The II International Congress on Catechesis was held at the Paul VI Hall, in Rome, Italy, from September 20 to 23, 2018. The event was attended by about 1,500 people, including bishops, priests, religious men and women and mainly lay people from approximately 48 countries. Philippines was represented by 55 catechists coming from the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, San Pablo Laguna, Zambales, Tuguegarao, Isabela, Bacolod and the Archdioces of Manila. The Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila (CFAM) sent 20 delegates, the highest number of participants from the Philippines. The Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education, Bishop Roberto Mallari headed the group.
The Congress was organized by the Pontifical Council of the Promotion of the New Evangelization and was coordinated and directed by its President, Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The Congress, with the theme “The Catechist: Witness to the Mystery,” was marked by several conferences, a moment of small-group dialogue on a catechetical theme and a musical show performed by a Choir of the Archdiocese of Turin. In addition, participants received a motivational video message from Pope Francis and attended a Mass, the closing, celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica.
Among the main messages was that catechists should remember that they do not work as catechists, but they are catechists. Pope Francis even said that being a catechist is a vocation that must penetrate the life of every baptized person. This only happens when the Christian knows Jesus and becomes His friend. A person who knows Jesus, said Dr Schlosser of the Catholic University of the Diocese of Vienna, needs to serve Him, and this is what happens when these people become evangelizers. Therefore, prayer, study and service are three realities that must be inseparable in the life of a Catholic. Archbishop Francesco Cacucci, Archbishop of Bari in Italy, said that many people have rejected the faith because they do not understand it. Catechists must be aware that knowledge of the Christian mystery in its fullness is not possible. However, this is a historical moment in which the Church needs to develop effective evangelization, especially by devoting herself to training her catechists and using social media with propriety.
Before and after the three intense days of the Congress, the representatives from the Philippines had a nice time going around significant places in Rome and some parts of Italy. They were blessed of seeing these places carrying with them the numerous intentions of other catechists left behind. Majority of them visited Rome for the first time. It was an experience they will keep in their heart all throughout their life. An experience that will hopefully bring a Godly perpective and a change of heart until the next congress, the III International Congress on Catechesis that will be convened again in Rome on 23 to 26 of September 2021.