CFAM Catechists Assembly: Thanksgiving Day


The school year 2022-2023 has come to an end.  It is our delight to celebrate and look back on a year full of blessings as we gather as one community of catechists of the Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila.

Fr. Carlo Magno Marcelo, presided the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  In his homily, our minister looked at the readings, narrating the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and shared his insights to help us in our preparation for the coming retreat that will focus on prayer exercises.

The first reading narrates the story of Lot, Abraham’s beloved nephew who was instructed by the angel to leave the city of Sodom.  Sodom being an agricultural place, was chosen by Lot for the sake of his livestock when he and Abraham parted ways. 

Because of the sinfulness of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord decided to punish them. Lot bargained with the messenger of the Lord if he can escape not to the mountains but to the nearest city enough for them to flee from the wrath of God.

Before God’s punishment for Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham bargained with the Lord, asking Him to spare the city for the sake of the righteous.  The Lord has already made a decision to punish the people, but Abraham bargained with him to change his decision. Fr. Carlo explained that the process of bargaining with the Lord is an important part of prayer.

The first reading revealed how Abraham and Lot struggled with God, trying to convince Him for their favor.  It shows how even the people in the Scriptures struggle or wrestle with God, to change His mind. 

The experience of struggle with God is a form of prayer because our prayers and our cries matter.  As we struggle with God, we are coming in close contact with Him, similar to prayer which is a close and personal encounter with God.

Wrestling in prayer leads to resting in prayer.  Our rest in prayer should stem from our wrestling and not simply from resignation due to hopelessness. 

We are reminded to be bold in prayer because wrestling with God will help us find true intimacy, and lead us to sweeter and true rest with Him.

The Eucharistic celebration was followed by a health break and then administrative updates by the CFAM minister.

Our minister reported the school profile for the school year 2022-2023.  A total of 159,459 are catechized while 273,114 are not catechized in a total population of 432,573 students.

To address the need to increase the number of catechized, the recruitment and formation of more volunteer catechists for the next school year 2023-2024 will be given importance and the formation of volunteer catechists will start in August. 

The teaching load will also be increased to 18-20 hours a week per catechist to be done from Tuesday to Friday, while Saturdays will be used for the CFAM ongoing formation.

Fr. Carlo suggested creating a standard format of recollection for high school focused on an increased sense of prayer during the Reco-concerts.

The Junior Catechists Association as a formation program was also explained.  The preparations for the handbook are on its finalization for stages 1, 2, and 3 and for the approval of the minister.  While the content for stage 4 is still being developed.  The orientation and training of JCA shepherds will be scheduled by September.

New projects were also introduced as alternative ways of doing catechesis.  First is the catechetical kit on Baptism called “Mga Alaala sa Sakramento ng Binyag”.  This kit contains a candle, a white garment, a catechetical fan and a liturgy for baptism.  Another project is the catechetical booklet named “Trellis.”  This booklet was developed to guide parents, godparents, and catechists in their preparation for the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation.

The production of “Sumasampalataya Ako” Sunday catechesis videos is ongoing, and the target completion of all the videos is at the end of 2023. 

Concept development for the catechetical fan on popular piety that will include discussion on issues of exorcism and catechetical fan on the Bible has also started.

The CFAM Shop has reached a gross sales of 1.3 million.  CFAM is happy and grateful not just for the monetary sales, but more important is the number of catechetical materials that were sold and have reached various parishes, dioceses and mission areas even outside Manila.

Another project is the “Misang Pambata” album which will also be released this year.  Children from Mindoro were chosen by Fr. Carlo to record the songs of the album.

An update on the OIP integration program and workshop was given, as well as the upcoming catechists’ retreat in August.

HRD Hiring is ongoing but only to replace the retiring catechists and those who have resigned. 

Revision of the manual of norms and policies is in its final draft and the re-orientation to catechists will be done sometime in August.

The new assignment of coordinators was announced followed by the sharing of Abby Bon on her missionary work in the Muslim country of Brunei.

The program was wrapped up by the presentation of the catechists with the theme; “Thanksgiving for SY 2023” followed by the community singing of “Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat” to conclude the gathering.