“The fundamental task of catechesis is . . . the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ.”
(National Directory for Catechesis, 20)
The SHARING THE LIGHT OF FAITH award recognizes an outstanding individual in the Diocese who has had a major impact on the faith life of the Church. The individual must be one who is generous in his/her response to the call of God in giving witness to the gospel through exemplary service to a parish and, in doing so, to the diocese at large.
The National Directory for Catechesis places catechesis firmly within the mission of the Church. “Catechesis… is a pivotal dimension of the Church’s pastoral activity and a significant element in all the Church does to hand on the faith. Every means that the Church employs in her overall mission to go and make disciples has a catechetical aspect. Catechesis gives form to the missionary preaching that is intended to arouse the first signs of faith. It shapes the initial proclamation of the Gospel. Catechesis assists the early examination of reasons for belief. It communicates the essential elements in the experience of Christian living. It prepares for the celebration of the sacraments. It facilitates integration into the ecclesial community. It urges apostolic activity and missionary witness. It instills a zeal for the unity for Christians and prepares one for the ecumenical understanding and mission of the Church.” (NDC #19, C)
Calling catechesis “a pillar of faith formation,” Pope Francis adds, “and we need good catechists. Even if at times it may be difficult and require a great deal of work, and although the results are not always what we hope for, teaching the faith is something beautiful! . . . To help children, young people and adults to know and love the Lord more and more is one of the most exciting aspects of education. Catechesis is a vocation: “being a catechist,” this is the vocation, not working as a catechist. So keep this in mind: I didn’t say to do the ‘work’ of catechists, but to ‘be’ catechists, because this is something that embraces our whole life” (Address to International Congress on Catechesis, September 27, 2015).
The New York State Catholic Bishops in their document, The Catechist in the Third Millennium, state, "To serve effectively as a catechist in the Church, a person must possess and exhibit qualities necessary to give credible witness...compassion, kindness, common sense, a sense of humor, an open and understanding heart, a sense of one's own self-worth and exhibit a real and vital Catholic faith based on a personal relationship with Christ." Furthermore, the catechist is one who "must understand and care for the community with whom one ministers . . . demonstrate patience, flexibility, openness and ability to listen . . . be generous with their time and talent, open to deepening their understanding of the theology and methodology necessary for teaching, and be able to communicate faith and knowledge effectively in both word and deed" (III B).
Parish personnel are invited to nominate one person for the Sharing the Light of Faith award. The nominee should have definite parish catechetical experience and achieved a certificate of recognition through the Growth in Faith Diocesan Certification process. Various achievements accomplished by the individual should be submitted as well as examples of how the individual has made an impact on the parish and the diocese.
Past recipients are Sister Kieran Quinn, OSU (1988); Mrs. Alice Dixson, Madrid (1989); Margaret Woods, Massena (1990); Bishop Stanislaus J. Brzana (1991); Sister Mary Felicitas Wells, RSM (1992); Mrs. Lucille Peters, Hogansburg (1993); Mae Schneeberger, Croghan (1994); Rev. J. Michael Gaffney (1995); Margaret Testani, Ogdensburg (1996); Sister Maurice Black, SSJ (1997); Thomas Schneeberger, Croghan (1998); Anne C. Thomas, Sackets Harbor (1999); Sophia Roffe, Old Forge (2000); Eunice Trombley, Cumberland Head (2001); Barbara Corron, West Chazy (2002); Glory Rufa, Massena (2003); Anne Borsellino, Massena (2004); Cathy Bishop, Watertown (2007) and Joan Fetsko, Lyon Mountain (2009); Tamara Murhpy, Malone (2011).