Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) - "Catechists are skilled collaborators of priests, they help them in carrying out the mission of Christ and the mission of the Church. We have declared the year 2022 as the 'Year of Catechists' to be united with the Pope in highlighting the vocation of the catechist, to appreciate the services of our catechists in the diocese and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the formation center for catechists existing in our diocese. All the lay faithful are called to appreciate and support the vocation of our catechists": this is what Msgr. Indrias Rehmat, Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Faisalabad, in the Pakistani province of Punjab, tells Fides.
The Bishop says: "In this year we want in particular to recognize and appreciate the valid and precious work of catechists, who travel long distances to reach people, families and small groups of faithful scattered in remote villages. Our goal is also that our faithful recognize their ministry and help them continue their good works with more zeal and dedication".
The Bishop continues: "In our diocese there are more than 100 catechists, about 20 are retired, but they still continue to carry out their service, due to a lack of catechists. They have very large areas to cover, given that in the territory of each of our parishes there are between 50 and 300 villages". "We have also planned - says Bishop Indrias Rehmat - to provide our catechists with help in knowledge and formation, so that they can in turn offer an authentic faith formation to our faithful, while we are witnessing the rapid growth of Pentecostal sects".
The Prelate observes: "This is another challenge in the diocese: several Pentecostal pastors of communities born independently, go from house to house and sometimes persuade our faithful". Msgr. Indrias Rehmat on the feast of St. Mark (April 25) expressed full appreciation for the catechists of his diocese and awarded them recognition for the tireless effort in announcing the Good News to the faithful, amidst the challenges of family life, financial difficulties and the difficulties of modern society. Underlining the role of catechists in the evangelizing mission of the Church, the Bishop said: "I appreciate these catechists who live the missionary vocation: their ministry is essential to preserve the authentic Catholic faith in the population of our diocese. I want to make every possible effort to support them, appreciate them and be with them as Pastor of this particular Church".
Bishop Indrias Rehmat, after his consecration as Bishop of the diocese of Faisalabad, showed great attention towards the catechists of his diocese. Among other aids, he supported his catechists to formulate medical insurance in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also supported 30 retired catechists and the widows of catechists, in conditions of poverty, by having them distribute cash subsidies, food aid and livestock to support families after the Covid-19 pandemic (see Fides, 7/12/2021).
The Bishop concludes: "Catechists are the first arms and legs of the Church, who arrive in the various places before the priests. I encourage all priests and religious to give them due respect as individuals and as important missionaries in the community. At the same time, I confirm that I want to support catechists as much as possible, who are often in economic difficulties due to the rapid increase in the cost of living, so that their families are not affected". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/5/2022)