"New Beginnings" for New Beginners

by Joyce Stolberg

Even as we draw our mystagogia season to a celebratory conclusion, we are preparing for the coming year. Especially for those who have received no prior Christian initiation, education, or inculturation, inaugurating the new inquiry or precatechumenate sessions during the spring and summer months offers opportunity for the seeds of faith to take root and begin to grow.

Go to the section titled "New Beginnings" in the supplement of the catechist edition of God Calls You by Name. You will find a series of very basic lessons oriented toward evangelization and initial catechesis. They introduce many of the topics that are discussed in detail in the main body of God Calls You by Name; materials are presented in a very simple, informal format. The first 10 lessons are designed to correspond with the liturgy of the Sundays between Easter and the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Subsequent lessons are designed to correspond with the liturgies of summertime, and they correlate spiritual growth with the natural growth of summer. These simple lessons are addressed to the catechist, unlike the lessons in God Calls You by Name, which are addressed directly to the learner; therefore, you do not need to provide books for your participants at this early juncture. All these lessons are very versatile and can be used in many ways. Even if you conduct an inquiry session once or twice per month throughout the summer, you can use these lessons to present materials very simply. The concept at this stage is to facilitate spiritual growth and development in an informal comfortable setting and to introduce catechetical material that will be covered in a more organized fashion in the formal autumn process. These lessons may be paired or grouped to adjust to your timeframe. They are also designed to allow plenty of time for storytelling, group formation, and for answering basic questions.

Organize some fun activities as well. Cookouts and picnics provide ideal occasions for bringing your new catechumens and inquirers together with your neophytes. Both groups can interact, share experiences, and build community in the Lord together. These activities will keep neophytes engaged and foster their growth as new Catholics.

Remember to take care of yourself. Take time out during the summer months to recharge your own spiritual and emotive life, and to enjoy the beauty of God's creation.