, in Pakistani Punjab.
The Bishop reports that the diocese distributes cash subsidies, food aid and even head of cattle for breeding to 30 elderly and retired catechists and their families, contributing to their daily livelihood. Mgr. Rehmat declares: "I strongly felt the need to appreciate and express 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 closely see the challenges our Catechists face in carrying out this ministry. In particular, with the Covid-19 pandemic we are experiencing a very difficult phase".
Furthermore, with the pandemic, the local Church activated medical insurance policies last year for the 112 catechists currently in service to cover the cost of medical expenses if they get ill or suffer health damage due to the coronavirus.
"Our catechists - notes the Bishop - receive, for their full-time work at the service of the Church, a rather low salary: we recognize and appreciate their apostolic service, carried out with zeal and dedication, in the midst of so many challenges". For this reason, the Church of Faisalabad has started 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 appreciate also our Christian faithful for their generosity and support for the missionary work of our Catechists; I urge priests, religious and faithful to support their great work and help them for the important pastoral and missionary work".
Speaking of the work entrusted to the Catechists, the Bishop observes: "The challenges in the ministry of the Catechists increase day by day. There is the rapid growth of Pastors and communities of other denominations creating small self-assigned churches and ministries for them; there are erroneous interpretations of faith, also present on the Internet and on social networks. Furthermore, with rising inflation, it is increasingly difficult to meet household expenses and basic needs. Often our catechists are forced to do a double job to live, which takes away time from pastoral visits to family members, to satisfy 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 Catechists' in the diocese of Faisalabad, starting with an in-depth study of the document of Pope Francis' Antiquum Minsterium. The aim is precisely to enhance the apostolic service and the precious evangelizing mission of our Catechists, expressing gratitude for what they do, patiently helping the faithful to take root and grow in faith, hope and charity". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/12/2021)