International Catechists’ Pilgrimage to Rome


03 journées mondiales des catéchistes 2

Pope Francis invited the catechists of the entire world to meet up, to pray and to share together for 4 days from the 26th to the 29th September, as part of the year of faith.

Sister Yvonne Chatel :

01 congrès des catéchistes  Yvonne Chatel“Many catechists from the diocese of Nanterre (120 out of the 1000 French pilgrims). I had the chance to02  congrès des catéchistes groupe d'Issy les Moulinaux take part. We were 12 from the 5 parishes of Issy-Les-Moulineaux.

We followed in the footsteps of Saint Paul and Saint Peter by way of the churches of Rome. We visited the basilicas of St Paul Outside the Walls, St Maria Maggiore, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, St John Lateran, St Peter. The guided visits in these great basilicas were times of beautiful catechesis followed by Mass or a time of celebration.

At the French Church of St Louis I very much loved the reading of Caravaggio’s painting of “The call of Saint Matthew”.

09 congrès des catéchistes vocation de Matthieu le Caravage

At the church Santa Maria Minerva Mgr Ricard gave us a lesson catechesis. He invited us to be “missionary catechists”. In order to so be, he proposed:

– Having a heart touched by Christ

– Nourishing oneself with the Word of God and serving it03  congrès des catéchistes église Santa Maria Minerva

– Taking part in the building up of the Christian community

– Knowing how to demonstrate the hope that lives in us

– Initiating, accompanying and witnessing to the Christian experience

– Loving the world into which we are sent

– Living the paschal mystery with Christ

Another memorable moment at the basilica of St Peter: we all went, by groups, to the tomb of Peter, to proclaim together the “Credo”.

04  congrès des catéchistes tombeau de Pierre

This faith that we proclaim so often does not come from us. We have received it. It comes to us from the apostles, from Peter, from Paul, those men who were far from perfect.

But God chose them to announce His Word. They were overwhelmed by their meeting with Christ. Their whole life was given over to the announcement of the Good News. Peter after having denied his Master “confirms his brothers in the faith”.

Paul says that he is transmitting what he himself has received.

It is up to us now to be missionaries, to witness to The One who makes us live, to transmit what we have received and what we proclaim.

The closing Mass, in St Peter’s Square, in the presence of the Pope brought together catechists and Christians from the entire world: “The catechist is a Christian who carries in him the remembrance of God, in all of his life and who knows how to awaken it in the heart of others”, said Pope Francis who invited us to be “guardians” of this remembrance of God. It is in this way that the remembrance is transmitted from generation to generation, to warm the hearts of men and women.”

Yvonne Chatel (community of Issy les Moulineaux)

Sister Agnès Chatard

CHATARD Agnès “As part of my work in the Service of Pastoral Care and Evangelisation of the Young of Morbihan, i had the joy of participating in the International Congress of Catechists at Rome from the 26th to the 29th of September 2013.

We were 1600 reunited in the Paul VI audience hall. At the opening presentation of the Congress, 55 nationalities ere represented. Mgr Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, greeted the whole assembly fraternally and in particular three Syrians who had come to the Congress. He said to them how all of us were thinking of their country, and the sufferings that the people are experiencing.

The applause lasted more than 5 minutes as we all manifested our support for their country. The emotion was palpable in the room. It was a very powerful moment.

Afterwards we were offered a series of conferences. There were also times of prayer, including the celebration of Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the altar of the Chair of St Peter linked to the “Profession of Faith”.

12 Congrès des catéchistes Basilique Saint Pierre

The most looked forward to moment was the meeting with Pope Francis. It took him a half-hour to get from the entrance to the hall to his conference place as he greeted those present.

It was almost intimate, even with 1600 people there! What struck me was:

– His smile and his regard when he greets people. He is simply happy to be among the people.

– His catechesis and his direct style. We were so at ease that each one felt concerned by what he had to say. He began by thanking all those who work in the service of catechesis and evangelisation… then he invited each one to return to the source: CHRIST, to contemplate him.

“To “be” a catechist requires love, an ever stronger love for Christ, a love for his holy people. And this love can’t be08 congrès des catéchistes le Pape François bought in stores, even in Rome. This love comes from Christ! It is Christ’s gift! And if it comes from Christ, it also starts with Christ, and we too need to start anew with Christ, from the love he gives us.”

“The first thing for a disciple is to be with the Master, to listen to him and to learn from him. It is a journey that lasts all of our lives. It is to abide in the presence of the Lord, to let ourselves be looked upon by the Lord. I ask you: Do you let yourself be looked upon by the Lord? That is much more important than the title of catechist: it is part of being a catechist. At this moment each one can ask himself: How do I experience “abiding in Jesus”? Do I find time to remain in his presence, in silence, to be looked upon by him? Do I let his fire warm my heart? If the warmth of God, of his love, of his tenderness is not in our own hearts, then how can we, who are poor sinners, warm the heart of others? Think about it! »

Agnès Chatard



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Risk an experience, an adventure on our territories of the Faith!

Don’t become a ‘statue in a museum’ (Pope Francis)

Journées mondiales M A Servel

” Participating in the Congress of Catechists was an unexpected chance ! The proposition came from the service of Catechesis: the partitions between the 2 services of the Church (Catechesis and Catechumenate) are very porous! They are only two means of entry in the announcement and transmission of the Faith.

It was a moment of grace and an experience of profound joy and attachment to this Church of Jesus Christ; even with its tardiness, its heaviness, its ‘bumps and lumps’ that weigh me down and restrict me sometimes. A Church with its ups and downs as Pope Francis likes to say!

This transversal dimension of the Services of the Church (Catechesis / Catechumenate) reinforces its universal character. We were from 5 continents and 51 countries. Diving each day into the multitude of different languages and cultures, hearing the contributions from different countries … all of this input enlarged our tent and more than modified our vision of human and ecclesial realities!

I very much regretted that the diocesan delegations split into 2 groups: ‘Delegates’ and ‘Pilgrims’. Even though I was there as a ‘Delegate’, I took the liberty of slipping into the Pilgrim group whose programme was equally tempting. In this way I participated in evenings that I would call ‘Culture and Faith’: presentations of works of art leading into Prayer.

The commentated visit to the Mamertime Prison, close to the Forum and Coliseum, struck me particularly.

11 congrès des catéchistes prison Mamertine intérieur

Set pieces, lighting, and stories alternated: it was very poetic and culminated in an intense profession of the Catholic faith.

The visit to the tomb of Peter and the founders of our Church was equally a moment of intense Communion with the Church of yesterday, today and tomorrow. You become part of history … It was invigorating and a grace to welcome and make bear fruit … in the daily living of our ‘Galilees’.

journées mondiales le pape It was the meeting with Pope Francis however, that was the high point … Seeing the successor of Peter in front of your eyes and within touching distance, gives you a frisson of Catholicity. His touching remarks, insisting on life as witness, go straight to the heart, because they ring true! A pressing invitation to be creative, to go out to the peripheries, including in our habitual ways of thinking and our ‘sacred habits’. It is the dynamism of love, it is the movement of God Himself.

The Eucharist at the altar of St Peter’s Chair was a very intense moment for me; it was grandiose and divine. Surrounded by people from different nationalities, plunged into an environment of songs, music and fervour that transports you; I thought I was on Mount Thabor and wanted to ‘erect my tent’. It was divine and at the same time had a noble simplicity to it!

06 journées mondiales des catéchistes

In Rome you feel the heart of the Church beating, in relationship with all of our local Churches (with their heaviness, but above all their enthusiasm). These few days were full of hope, like the almond tree that announces the springtime. The experience encouraged me in my desire to transmit the faith through my present Service of ‘Liturgy and Sacraments’; the faith that makes me live in the Church, the faith that lives in me and colours all of my meetings, all of my choices and everyday acts…

This Congress was the first of a series that promises to be rich and fruitful; four are envisaged. Who else will have the grace of such a human and spiritual experience, and when? I hope that others who desire it may experience it … such an event opens up horizons …”

Sr Marie Andrée Servel



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