Jerry Pare’ was first introduced to the catechumenate while studying at the University of Notre Dame in the early ’80’s. I have been blessed to be able to do catechumenate ministry at various levels and in various denominations through the years. And I believe that the catechumenate has been a leaven for the church throughout her life. I spend a lot of time pondering “matters catechumenal” and want to share those reflections on these pages. Your reflections and comments will be appreciated in turn.
More concretely: I was baptized as a Roman Catholic Christian infant and formed by Christian parents who took their baptismal covenant (even though they wouldn’t call it that) very seriously. I went to Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon as a high school freshman and left after my sophomore year of college. I studied philosophy and history of religions at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). Rather than return to the seminary as I planned, I married and moved to Southern California with my wife, Mary. I decided to continue in the area of theology with the hope of teaching at a college, seminary or university. At one point I dreamed of returning to Mt. Angel as a lay theologian. That would have been a disaster. Theologically, I am too progressive to ever teach there. I focused on Scripture during a Master’s program at Claremont School of Theology and moved on to the University of Notre Dame to study systematic theology.
While at Notre Dame I was introduced to the catechumenate at our local parish. I enjoyed “adult education.” The catechumenate drew me in. After finishing studies at Notre Dame I became the first RCIA Director for the local Diocese of Ft Wayne-South Bend. I was also active in the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. (That organization dissolved in 2013. This was a loss for the Roman Catholic Church.) After a few years I became the first Executive Director of the National Council for Catholic Evangelization. I ministered at the parochial level on a catechumenate team at our local parish in Chicago.
Our daughter, Jacquelyn, was born in 1990. We moved back to the West Coast to be closer to our families. I joined a catechumenate team at our parish. Ironically, involvement in that team inspired my decision to cross over to the Episcopal branch of the Church. In 1995 I discovered that the Episcopal Church also has room for and rites for the catechumenate. I am currently Catechumenate Director at Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, California, a consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California and a board member on the Journey to Baptismal Living (formerly North American Association for the Catechumenate)
There are numerous stories associated with the above brief description of my journey. Some will emerge in the following reflections.