Making the Shift to a (More) Household-centered Catechesis – Bill Huebsch

We are reviving some of the older texts published on this blog by prominent members of the Church in the US. We hope you enjoy this article by Bill Huebsch, originally published in 2015.

Pope Francis has called on all of us to become what he calls “spirit-filled evangelizers.” In other words, he wants us to invite others and welcome them, to live convincingly and to speak up about our faith when the right moment presents itself. The starting point for such a mission is in the home. We tend toward a parish-centered approach, one in which we tend to see the church and the parish as one and the same. But in fact, the church is the people of God living their everyday, ordinary lives. It’s precisely in this “everydayness” that the invitation and welcome to faith must be given. This means we must develop household-centered catechesis – and this will require us to change.

First, it means a change how we think about faith formation.

On the part of the parish staff….

  • Parish team and key volunteers are not the only ones who do ministry. Their task is to facilitate everyone to be a “minister.”  
  • The parish should be a “resource center” for ministry, mercy, and spirituality. Just as the diocesan pastoral center serves parishes (and doesn’t do all the parish ministry) so the parish serves households (and doesn’t do all the ministry).
  • Parish facilities are not the only place where members of the church meet – the main place they meet is within their homes.
  • One task of the parish is to provide households with the resources they need to make those domestic “meetings” (more) holy and (more) intentional.

On the part of the rest of the parish….

  • The Church is the People of God in all the messiness of daily life.
  • This People of God can be trusted to explore and live their faith as it unfolds in their lives.
  • How they live may not fit precisely into what the leaders of the church or parish consider best, but they are nonetheless still God’s Holy People.
  • We used to speak of “going to church on Sunday” but now we understand that we are the church all week long, and we “go to the world.”

Second, it means a change in how we operate.

We want to have “great expectations for each household….

  • But parish leaders have to be careful that we don’t expect people to meet some arbitrary and strict set of rules and regulations which we have set in order to be receive our support.
  • We must allow flexibility, diversity, and differing levels of commitment.
  • Affirm everyday life – the Spirit is working there most of all!

Therefore, we can conclude that we should develop programs that affirm and assist the household….

  • Coach young parents to be the primary ones who form their own kids in faith.
  • Include stories from everyday, household life in Sunday homilies and catechesis.
  • Cater to household life whenever possible in terms of scheduling and planning; avoid the supper hour.
  • Work intergenerationally because households are intergenerational.
  • Include non-Catholic spouses because most people live in ecumenical households these days.
  • Judge people less and simply offer them the love and mercy of Jesus. 

Bill Huebsch is Director of the Pastoral Center for 23rd Publications at 

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