Checking faith development ‘to-do lists’


Bernadette Sweetman explores using
Share the Good News as a catechetical resource.




A pilgrim with a rosary wrapped around her hand prays during the World Youth Day closing Mass on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro July 28. Photo: CNS

A journey is always easier with a map. But a journey that is open to growth and learning must be open to by-passes and detours. In Share the Good News: The National Directory for Catechesis (SGN, 36), we have four guideposts – themes that underpin the task of evangelisation:

  • Proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel message (kerygma/ martyria);
  • Building up a caring Church community based on Gospel values (koinonia);
  • Celebrating faith in worship, prayer and through liturgical participation – in communion with God, in Jesus Christ, and with one another (leitourgia);
  • Service to neighbour, particularly the most poor and most vulnerable, the work of justice (diakonia).


These guideposts are open to our God-given creativity. No matter the context: personal, small group; parish; diocese or more, we can all ask ourselves how are we faring at actualising each theme? We can ask ourselves how are we witnesses to the Gospel? How do our lives speak of Gospel values? We can examine our understanding of community and how we express that sense of kinship. We can look to how we can be more giving to those in need.

Sometimes we can all benefit from plain speaking, as Pope Francis said – where do we start? In what could be a to-do list, following the General Directory for Catechesis, SGN promotes their fulfilment within the framework of six fundamental tasks of catechesis:

  • Promoting knowledge of the faith;
  • Liturgical education;
  • Moral Formation – motivating us to service of God and neighbour;
  • Teaching to Prayer;
  • Educating for Community Life;
  • Missionary initiation.
  • Structures

Supporting these tasks, the four themes have traditionally informed the structures of Catholic catechisms, and they can also be signposts along the way for our everyday lives: providing us direction for our daily decisions and activities. In Catholic catechisms, we are offered the following complimentary structure:

  • The Profession of Faith (the Creed);
  • The Celebration of Christian Mystery (the Sacraments);
  • Life in Christ (the Beatitudes and Commandments);
  • Prayer in the Christian Life (the Lord’s Prayer).

This serves as a way of explaining the reasons for the structure of our catechisms, yet we, must always be aware of this danger – our faith is not confined to purely doctrinal. Our faith, as Pope Francis says “is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light which touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion.” (Lumen Fidei, 40)


Our ‘faith development to-do lists’ are important. They give us a clear plan to follow and to work towards. We must always remember the reality, as urged by Pope Francis at WYD 2013:

“Dear young people, please, don’t be observers of life, but get involved. Jesus did not remain an observer, but he immersed himself. Don’t be observers, but immerse yourself in the reality of life, as Jesus did.”