Follow the Good Shepherd who calls you by name
Geraldine Lim (centre, in green) works at the Office For Catechesis (OFC). This archdiocesan body provides training and formation for catechists and those involved in catechetical ministries.
Since 2017, I have been working full-time with OFC. Prior to that, I was involved in its ad-hoc projects, first as a volunteer, and then later as a part-timer from 2013.
Joining OFC felt like a natural progression of my involvement in the Church. I started serving in Liturgy of the Word with Children in 2001, when my eldest daughter started attending it. Later, when the time came for her to enrol in formal catechesis in Primary 1, I wanted to continue to accompany her on her faith journey and this important phase of her life, and ended up joining family catechesis in my parish.
Back then, I was not aware that parents are, in fact, the primary catechists in their children’s life. I learnt this along the way as I got more involved in catechesis, and attended more formation programmes.
My work with OFC involves developing session outlines, planning annual curriculum schedules for children’s catechesis, helping in formation courses, and managing the bridging programme, which caters to those who have missed starting formal catechesis.
I enjoy relating to people, and getting to meet catechists from different parishes. We share how to hone our craft as catechists. It is especially rewarding when they share with me how well the children have responded to a particular session.
One key challenge we face is changing mind-sets. Unlike tuition, catechetical sessions are not enrichment lessons, and families often do not give it priority. Catechesis is person-to-person; to help the child encounter the person of Jesus means effectively smaller catechist-to-children ratios.
Catechesis is also lifelong. It is tough when catechists do not see the need to form themselves before forming others. In fact, the children have much to teach us too! I had a 10-year-old who offered this explanation when asked to think about why God forbade Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She gave it some thought and said, “Perhaps it is like how we do not give wine to a baby because it is not ready for it?” These moments I truly cherish!
Being in OFC has not only enriched my prayer life, but has deepened my understanding of discipleship. While I still experience challenges and discouragement, I realise that He gives me a chance to grow in faith and trust every day. If you feel prompted to work in the Church, do not hesitate to follow the Good Shepherd who calls you by name.