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Spanish-language program centers on rejuvenating faith

By Antonio M. Enrique
Posted: 11/25/2005

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RANDOLPH —The Spanish-language program of the Catechetical Congress presented catechists with the opportunity to rejuvenate their faith so they could better transmit that faith to their students.

“We must convert every day,”said Pilar Latorre, assistant director for Hispanic catechesis. “Our lives as catechists require us to give and give and give some more —but to give we must receive.”

Latorre encouraged the nearly 300 catechists and religious education directors in attendance to nurture their faith from the day’s events.

Similar to the English-language program, the congress, held under the theme “Life is Christ,”offered Spanish-speakers a host of workshops, such as “Called to be Witnesses of Life,”and “The Family: Lighthouse of Religious Education,”as well as a keynote speaker who addressed the participants in two separate sessions.

“What is it that you truly value?”asked keynote speaker Maruja Sedano, director of the Office for Religious Education for the Archdiocese of Chicago, in her opening address. “What you truly value is what you are willing to give both your money and time to.”

In a talk that was sprinkled with Gospel references, Sedano urged her listeners to “value the worth of Jesus.”

“It is easy to go to a retreat, or to a day of prayer and on that day we are on Mount Tabor, full of zeal, but then we realize that we need to have a real life,”she said. “Without converting, without changing our lives, we treat the retreat like an Alka-Seltzer —many bubbles, but no true change.”

Sedano spoke of the need for “metanoia”—a Greek word for a fundamental change of character.

“To convert is to value the worth of Jesus,”she said, adding that manifesting that conversion requires us to “love, to be chaste, to tell the truth, to respect the sanctity of life, to be faithful.”

But, she continued, too often Catholics do not value their faith.

“I am often surprised that the values of Catholics are no different than that of the non-believers,”she declared. “We are not born-again Christians who accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and then have to do nothing else. Our faith must be visible in our actions.”

Concluding her morning address, Sedano posed a question to the participants, “For you, what are you willing to give for the treasure of Christ? Think about it for the rest of the day.”

Following Sedano’s address and lunch, the participants broke into workshops. Among the presenters was Father Eduardo Henriques, SJ, a Jesuit from Boston College, whose workshop entitled “It is Christ living in me,”centered around the celebration of Mass.

“The two greatest gifts are the Liturgy of the Word, which brings us Christ and the Eucharist, where we receive the body within our communities. There is no greater treasure aside from baptism,”said Father Henriques.

“Each time we celebrate the Eucharist there is a Liturgy of the Word that brings Christ, and a eucharistic prayer which reveals Him as a companion along the journey,”he said.

After the workshops came to a close, the catechists once again reconvened to hear Sedano speak.

“This morning we saw a little about the price we must pay to follow God. This afternoon we will see what it means to follow Christ,”she began.

Using various Gospel accounts, Sedano sought to explain the “characteristics required to follow Christ”not as a student, but as a disciple.

“The disciple walked with the master, promised to talk like, to act like, to learn by becoming the master,”she explained. “When Jesus called them to be disciples, that is what He was asking.”

But in order to become a disciple, there are certain criteria that must be met, Sedano explained. First, “our response to Christ must be free of concerns of what others may be thinking. We are called all together as Church, but each of us individually must respond.”

In addition, a disciple must trust in God, she said. “How many times do we say, ‘God, do your will, but make it mine,’”she exclaimed.

“We need an unconditional trust, like Jesus who said ‘God do your will not mine,’”she stressed.

A disciple must be “open to the forgiving power of God,”she continued. “We must learn from our mistakes but not get hung up on not forgiving ourselves for making them,”she said, adding that “you cannot however overlook a sin. If it is a sin, it is a sin.”

Once forgiven, a disciple must “take up his cross and follow Jesus,”continued Sedano, noting that “you should carry your cross with joy because a sad saint is a sorry saint.”

Lastly, a disciple must be willing to evangelize.

“As catechists and teachers of faith, to evangelize is to share your faith in the capacity the child you teach can understand,”Sedano explained. “Go to your parishes and be light.”