|Arsenyo Beda is committed to his work as a Catechist. “I started this work back in 1995 in St. Joseph Parish when I was a Sunday school teacher for the children. After this I was promoted to be a Catechist and moved to Holy Rosary Parish where I have been for 35 years. I studied theology for 1 year in Eldoret, Kenya.” “In South Sudan, catechists are barely trained as they should be because we lack the support of the authorities under whose authority we serve. Lack of training has repercussion such as children receiving Holy Communion and Confirmation without the Christian message going deep into their hearts. As they grow up, they end up not being committed Christians. On the other hand, children are brought for baptism and the next time they might be seen in church is during Christmas. Then again, most catechists are old plus a majority speak only their local language.” “Solidarity conducted a workshop where we were taught how to do baptism; preparation of both the parents and the infant for the infant’s baptism; plus a better understanding of our creed – the foundation of our beliefs. It was done in a very reflective and prayerful mood. We were also taught about the way of the cross and how to pray, so now we can lead the believers if a priest is not available. They taught us what part of the mass a catechist can handle if a priest is unavailable.”
After the training, Arsenyo is serving as an acolyte. “I help the priests at the altar, teach catechism, share the word of God, pray at funerals in case a priest is not available, coach mothers for baptism, bury the dead plus praying and taking the viaticum for the sick. I could not do all this before the training. I thought it was work that only a priest is allowed to do. In a month, I can attend up to 50 people. Other times you have to call another acolyte to help.” “We have been encouraging and facilitating the youth to meet at church and to take part in activities such as football and music. During this time we also help them in their spiritual lives.” “We have made some progress but there is still a lot of pastoral work to be done. This is especially important because many areas do not have priests and do depend of Catechists. The training has made it less difficult because before, people would look up to me for spiritual help yet I did not know a lot of things. I also acquired a lot of reading material, which helps to refresh my memory from time to time. The training changed us and also brought us nearer to God.” “In the future, I hope for a Christian nation where our attitudes are changed so that we can move away from unnecessary traditions, killings, cattle raids – things which a Christian would not do.”
THIS STORY IS SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE the skills and knowledge of catechists were developed and so their capability, capacity, productivity and performance were enhanced. This is especially important because catechists play the role of being the main teacher of the faith where priests are unavailable especially due to the war in South Sudan and also due to the lack of more youth choosing to be catechists.
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Descriptor: Rome Office
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