What's in a Name?

“In Arizona we use the catechumenate….but no one knows what that is, so we call it ‘Journey to Jesus.'” –Bishop Megan Traquier, January, 2019

We wrestled with the same issue at Trinity Cathedral in the mid-’90’s. Before then the preparation for baptism and/or confirmation was announced as “Confirmation Classes.” Either Rev Lynell Walker or Rev Grant Carey would teach them from early January until Baptism/Confirmation at the Easter Vigil. Grant’s were more academic; the content was church doctrine and history. Lynell’s were more “pastoral”; she helped participants come to a deeper sense of their baptismal call.

The Rev. Kathleen Kelly and I formed a catechumenate team in 1996. One of the first things we explored was the question of a name that said more than “confirmation class” but didn’t use the mysterious word “catechumenate.” Some congregations used “The Way.” This may have been the name used by the 4th Century church. Many Roman Catholic parishes use “RCIA.” Since they have been doing the catechumenate since the ’80’s, the term was familiar to people. We wanted to be different and came up with “Journey with Jesus (JwJ). Some, including Dean Baker, were not comfortable with that. It sounded too evangelical. In fact, Brian urged us to change the name. We changed to “Growing in Faith” and used that for two years.

Bishop Michael Curry visited the Diocese in 2014. The evening before the Diocesan Convention he visited Trinity and gave a stirring talk. Curry has a Southern Baptist evangelical style and is not afraid to talk about “Jeeesus.” He got our staid Episcopal congregation to respond “Amen!” numerous times. He did the same at the Convention. His preaching was marvelous! After he left, I went to Brian and asked if he still wanted us to keep “Growing in Faith.” He agreed to go back to “Journey with Jesus.” We have been using that nomenclature ever since.

What do you call your catechumenate? Sharing names is good.

About Jerry

Catechumenate ministry is my passion. I have been involved in the catechumenate since 1980 in both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal branches of the Church. I am a "progressive," ecumenical Christian who is realistic enough to know that the Church has never been "One"; is often not "Holy"; strives to be "Catholic" and is "Apostolic" only when members respect the Tradition rather than the latest customs. I have been fortunate to be able to focus on various elements of philosophy, theology and Christian history during my studies. I am able to bring them all to bear in catechumenate ministry.
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