From a Lent with much suffering and dying to an Easter with signs of new life and much hope: this is the story of the catechumenate at Trinity Cathedral for the beginning of 2012.
Much of the story has been detailed in a previous post (“You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am”). Lent was a time of discussion with Anne McKeever, the Director of Youth & Adult Spiritual Formation (ASF), Lynell Walker, previous Director of Adult Spiritual Formation & part time rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Sacramento. Lynell has ministered in the catechumenate for many years and truly understands the process of spiritual formation it strives to provide. She is also excellent in giving people things to reflect upon after a meeting. I met with Brian Baker, Dean of the cathedral and the person who baptized an adult on the 2nd Sunday of Lent. In act, if not in theory, Brian advocates “easy grace” and minimal sacramental prep. Recently he admitted to me that he does not have a good understanding or appreciation of liturgy. But he did provide insight in getting me to admit that our current catechumenal process was ineffective. After thinking through some possible revisions of Trinity’s catechumenate, I met with our team to get input.
My proposal is to join in with the rest of the ASF program by developing and offering a series of basic courses throughout the year. Lynell’s insight was, “Jerry, when I’m leading Lunch Bunch or The Writing Circle or any of a bunch of groups, I’m doing catechumenate. Brian’s was, “I baptized because we don’t have a viable catechumenate.” and “The participants want answers. We need to offer some ‘101’ courses.”
How does all of this fit into a bigger picture? The plan is to teach intro courses all year round so that people will have that to get into when they join or after they finish the Newcomer’s classes. Then, in November, we start promoting the catechumenate for adults wanting to prepare for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, or Renewal. During Advent and Epiphany we will focus on “sacramental life.” We will have a Rite of Commitment in there (probably right after Christmas/New Year’). Two Sunday’s before Lent we will have a presentation of the Creed with a retreat on the Saturday before Lent begins. Enrollment on the First Sunday of Lent and go from there! During Lent the focus of the meetings will be the baptismal covenant as embodied in the Apostle’s creed. With a retreat on the creed as well, this might be too much emphasis. But the details still need to be worked out. Maybe changing some of the meeting times so that the candidates can actively participate in Stations of the Cross and other lenten prayer activities.
I’m excited by the prospects. It will be seen how well it draws. The classes and set time frame for actual “preparation” may get better response.