St.Thomas Syro-Malabar Catechesis (Viswasa Pariseelanam)
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14).
‘Catechesis’ is derived from the Greek word, ‘Katekein,’ which literally means to ‘resound from above,’ and ‘instruction by word of mouth.’ Catechesis therefore means to re-sound Christ the teacher and instruct Christ’s teaching.
We understand Catechesis as “an ecclesial act or ministry of education or instruction in the Christian faith or faith doctrine imparted to the baptized or catechumens, generally in an organized and systematic way, with a view to initiate and lead them to the maturity of faith and fullness of Christian life” (Syro-Malabar Catechetical Directory #45).
St.Thomas Christians have special traditions and particular cultural back ground which St.Thomas shared with our ancestors. St.Thomas Christians had an independent growth and they spread out all over the world through centuries, as they began to migrate to different parts of the world. Now we are around 4.9 million believers.
Faith formation has been given predominance over all other church activities, as we are fully aware of our responsibility to the future generations. In Qatar, St. Thomas Syro-Malabar catechism (faith formation) program was started in September 2000 with 125 children and 18 teachers under the leadership of Rev.Fr. Jacob Panamthottam. All priests from 2000-till date, especially Rev. Fr Jose Thachukunnel O.F.M. Cap., Rev. Fr Simon Cheruvathur O.F.M. Cap, Rev. Fr Johnson O.F.M. Cap encouraged and guided us to conduct the Catechism as it is today. Mr. Jose Purackel, Ms. Molly George, Mrs Rani Purackal, Mrs. Dolly Sebastian and Mr. Giji Jose have contributed much during their term of service as the Head of catechism.
Today, in the 17th year we have 1600+ children and 100+ dedicated staff. We are all being spiritually guided by our Parish Priest Fr.Mathewkutty Madathikunnel and Fr.Jaison Perumaden. At the beginning of each year the Parent Teachers Association is formed. This year more than fifty members (including females) have been selected from parents to help in all Catechism activities, under the leadership of the PTA President.
The catechetical year is from April to March. School closes for the summer vacation during July and August according to the Academic Calendar of the State of Qatar. We follow the text books “Unified Texts” prescribed by the Syro-Malabar Synodal Commission for Catechesis. A diary has been introduced for the children, which includes prayers for all levels, seasons and feasts celebrated by our Church. 1st Term Examination is conducted in the month of October and the 2nd Term Exam in month of March / April. Prizes (trophy and certificate) are also given to meritorious children for their success in the Annual Examination. For the 12th standard, students securing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd ranks are given cash awards. Medals are given to children with 100% attendance during the Annual Day Celebrations.
Currently catechism is conducted in 2 sessions comprising two batches each – Morning session from 7:00am to 10:45 am and Evening session from 4:00pm to 7:45 pm. Morning session have classes between 7:00-8:30 am and 9:00-10:30 am. Morning session assembly starts at 8.45 pm. There are two Holy Masses for the catechism students during morning session at 7am and 9.15 am. Evening session have classes between 4:00-5:30 pm and 6:15-7:45 pm. Evening session assembly starts at 5.45 pm. There are two Holy Masses for the catechism students during evening session at 4pm and 6.15 pm.
First Holy Communion and Anointing - Every year we have a good number of children who receive First Holy Communion and Anointing (Confirmation). They are given additional preparatory classes. Usually First Holy Communion and Anointing function is arranged in the 3rd week of May and classes start in March.
Bible Kalolsavam - Every year during the month of Oct/Nov Bible Kalolsavam is conducted to give students the opportunity to express their talents through healthy competition. Children are divided into four houses, named as St Thomas, St. Alphonsa, Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Chavara. Competitions are conducted house wise and individual basis. Different items like, Bible reading, Bible Verses writing, Biblical story telling, Essay writing, Speech etc are included. Grading system is implemented in order to encourage more students. Winners are awarded certificates and trophy.
Summer Camp - A summer camp is arranged during Jul/Aug with different activities under the supervision of catechism teachers and parents.
Scholarship Exam – The Scholarship exams is conducted every year for students from class 5 to 11. This is to encourage students to learn from outside the text book and know more about Syro Malabar Church, Saints, Bible, Mother Mary etc. Winners are awarded with Cash Prize and Trophy.
Adoration –Adoration for class 9 – 12 is conducted in the Chapel during catechism hours. 1 hour is dedicated to spend before the Most Blessed Sacrament and to do adoration.
Other Activities - Special training is given for boys to serve in the Holy Qurbana as Alter servers. Programs of “Jesus Kids Ministry” for children is arranged for students up to 4th level and Cherupuzhpam Mission League ( CML) for students of grades from 5th to 12th level is arranged on 2nd Saturday of every month. Confession for children is being arranged frequently. Christeen Ministry for children arranges programs at regular intervals for strengthening of children’s faith. Annual Christeen retreat for kids by external experts is arranged for a week.
Intensive trainings, classes and seminars are conducted for catechists to improve their spiritual knowledge and teaching skills. Catechists and catechetical leaders are prepared to have a collaborative role and to enriched the faith. Leaders groups includes Head Master, two Assistant Head Masters, In Charges of Four batches, Spiritual Activities, Registration, Academics, Cultural, Planning, IT & Alumni. Discipline coordinator, CML- Jesus kid’s coordinator, Choir coordinator and class coordinators, and coordinators of major programs are selected for the smooth running of catechesis.
Annual Day (Viswasolsavam) is being celebrated in a grand way and more than 550 students participates in various stage shows during the 5 hour programs arranged in a special tent.
In an initiative to keep ex catechism students studying abroad in faith and contact with the church Alumni group is being formed.
Catechisms being a practical subject, students are being trained in all aspects including charity to become good Christians.
We believe that God and the child have a unique relationship with one another and we do our best to enrich the growth of this relationship. At the Office for Catechesis we are deeply committed to apply the very best of catechetical services we can provide to our community.