Pope Francis will preside over the celebration of Sunday of the Word of God on Sunday, January 23 in St. Peter’s Basilica. As explained by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, this year’s liturgy includes some important novelties.

The Sunday of the Word of God is observed annually on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time after Christmas, ever since Pope Francis established this celebration on September 30, 2019 to remind Catholics of the importance of knowing Scripture.

As highlighted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (PCPNE), during the upcoming ceremony there will be some very significant moments.

New ministries for lay men and women

During the liturgy, the ministry of Lector will be conferred on both lay men and women “in a stable and institutionalized form through a special mandate, which in this celebration is realized and expressed in a liturgical rite.”

Previously, ministries were reserved only to men because they were considered preparatory to receiving Holy Orders. A statement from the PCPNE explains that the “well-established practice in the Church, however, has confirmed that lay ministries, founded on the sacrament of Baptism, can be entrusted to all the faithful who are suitable, whether male or female, according to what is already implicitly indicated by canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law, which the Pope has modified for the occasion.”

The ministry of Catechist

Also during the celebration, the Pope will confer the newly established ministry of Catechist on several members of the lay faithful, both women and men.

The statement notes that both ministries will be conferred through rites prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will be used for the first time in Sunday’s celebration.

The candidates will be “summoned” before the homily — that is, they will be called by name and presented to the Church.

Missionary character of Catechists

“After the Homily,” the PCPNE adds, “those who access the ministry of the Lectorate are given the Bible, the Word of God that they are called to proclaim. Catechists, on the other hand, are entrusted with a cross, a reproduction of the pastoral cross used first by St. Paul VI, then by St. John Paul II, to recall the missionary character of the service they are about to administer.”

Presence of faithful from across the world

The statement also reveals that among those receiving the ministry of the Lectorate will be members of the lay faithful representing the People of God from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana, and various parts of Italy.

Also present, to receive the ministry of Catechist, are two lay persons from the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas (Peru), in the Amazon; two faithful from Brazil who are already involved in the formation of Catechists; a woman from Kumasi, Ghana; the current President of the Centro Oratori Romani (the COR was founded by catechist Arnaldo Canepa, who dedicated more than forty years of his life to the foundation and direction of Oratories for children, the first of which was opened in 1945); and a lay man and a lay woman from Łódź (Poland) and Madrid (Spain), respectively.

Due to travel difficulties caused by the health restrictions currently in force, the hoped-for presence of two faithful, one from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one from Uganda, will not be possible.

The event will be televised and streamed live by Vatican Media.



Today is the 52nd anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Francis, ordained in Argentina on December 13, 1969. Many best wishes, Holy Father!

Pope Francis will also mark another big day this week – his 85th birthday on December 17!   Tanti auguri, Papa Francesco!


Today, December 13, is also the feast of St. Lucy, patron saint of the blind and is also invoked against hemorraghes, diseases of the eye, and throat infections.

painting by Francesco del Cossa

I visited the church in Venice where she is buried and and only find two of my photos at the moment.

The church’s website states: According to tradition, the remains of Saint Lucy were taken from Constantinople in 1204 by the Venetian doge Enrico Dandolo, along with those of Sant’Agata during the Fourth Crusade. Lucy’s remains were first laid to rest in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore.  After a tragic accident on Saint Lucy’s day in 1279, where pilgrims were drowned partly because of the numbers visiting Lucy, the Senate decided that the relics should be transferred to a city church, to allow better access. So, on 18 January 1280, led by a solemn procession, the body was brought to the church of Santa Maria Annunziata (or the «Nunciata») in the sestiere of Cannaregio.(the website: https://www.santuariodilucia.it/en/project/saint-lucy/)

She is one of my favorite saints and has brought me through many eye surgeries. For the very first one in December 2011, a detached retina in one eye and laser surgeries in the other, I entered the eye hospital precisely on her feast day, December 13, and remained for 9 days.

Here’s a great story on how she is celebrated in Italy:  How and why Italy celebrates Santa Lucia on December 13th (thelocal.it)


The Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments says “the publication of the Rite of Institution of Catechists offers a further opportunity for reflection on the theology of ministries in order to arrive at an organic vision of the distinct ministerial realities.”

By Salvatore Cernuzio

Accipe hoc fídei nostræ signum, cáthedram veritátis et caritátis Christi, eúmque vita, móribus et verbo annúntia – “Receive this sign of our faith, cathedra of the truth and love of Christ, and proclaim it with your life, your conduct and your word.”

Beginning on 1 January 2022, this will be one of the Latin formulas with which laymen and laywomen “of profound faith and human maturity” will be instituted as catechists by their bishop during a liturgical celebration.

The new Rite

After formally instituting the ministry of the catechist with the motu proprio Antiquum ministerium, Pope Francis has approved and published an Editio typica [typical edition] that introduces a specific Rite of Institution of Catechists. This is the base text that will then be translated and adapted by the various Bishops’ Conferences around the world.

The conferences will have the task of clarifying the profile and role of catechists, offering them suitable formation and helping the various communities grasp the meaning of the ministry, so that it will not be confused with other roles in the Church.

The Rite of Institution can take place during a Mass or a celebration of the Word of God; the Editio also indicates the readings from the Old and New Testaments to be used in the celebration. The Rite will follow a precise format, beginning with an exhortation to the candidate, followed by an invitation to prayer, a blessing, and the handing over of the crucifix.

A further step

The introduction of a Rite of Institution of Catechists marks a further step in the general reflection on ecclesial ministries, following up on the motu proprio Spiritus Domini, issued on 10 January 2021, which modified Canon Law on women’s access to the ministries of lector and acolyte; and the aforementioned Antiquum ministerium, issued on 10 May 2021.

In a letter accompanying the publication of the Editio typica, Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, emphasizes that the new Rite “offers a further opportunity for reflection on the theology of ministries in order to arrive at an organic vision of the distinct ministerial realities.”

The letter, addressed to the presidents of the various bishops’ conferences, proposes some indications concerning the ministry of catechist.

Nature of the ministry

First of all, the letter clarifies the nature of this ministry, quoting Pope Francis’ description of it as “a stable form service rendered to the local Church.” It is above all a “lay ministry based on the common baptismal state” and therefore “essentially distinct” from the ordained ministry.

Archbishop Roche explains that, “catechists, by virtue of their Baptism, are called to be co-responsible in the local Church for the proclamation and transmission of the faith, carrying out this role in collaboration with the ordained ministers and under their guidance.”

To avoid misunderstandings, the Prefect of Divine Worship clarifies that the term “catechist” indicates different realities in relation to the ecclesial context: “Catechists in mission territories,” for instance, “differ from those working in churches of long-standing tradition.”

In the great variety of forms, however, one can distinguish – “though not rigidly” – two main types: catechists with the specific task of catechesis, and others who participate in the different forms of the apostolate, such as leading community prayer; assisting the sick; celebrating funerals; training other catechists; coordinating pastoral initiatives; and helping the poor.

Ministry of catechist and other ecclesial roles

In his letter, Archbishop Roche says that since this ministry has “a definite vocational aspect” which requires “due discernment” by the bishops, not all those who are called “catechists” or who carry out a service of pastoral collaboration should be formally instituted in the ministry of catechists.

In particular, he says, “it is preferable” that certain classes of people not be instituted as such. These include: candidates for the diaconate and the priesthood; men and women religious, regardless of whether they belong to Institutes whose charism is catechesis; teachers of religion in schools; and those who perform a service aimed exclusively at members of an ecclesial movement, to whom this “precious” function is entrusted by the leaders of the movements and not by the bishop.

As for those who accompany the initiation of children and adults, they too do not necessarily have to be instituted in the specific ministry, but should receive at the beginning of each catechetical year “a public ecclesial mandate entrusting them with this important function.” However, this does not detract from the fact that some of them may be instituted as Lectors or Catechists, on the basis of their pastoral abilities and needs.

Defining the roles of catechists

The letter then specifies that it is the task of the individual Bishops’ Conferences to clarify the profile, role, and the most coherent forms for the exercise of the ministry of catechists. The Conferences are also called to define suitable formation programmes for candidates, and to prepare their communities to understand the meaning of this ministry.

Archbishop Roche notes that canon law provides for the possibility of entrusting to a lay person “a share in the exercise of pastoral care in a parish,” but says it is necessary “to form the community so that it does not see the Catechist as a substitute for the Priest or Deacon, but as a member of the lay faithful who lives their baptism in fruitful collaboration and shared responsibility with the ordained ministers, so that their pastoral care may reach everyone.”

The Prefect also explains the requirements for catechists, referencing Antiquum ministerium.

The ministry of catechist is open to men and women “of profound faith and human maturity active participants in the life of the Christian community, capable of welcoming others, being generous and living a life of fraternal communion,” with “suitable biblical, theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation,” who have received the sacraments of Christian initiation. Each candidate must first present his or her bishop with a “freely written and signed” petition seeking institution as a catechist.