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Pakistan Church shakes up Sunday school ministry

Catholic Bishops' Commission for Catechetics holds training for catechism school coordinators

Pakistan Church shakes up Sunday school ministry

Father Francis Gulzar (left) with priests and members of the Presbyterian Pakistan Sunday School Ministry during training for Sunday school teachers at St. John’s Church in Youhanabad, Lahore, on July 11. (Photo supplied)

The Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Catechetics (CBCC) is calling for the renaming of Pakistan’s Sunday schools and changes to their Protestant syllabus.

The commission’s plans were outlined in a series of notifications on its Facebook page.

“Sunday schools do not teach making the sign of the cross and lack formation. Adding the term ‘Catholic’ doesn’t change their nature. Instead of focusing on catechism, their education is limited to the Holy Bible,” the CBCC said.

“They refer to Gospel writers by their names instead of calling them saints. We discourage cartoons of Biblical personalities in their syllabus.”

Sunday schools around Pakistan have been using Protestant Church books for lesson planning.

However, the CBCC is now preparing a catechism syllabus for students from nursery level to grade 10 in Catholic schools.

The new syllabus is more suited to our context where elders are respected to the utmost

“Priests will be encouraged to use the term ‘catechism schools’ at parish level. They can’t see the difference. For years we depended on the systems introduced by missionaries. Sunday schools have encouraged many Catholics to become pastors,” Emmanuel Neno, executive secretary of the CBCC, told UCA News. 

“The new syllabus is more suited to our context where elders are respected to the utmost. We dislike distorting pictures of our parents and elders and making their cartoons.”

Neno this month held training for catechism school coordinators from three dioceses in Punjab, Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese and the Catechist Training Centre. A workshop for coordinators in three southern dioceses is scheduled for September.

On July 11, Father Francis Gulzar, vicar general of Lahore Archdiocese, invited the Presbyterian Pakistan Sunday School Ministry to the training of 149 Sunday school teachers, including 54 Catholics, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Youhanabad, Lahore.

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“It’s the oldest ministry for Sunday schools. Most of the organizers are former Catholics who know our values. I have worked with them for two decades and initiated the Catholic Sunday School Ministry,” said Father Gulzar.

“Both Sunday schools and the charismatic movement were Catholic initiatives. We don’t seek any dissent with the catechetics commission but the basic purpose is to provide faith education to children.”

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