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Orthodox Catechesis and the Qualities of the Catechist. A Presentation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education for the 36 th Biennial Clergy Laity Congress by Eve Tibbs Religious Education Coordinator Diocese of San Francisco.

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Orthodox Catechesis and the Qualities of the Catechist

A Presentation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education

for the

36th Biennial Clergy Laity Congress

by Eve Tibbs

Religious Education Coordinator

Diocese of San Francisco


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Heavenly King and Comforter, Spirit of Truth present everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

O Christ, the true Light, which illumines and sanctifies every person who comes into the world; let the light of Your glory shine upon us, that in it we may behold the light ineffable; and guide our footsteps, to the keeping of Your commandments, through the prayers of your all-pure Mother, and of all Your Saints. Amen.


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I. End Things and First Things everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

  • "If you have anything to tell me of importance, for God's sake begin at the end."Sara J. Duncan


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I. End Things and First Things everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

  • "If you have anything to tell me of importance, for God's sake begin at the end."Sara J. Duncan

    C. The Catechist is critical to directing the process of religious education. There are several important qualities of the Catechist

    • Some may be learned along the way.

    • Some must be pre-requisites of the person.


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Understanding the goal is critical to any task! everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

  • Alice asked, "Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the cat. "I don't much care where," said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the cat.


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  • Here's the beginning of the outline: everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

    A) Orthodox Religious Education in America is in trouble, primarily because it has strayed from the Patristic Orthodox understanding.


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  • Here's the beginning of the outline: everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

    A) Orthodox Religious Education in America is in trouble, primarily because it has strayed from the Patristic Orthodox understanding.

    B) The Patristic Model is being reclaimed today, and especially being brought to light and practice for us through the work of Fr. Frank Marangos, the Director of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education – and specifically in his CANA catechetical model.


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II. Community, Synergy and Liturgy everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

  • Koinonia = Communion/ Fellowship in Community

  • Synergeia = Divine/Human Cooperation

  • Litourgeia = Shared Work


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St. Andrei Rublev’s (15c) everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.

Icon of the Holy Trinity

Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah


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A. everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.Christian Education as an ecclesiological phenomenon

1. Entire Church – in community - is the educator. Each Christian person is really a learner.


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A. everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.Christian Education as an ecclesiological phenomenon

1. Entire Church – in community - is the educator. Each Christian person is really a learner.

2. Participation in Christian life (or praxis) is not limited to Priests, or teachers or adults


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A. everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.Christian Education as an ecclesiological phenomenon

1. Entire Church – in community - is the educator. Each Christian person is really a learner.

2. Participation in Christian life (or praxis) is not limited to Priests, or teachers or adults

3. Christian education cannot be limited to children.


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A. everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.Christian Education as an ecclesiological phenomenon

1. Entire Church – in community - is the educator. Each Christian person is really a learner.

2. Participation in Christian life (or praxis) is not limited to Priests, or teachers or adults

3. Christian education cannot be limited to children.

4. Christian education cannot be limited to a classroom.


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A. everywhere, who fills all creation, the Treasure of all blessings and Giver of life, come and live within us. Cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls, O gracious God.Christian Education as an ecclesiological phenomenon

1. Entire Church – in community - is the educator. Each Christian person is really a learner.

2. Participation in Christian life (or praxis) is not limited to Priests, or teachers or adults

3. Christian education cannot be limited to children.

4. Christian education cannot be limited to a classroom.

5.Christian Education cannot be limited to a time span, after which there is a "graduation" from learning.



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Orthodox Religious Education but I wish has drifted from the Patristic Understanding

1. The problems of Scholasticism and Secularization

2. Many Orthodox Catechetical Organizational Structures and Philosophies copied these problematic western "School" models.


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A poor substitute for but I wish the real thing!



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"We have assumed children can learn without the experience necessary to permit ‘rooting’ "

(Dr. J. Boojamra)

Christian formation requires participation of the whole person in the fullness of Church life.


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The CANA Catechetical Model necessary to permit ‘rooting’ "

CognitiveAffectiveNoeticAssets

  • Catechist

  • Child

  • Content

  • Context

  • Community

  • Corroboration

The Marriage at Cana - John 2.1-11


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III. The CANA Model necessary to permit ‘rooting’ " and the Catechist

No books, however good, no programs, however well prepared, will replace the personal influence of the catechist or "religious educator".

S. Koloumzin

The Marriage at Cana - John 2.1-11


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A. Characteristics of the Religious Educator’s “Self”

1. Must have an authentic experience of participation in church life, on however modest a scale.

2. His or her Orthodox faith, however incomplete, must be his or her own Faith.

3. Must have a capacity, perhaps only a potential one, for communicating with his or her students, whether children, teens or adults.

4. Must have the capacity to grow and develop his or her spiritual gifts.


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Love “Self”

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. ... 4Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13

` "I am just a little pencil which God uses to write on the hearts of men. "

- Mother Theresa

"Preach the Gospel Always -even if you must use words sometimes."

- St. Francis of Assisi


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Meekness “Self”

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

–James 3.13


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B. The Marriage at CANA “Self” John 2.1-11

1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

4Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

5His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

6Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.9When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

11This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.


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1. The Role of the Catechist “Self”

 There is a need, to which Christ responds at the request of His mother.

 The Catechist is the "symposiarch" of the Marriage Feast. The Catechist must be obedient to fill the waterpots with water – to the brim.

 Catechist must understand the student is the invited guest of Christ

 There is work for the catechist to do but if the catechist is obedient in the task, the Holy Spirit will respond, changing the water into the best wine for the benefit of all the invited guests!

 Hospitality is an important dimension of what it means to be Christian – both literally, and figuratively.


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2. Relationship of Catechist to other 5 Components “Self”

 Catechist and Learner (Child)


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2. Relationship of Catechist to other 5 Components “Self”

 Catechist and Learner (Child)

 Catechist and Content


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2. Relationship of Catechist to other 5 Components “Self”

 Catechist and Learner (Child)

 Catechist and Content

 Catechist and Context of Learning


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2. Relationship of Catechist to other 5 Components “Self”

 Catechist and Learner (Child)

 Catechist and Content

 Catechist and Context of Learning

 Catechist and Community


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2. Relationship of Catechist to other 5 Components “Self”

 Catechist and Learner (Child)

 Catechist and Content

 Catechist and Context of Learning

 Catechist and Community

 Catechist and Corroboration


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IV. Conclusion “Self”

  • The Catechist or the "Religious Educator" is critical to directing the process of religious education."

  • The Catechist is the Symposiarch of the Feast – the one who prepares the environment in which the Holy Spirit will share in the work of salvation; There is synergeia – or cooperation - in the work of God and human persons.

  • There several important qualities of the Catechist – some of which must be pre-requisites of the catechist – and some qualities may be learned along the way.


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  • Religious education is a lifelong process – a relationship in communion with God and humans persons of all ages.

  • Everyone is both student and teacher; every place is school.

  • The Liturgical Life of the Church is the locus of all religious education. Teaching must both originate in worship and lead to worship.

  • The goal of catechesis is Christian Formation not Information – a transformation of life.


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The Marriage at Cana - John 2.1-11 relationship in communion with God and humans persons of all ages.


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