By Rev. Michael DeKay
For the past year, I have had the joy and honour of being a member of a Diocesan group who have been meeting via Zoom with our Diocesan Developer of Catechumenal Ministries, the Rev. Canon Dr. Lisa Wang.
One of the main goals motivating and inspiring our gatherings and discussions has been our Diocesan initiative to be a Learning Church. To this end, we are all involved in evolving and intentional “catechumenal projects” within our local parishes.
When we meet with Lisa, we hear what others are doing in their parish context as they seek to creatively provide opportunities for ongoing learning, spiritual health, formation, and engagement with the faith. (In this we were inspired by what the ancient Church called mystagogy.)
I have been asked to highlight a few initiatives offered, of late, at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
During the pandemic, we have collectively learned the upsides and challenges of using Zoom. While some people these days admit to being “Zoomed out,” in my context Zoom continues to be well received, especially for evening events.
On Tuesday evenings, I have been offering what we refer to as Exploring Sunday’s Scriptures, or ESS, where we seek to meaningfully explore the next Sunday’s lectionary: the first reading, the psalm or canticle, the second reading, and the gospel reading. We also spend time exploring Sunday’s assigned prayers, particularly the collect of the day, and the prayer over the gifts. This ministry of the word continues to be supported by St. Paul’s parishioners and beyond— thanks, again, to the wonders of Zoom.
On Thursday evenings, I have offered another educational ministry called “Engaging Faith.” The topics have included Joel Goza’s America’s Unholy Ghosts: The Racist Roots of our Faith and Politics, Ron Deibert’s 2020 Massey Lectures, Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society, and a film and discussion series on "The Bible and Literature" with the celebrated Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye (1912-1991).
Another Christian Education opportunity occurs on Sunday mornings between our 8 a.m. BCP and 10 a.m. BAS services. We affectionately refer to this time as “Sundays @ 9” and, most recently, during the six Sundays of Lent, we explored the wonderful resource by Amy-Jill Levine, Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week. Prior to this Lenten series, we explored last summer’s Lambeth Conference, “God’s Church for God’s World.” We reflected on the Conference’s ten calls, which will continue to percolate through and deeply affect our global Anglican Communion.
Finally, the Cathedral was part of a Deanery sponsored and supported catechumenal process leading to the multiple Christian initiation rites celebrated by Bishop Todd at the Great Vigil of Easter.
I had the privilege of hosting individuals from eight different parishes in the London Deanery, ranging in age from grade 7 to 70+, and their sponsors, who were prayerfully seeking Baptism, Confirmation, and Reaffirmation. We combined with four other “satellite” Deanery and Diocesan catechumenal groupings for a combined total of 17 souls, our interaction culminating at the Easter Vigil service.
What a fantastic sacramental evening of new fire and paschal light; wonderful music and singing; our salvation stories; the Sacrament of new life at the font; the sprinkling rite; the rites of Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation; and the Eucharistic celebration, during which one catechumen received first communion.
Kudos to St. George’s Anglican parish, London, which so graciously hosted this sacred event in the life of our Diocese.
Soon, we will take a break for the summer, but the catechumenal process and faithful work around our Diocese will prayerfully continue in September. Can’t wait!
Rev. Michael DeKay is the vicar of St. Paul's Cathedral.