End of the line

Fr. Josiah Trenham, a youngish Priest at St. Andrew Orthodox Church of Riverside, California preached recently about, among other things, catechesis at his parish.

What struck me, first, was that they have long catechesis — one or two years. They’ve even got a chart (see the last page here).

Second, they use lay Catechists, and actually dismiss Catechumens for instruction before the Liturgy of the Faithful. (Of course, they’re a big parish — perhaps too big for Priests to catechize everybody.)

Third, they emphasize that Holy Orthodoxy is the end of the line. The Catechumen is not just joining St. Andrew Parish, but is joining Orthodox Christianity. If work takes them off to a burg where the only Orthodox Church is, say, Greek, and liturgizes in Greek, and people ask stuff like “Why are you here? You’re not Greek” — tough luck: that’s your parish now, buddy. You don’t go hankering for English at the Assemblies of God or something. (Even then, St. Andrew loses 10% within 5 years, which is less than Orthodox “recidivism” nationwide.)

Fourth, converts need the Church, not vice-versa. They don’t pander to converts. The sponsors actually vouch for the readiness of the candidate.

So: was I ready? Am I “all in”? If I spend more time at that beloved vacation spot where the Church is ethnic and they don’t sing very well, will I be faithful, or will I walk out – again, I’m sorry to say – because I’m “not enjoying it” and the weather is so beautiful?

As Father Gregory reminds me, our late Metropolitan sometimes said “Never underestimate the need for catechizing the baptized.”

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