Witness and Mission: National Catholic Education Conference

Witness and mission at the heart of Catechetical Gathering co-sponsored by Pontifical Mission Societies

Minneapolis (Agenzia Fides) – “Never underestimate the power of your own witness to our faith in Jesus,” said Monsignor John E. Kozar, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the United States. His message was from his keynote presentation at Catechetical Leadership Day, April 7, a part of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)/National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors (NPCD) annual convention, also sponsored by the PMS of the USA. That meeting, held this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota, brought together more than 8,000 Catholic educators, parish religious education directors, catechists, and others engaged in formation. The National Office of the PMS in the USA, which sent a note to Fides on the recent event, recalled that in his address, Monsignor Kozar pointed to the critical role of the personal “faithful witness” of those gathered and spoke, too, of his encounters with such witnesses in the Missions. “In my travels, I meet those who lead others to this experience of our Lord and teach them about our Catholic faith,” he said. “But even more than a source of information about the faith, these mission catechists are ‘faithful witnesses’ who inspire and teach by the example of their lives.”

Monsignor Kozar also described the life’s witness of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, former National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. “Archbishop Sheen taught us so well and faithfully about the preeminence of Christ in all that we do,” he said. He spoke of Archbishop Sheen’s fidelity to a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.

Above all, Monsignor Kozar offered words of encouragement to these faith formators. “You are heroic in your efforts, despite the challenges and difficulties,” he said. “You are true missionaries.”

At the conclusion of Monsignor Kozar’s address, Monica Yehle, editor of MISSION magazine in the United States, spoke about the “witness of the moment.” “Every missionary knows that every moment counts...Missionaries know that the Lord lives in every moment, awaiting our encounter and our embrace,” she said. “And we need to be in that moment, with our faith in Him and our love for our neighbor.”

There is continuing collaboration between the national office and the national Catholic formation organizations in the United States. Diana Dudoit Raiche, Executive Director of the Department of Religious Education of the NCEA, commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Pontifical Mission Societies on these important initiatives on behalf of the Church.” (AR) (Agenzia Fides 16/4/2010)

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