Hong Kong diocese has published tentative guidelines detailing clearly who can be catechists and the way they should teach, in a bid to improve the quality of teachers and the formation of adult catechumens. “Only with good teachers can we cultivate good Catholics, and it is especially important to improve the quality of teachers in the Year of the Laity,” said Amelia Lau, director of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre. The local Church began the special year on January 1 with an emphasis on attracting more Catholics and instilling in them their lay ministry. Many of the 580 “catechists” who teach adult catechumen actually do not know there are strict requirements regarding them and their work, and the guidelines are to make them clearer, she said. The guidelines list seven requirements expected of a catechist: To have a mature personality; been baptized at least three years; is actively practicing the faith; is willing to carry out the mission; is obedient to the Church; has had the appropriate training; and has been assigned by a parish priest. Those who do not meet these requirements, can be “companions” to help the catechumen, Lau said. There are nearly 1,500 catechists in the diocese; the majority of them are volunteers. Many welcomed the guidelines. William Chan, a catechist at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, said the guidelines will help parish priests choose suitable teachers. Anthony Lam, who has taught catechism for more than 20 years, said the guidelines set down a clear code of practice, such as catechists have to take heed of a catechumen’s marital situation and know when to refer certain cases to their priests. It also helps reduce differences in opinion among catechists while enhancing coordination between them and their priests now that all have a common reference source, he said. HK13460.1643
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