Catechism, Trúfræðsla

Meeting of the Nordic Commission for Catechesis in Denmark

Dear priests, nuns and faithful all of the Diocese of Reykjavík:

I am writing to tell you a little about my experience in Denmark. From Tuesday the 28th to Thursday the 30th of March the catechism representatives from Scandinavia met at the Monastery of the Sisters of Saint Bridget in Maribo south of Copenhagen.

Two members of the catechism department from Sweden participated in the meeting, three from Norway, 2 from Denmark, 1 from Finland and myself from Iceland. On Wednesday morning we have the presence of Monsignor Kozon, Bishop of Denmark.

Listening to the presentations from the other countries we can see that, although we are all Scandinavian countries, there are many differences in the realities that the Catholic Church must face.

Upon arriving at the meeting place after settling in, those from Denmark made their presentation. They showed the different jobs they have been doing this past year. They have a webshop where they sell catechism and devotional books, as well as rosaries, images, etc. On the catechism website they have a lot of written material and also videos on different topics. This year they have reissued some of the preparation books for first communion. The catechism department is also in charge of the liturgical part of the diocese. They have been in charge of editing the new Missal, as well as the liturgy of the hours, 4 volumes, on which they are currently working.

They are also working on the translation of Bishop Barron’s book Catholicism, and the translation of the book that was used for the production of the SICAMOR videos. As well as in the translation of the new catechetical directory published by the pontifical council for the promotion of the new evangelization.

On Wednesday we began with the Holy Mass celebrated by Bishop Kozon and concelebrated by Father Oddvar from Norway.

The first presentation of that day was from Finland. The person in charge of the catechism in Finland is also director of education for the diocese. In Finland there is the particularity that if there are 3 students in a class at school who ask for the subject of Catholic religion, the State is obliged to provide a teacher. It is so, that he is in charge of finding the teachers who will give those hours of religion in the school. Many of the children who participate in religion classes at school do not participate in parish life. That is why it is the only moment of contact they can have. In the parishes the preparation for the reception of the sacraments is made. In addition, they have prepared books for each year of catechism. A dream in Finland is to be able to found a Catholic school.

Then it was the turn of the presentation of the representative of MISSIO nordica. Anna from Sweden, presented the work that MISSIO does in the Church and explained how it originated, it was the young Pauline Jaricot who started making prayer groups for the missions where each member donated a penny for the missions. Little by little this apostolate spread, receiving the approval of the bishop of her diocese in 1822 when she was only 22 years old. MISSIO is the official body of the Pope to help the missions.

Anna’s presentation helped to see how we can involve this in the catechism in the dioceses, give a missionary impulse to our children and young people. Different ideas arose on how to make those being catechized aware of the need for the mission and to help the missions spiritually and materially….

In the afternoon it was my turn to present our diocese. There I commented on the reality of our island. The different parishes and realities of the missionaries here. That we are still working on completing the class curriculum and putting it on the website of the Catholic Church in Iceland.

Then, the Norwegian representatives presented their reality and the work done this year. In Norway they have 3 dioceses, in a wide territory and with a variety of realities. This year they have worked on the translation of the youcat for confirmation, and they have made books for teachers, which include a training homily for the catechist, and a series of activities to do with the children. Also, the website has supplementary material. They are also working on the translation of the youcat for children. They have already printed the youcat for the confession. They have made a series of SICAMOR videos and also some videos for children.

They have also edited the letter “Samaritanus Bonus”, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the care of people in the critical and terminal phases of life. 

That day, at the end of the exhibitions, we were able to visit the cathedral in Maribo, which before the reform was the Church of the Sisters of Saint Bridget and of the monks. There the sacristan showed us the relics that they found hidden in a great Christ on a cross that is in the Church and a chalice from the Catholic time. 

On Thursday after the Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Oddvar, it was Sweden’s turn. In the catechism commission there is a team of 4 people working constantly. They are organizing a national catechism congress this year. And they hold catechist courses every year, they gather in different cities. Sometimes the same parishes ask them to visit them. 3 times a year they make a newsletter, there they post the new publications they have had, etc. 

Every two years they celebrate the day of the catechist, and then they invite all the catechists to the capital, hold workshops, and meet with the bishop. 

They have had catechism books for each grade of school for a long time, and they continue to sell these books through the webshop.

They also make advent calendars. Training videos. Booklets for confession.

They have done a series of 30-day podcasts, with gospel, questions to meditate on.

They have started with the Instagram channel.

They have posted the SICAMOR videos, they are videos for adults and children with accompanying questions to discuss.

They have also made a series of videos for confirmation, explaining different topics.

For each Sunday they have a card with the Sunday gospel and an explanation for the children.

On the KPN website they have different help items for catechists, with crafts, ideas, etc.

On their Facebook page they put different materials and, in this way, they communicate with all the catechists, and there they make comments and share experiences.

As you can see there is a lot to learn from the other Scandinavian countries, they have many ideas and initiatives that it would be good to put into practice in our diocese.

Reflecting on the differences that we have with them, I think that the most relevant factors are: they have people dedicated 100% to this work, most of them are natives of the country or at least grew up in that country, for which the language is not an impediment to them… . They have monetary resources dedicated to the production of printed and digital material.

I think that finally, in addition to appealing to everyone’s generosity to become more actively involved in the preparation of material for our diocese, I believe that we must not lose sight of the fact that what matters is that each one of us seek union with God and then that is reflected in our daily apostolate. Our mission is to bring souls closer to God through the sacraments and help them have that personal encounter with Jesus Christ and a very close relationship, especially with Jesus in the Eucharist.

Sister Pentecostes 

Related Posts