Forming and Sending Disciples

By Joel Padgett

Connecting Faith and Life

On Jan. 28 of this year, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel promulgated a new Catechetical Curriculum for our parishes and Catholic schools. In essence, the curriculum underlies and gives direction to the efforts within our diocese to help our youth grow in their knowledge of, love for and living out our faith. The document, entitled “Forming and Sending Disciples,” is published on our diocesan website at and will go into effect June 29, 2024, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. In his Decree promulgating the new curriculum, Bishop Siegel summed up its purpose goal in these words, “Formation of the heart and education of the mind lead to conversion of the soul as all are called to continually draw ever deeper and closer in relationship to our Lord throughout our lives.”

“Forming and Sending Disciples” is structured around six pillars. The first five pillars are what are typically referred to as the “tasks of catechesis.” Since Vatican II, there have been various directories of catechesis. The most recent of which was published in 2020. All of these directories underline the importance of striving to fulfill these tasks in order to lead people to the ultimate end of catechesis, which is essentially union with God. I’ll come back to the individual tasks, but before that, I think it’s important to understand how they fit into the framework of evangelization and catechesis.

The Directory for Catechesis (2020) spends a lot of time talking about both evangelization and catechesis. In the framework it proposes, evangelization is seen as the overall umbrella of the entire process of the Gospel (Evangelium in Latin) becoming our lives. (Most of the time, when someone mentions “evangelization,” they are referring to what is called “initial evangelization,” that is when someone is first introduced to Christ.) Within the framework of the directory, catechesis is seen as a privileged part of the process of evangelization. It is a life-long process that begins after a person’s initial conversion and continues until their entry into eternal life. It is the process through which Christ’s Paschal Mystery echoes ever deeper within one’s life and gradually transforms a person more and more into Christ’s likeness.

As mentioned above, catechesis’ goal, which is ultimately the same as that of evangelization, is that our lives become more fully conformed to Christ, in other words, that we increasingly imitate Christ more fully in our ways of thinking, speaking and acting. Now, relating this goal back to the tasks of catechesis, it becomes clear that the tasks are not the end goal. However, if they are fulfilled holistically, they lead us toward our goal. The tasks find their inspiration in Jesus’ model of forming his disciples, and they gradually transform our whole person, with God’s help, into missionary disciples.

Although the specific wording of each task may vary, in essence, they are the following:

  • Growing in my knowledge of God and of my Faith
  • Regularly, meaningfully and attentively participating in the Church’s liturgy and sacraments
  • Increasingly becoming more Christ-like in my thoughts, words and actions
  • Learning to pray with and like Christ and dedicating myself to personal prayer
  • Actively partaking in and fostering Christian community life
  • Intentionally engaging in missionary outreach and activity

Even though these tasks indeed serve as the primary pillars of our new catechetical curriculum, they are not meant to be limited to a formal curriculum. In fact, for each of us, they indicate a reliable path toward missionary discipleship and ultimately, by God’s grace, transformation in Christ. Taken as a whole, they also serve as indicators of our overall spiritual health. As our parishes and schools strive to help our youth grow in each of these tasks, why not take it to prayer and ask God how he might be inviting you to grow in each of them over the next year?