First in Taipa, then in Macau. The local Catholic communities are priming themselves for a new catechetical cycle. The new year begins a week apart in the two parishes. The Parish of Our Lady of Carmel, in Taipa, marks the beginning of the new catechetical year with the feast of the Holy Childhood. In the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, the new cycle will start a week later, with fewer catechists and something fresh: the rehabilitation of catechesis for preschool children.
The Parish of Our Lady of Carmel, in Taipa, hosts on September 12th, right after Sunday’s Eucharist, the feast day for the Holy Childhood, a celebration that will kick-start the new catechetical year for children aged nine and younger. The Holy Childhood feast was originally scheduled for mid-August, but the initiative was postponed earlier last month due to the discovery of a string of local cases of Covid-19.
The celebration, which aims to teach children how to cultivate their faith by promoting missionary activities with a universal appeal, was initially postponed to September 4th, but had to be delayed once again due to unforeseen difficulties, Father Eduardo Aguero told O Clarim: “We had to change our plans, both in terms of date and location. We are going to organize the feast of the Holy Childhood, in the parish of Our Lady of Carmel, right after Mass and until late afternoon,” the Argentinian priest explains. “We have encountered some difficulties while planning the event. Some of the parents told us it would be difficult for them to take their children to Coloane and to pick them afterwards. We are going to organize everything in Taipa, on September 12th. The Eucharist takes place at 11:15 AM and after Mass we will promote this activity. It should last until around 6 PM,” the Dehonian missionary adds.
The feast was originally conceived with the aim of bringing together the children of both the catechesis group of the Cathedral parish and the group of Our Lady of Carmel. The Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood – or Missionary Childhood Association – places children at the core of the evangelization effort, by inviting them to serve their peers. Assuming as a starting point the premise that “children should help children,” Father Eduardo Aguero provided older children with spiritual training so that they could take care of the younger ones. These and other teachings should be put into practice on September 12th: “The catechists and guides will assume the role of young missionaries. We held a formation meeting with them on August 14th,” the Argentinian missionary says.
Next Saturday’s event marks the beginning of a new Catechetical year and it is mainly aimed at the children of Taipa, despite the fact that those who attend catechism in the Cathedral parish were also invited to take part in the celebration. In the Parish of Our Lady of Carmel, in Taipa, the works of catechetical formation should engage around fifty children and a dozen catechists, father Eduardo Aguero told O Clarim.
AS THE TWIG IS BENT
In the Cathedral parish, the new catechetical year starts a week later, on September 19th, with fewer catechists and a major innovation, the relaunching of Sunday school for pre-school children, after a two-year interruption, Father Daniel Ribeiro, a fellow Dehonian, told O Clarim.
Father Ribeiro, who supervises the Portuguese-language pastoral of the Diocese of Macau, claims that the rehabilitation of catechesis for preschool children is an answer to the community’s expectations: “This only happened once, two years ago. We started by offering catechesis to preschool kids three years ago, but it was discontinued soon after it was created. Due to the pandemic, the project was not relaunched,” the Brazilian priest claims. “This is the second year that we will have catechesis for pre-school kids. At the moment, we still don’t know how many children we can count with. Registration was only opened last week and we will only know the exact number of people when we begin,” Ribeiro avows.
The “pre-catechesis” inventory is aimed at children aged four and five, although it does not require the same type of commitment from them. The first experience of the kind promoted by the Cathedral Parish, three years ago, attracted a handful of participants: “When we had this pre-catechesis experience for the first time three years ago, I think we had about five children, aged four and five years old. It’s an uncompromising experience where kids don’t need to come every weekend. However, it is an opportunity for children to get to know the Church, to learn things related to the Catholic religion. Many parents asked me about this possibility,” Father Daniel Ribeiro claims.
The rehabilitation of catechetical training for pre-school children is a major innovation for the Portuguese-speaking Catholic community, notwithstanding the fact that the number of catechists is declining: “The new catechetical year will start on September 19th. Unfortunately, we had a few catechists from Africa and some of them finished their studies and they had to return to their countries of origin. That’s the reason why the number of catechists ended up decreasing,” the Parish vicar of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady told O Clarim. “This year, we have approximately fifteen catechists, including those that are engaged with adult catechesis. This is the number of catechists we will be able to count with. We have catechesis from the first to the ninth grade and a group of adults,” Father Daniel Ribeiro concluded. (Photo from Sé Cathedral Macau Catechesi Sunday School Facebook page)