Communication with the transcendent / Narrative Catechesis
- Carry out Christian initiation for young people and adults.
- Help the catechist to have a profound, sacramental experience of God.
- To help the catechetical person to experience the Mystery of Life, Passion, Death, Resurrection of Christ and its repercussion in the life of the community.
- To welcome the catechetical person in the Christian community in a concrete and participative way.
- Promote the role of children and young people in the community.
- Educate beauty as a constitutive part of the human being.
- Promote local cultural and artistic expressions.
The experiment started successfully in the early 2000s in the Santo Inácio de Loyola Community, in the Santíssima Trindade Parish, located in the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Faced with the challenges faced by traditional catechesis in this new electronic and digital culture in which we find ourselves immersed, Jesuit Alexandre Raimundo de Souza and communicator Luis Carlos Pacheco, known as Luca Pacheco, proposed a new methodology that privileged the experiential dimension of faith and recover biblical narrativity.
This is where Narrative Catechesis is born. Alexandre was inspired by an experience already carried out by the Jesuits in the Francisco Xavier Parish, added to the references of Luca Pacheco of Catechesis for Children in the Parish of Santissima Trindade who used the rich material prepared by the theologian Fr. Juan Antonio Ruiz de Gopegui, SJ. In reality, this methodology does not bring anything new, since it recovers an ancient tradition that goes back to the mystagogical catecheses of Patrística.
This mystagogical inspiration presented itself as an eloquent response to the current challenges for a catechesis that helps the catechist to have a profound, and therefore symbolic, sacramental experience of God in his life.
The biblical texts, before settling on the book, were stories told in an oral tradition. The Christian kerygma, before settling on the New Testament, was an oral account of the creation of the world and man in Christ, of his redemption and of his transfiguration in the dead and risen Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Narrative catechesis is the narration of the mysteries of the life of Christ, the center of the initiation into the Christian life. It is an educommunicational experience because catechists become storytellers, use theatrical and scenic language resources to narrate biblical texts.
Catechists, on the other hand, are instructed to deepen these biblical texts, reflect them in their lives and retell these experiences through artistic expressions such as visual arts, poetry, theater, dance, music, puppet theater, video and other arts . They recount to the community, through artist presentations, the resonance of biblical stories in their lives. In this way the whole community is also catechized.Narrative catechesis has developed in the parish as a space for protagonism and communicational expression, in addition to promoting access to culture, education and beauty as a constitutive form of the human person. Some of the catechists have become professionals, specialists, pastoralists, educators and communicators. Catechists became catechists and parish pastoral leaders. Most importantly, the experience of Narrative Catechesis has achieved its goal of helping people to have a profound experience of God
The Parísquia Santíssima Trindade is located in the city of Santa Luzia, in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte. Its faithful are workers from the humble class and who are acquiring, with much sacrifice, through daily work to pay for the education of new generations, improvements in the quality of life.
It is a parish with a Jesuit tradition, with an ecclesiology based on a vision of the Church “community of communities”, with a parish council for collegiate decisions.Children and young people were born immersed in the new electronic culture of digital media with their new ways of understanding reality. They are students from public schools with great difficulty in accessing the same educational and cultural conditions as students from the middle and upper classes, who study in private schools. Few of these young people make it to Higher Education and the rest become technical-level workers when they are not taken away by drug trafficking
The first step is the preparation of catechists. Catechists receive theological-biblical-sacramental training and are introduced to the art of storytelling and the artistic activities used in Narrative Catechesis. The first group of catechists participated in this formation during the period of one year. In this stage, the methodology, themes and programming of Catechesis were also organized.
A coordinator is elected every 2 years who has the function of mobilizing and motivating the group of catechists, in addition to representing pastoral care in the Community Council. The number of catechists depends on the number of catechists, considering that there should always be, at least, two catechists for each art workshop, one being more experienced catechist and another novice, usually from the old catechists.
At the end of each thematic block, an evaluation and preparation meeting for the next steps is held. This meeting is also an occasion for the formation of catechists according to need. During the vacation period, about ten days are dedicated to a more intense formation that also involves new catechists.
There is a turnover of catechists, usually coming from the Neophytes themselves of Confirmation, which guarantees vitality to the group of catechists and frees the most experienced for the formation of catechists from other communities and parishes.
- Pastoral Dimension
Part of the process of Narrative Catechesis is the participation of catechists in a pastoral stage. The parish pastoral leaders are invited to present their pastoral work to the catechetical students and they choose a pastoral to, during the period of one month, make an immersion experience.
The experience is of great success because the catechizing person is welcomed in the pastoral and knows through experience, actively participating in the work. The motivation for this pastoral internship is carried out in a context of mission. Catechizing returns and tells others about his pastoral experience, like the disciples who narrated their experiences to Jesus in the Gospel.
- Communicational Dimension
Narrative catechesis is an intense communicational experience. The entire process is communicative, from the formation of catechists to the mystagogy and sending of catechists. For the formation of catechists, an educommunicative ecosystem is created in which knowledge and skills are acquired through the experience of communion and participation. Art is a catalyst for these experiences, as well as a channel for communicational expression.
This same educommunicative ecosystem takes place in the daily catechesis through theatrical and scenic resources, such as setting with scenography, costumes and props appropriate to the themes treated in each meeting, telling of biblical stories, moments of prayer and meditation, resonances through art workshops. that privilege creativity and the role of catechizing, the process of producing a “show” for the community, moments of sharing, pastoral, liturgical and sacramental experiences in the mystagogical perspective. The catechist lives these experiences intensely and then, in their narrative, finds their deep and community meaning.
- Social Dimension
The first social impact occurs in the scope of access to cultural goods. Not only do catechists discover a space of expression in art, but the entire community also experiences this experience in the cultural presentations prepared by Narrative Catechesis. Some young people discover their skills there and become professionals with a Christian and humanistic background. Others find themselves social agents through their pastoral action and contribute to communication in a concrete way.
Some of these children and young people, previously vulnerable to marginality and drug trafficking, become good Christians and agents of social transformation who contribute to human and citizen formation in their family, study and work environments.
- Integration of areas of educomunicacional intervention
Narrative Catechesis is part of the communication intervention area with the transcendent, expression and art, and is integrated with the other areas due to its wide reach. The arts act as a space for communicative expression through biblical narratives carried out by catechists, as well as in the process of resonance in the lives of catechists in art workshops and in the production of cultural presentations to the community.
For this whole process, technical and pedagogical resources are used within the reach of catechists, such as videos, music, lighting, projections, panels, posters, mobile applications, thus integrating with the areas of technological mediation and communication pedagogy. Communication with the transcendent is another area that is integrated into Narrative Catechesis through symbolic and sacramental experiences.
- Methodology: strategies, techniques
Each Narrative Catechesis meeting follows the following methodology:
Setting: Creation of an educommunicative ecosystem, a scenography with images, symbols, lighting, colors, sounds, which helps the catechist to experience the “mystery” of the life of Christ that will be narrated. The meeting begins with a celebratory moment related to the theme of the biblical text that will be narrated (but the biblical text is not read).
Narrative of the biblical text: One or two catechists, with costumes related to the theme, narrate the biblical text, interpreting it with the tone of voice and gestures. It is not a reading, but the narration of a biblical text that was previously deepened by catechists, prayed and assimilated by the catechist (s) narrator (s).
Anamnesis / Rescue: Catechists motivate catechists to retell what they just heard. It is not a matter of talking about the meaning or meaning of the text, just retelling the story, reconstructing it with the help of the memories of each other.
Resonance: Catechists are divided into small groups and go to a separate place where art workshops take place. In the workshops they are motivated to tell how the biblical text resonated in their hearts, to share feelings and experiences evoked by the biblical narrative, to discover the relationship with their life, the desires that arise. After deepening the biblical text, catechists produce an artistic piece, according to their workshop (theater, dance, music, visual arts, video, poetry, puppet theater, etc.) to retell this story.
The structure of Narrative Catechesis is formed by thematic blocks that cover around 4 to 5 weekly meetings. During each block the catechists participate in a specific art workshop and in the following blocks they take turns, allowing everyone to experience the different arts of each workshop. At each meeting they produce a cultural presentation, according to the theme of the block that is built in each biblical narrative. At the end of each block, a “spectacle” is held for the community, usually after the Sunday celebration, as a sharing of the experiences lived by the catechists in that period.
Formation of Christians aware of their role in ecclesial communication, in the family and in society;
- Emergence of new pastoral leaders with motivation and creativity;
- Discovery of skills to perform tasks with competence and social responsibility.
- The artistic experiences of the production workshops contribute to teamwork in the perspective of dialogue, participation and respect for the different;
- The use of technological resources, as well as the productive process of cultural presentations, gives catechists a critical sense in the face of media processes.
- Participation in Narrative Catechesis generates abilities beyond the instrumental, above all that give meaning to existence, to the discovery of the human and Christian vocation.
- The transdisciplinary character of Narrative Catechesis contributes to the sacramental experience at a level of sensitivity that first touches the heart of the catechizing, and then, at another level, to deepen its meaning and resonances in his life.
- The common production process contributed to critical thinking, especially in the face of media processes, and to the formation of responsible leaders, aware of their role in society.
- The moments of resonance, reflection and sharing contributed to the sense of participation, dialogue, respect for the different;
- The productive work in the art workshops contributed to the creative expression of the feelings, conflicts and desires of each one;
- The processes of evaluating catechists and mystagogy of catechizing students were fundamental to deepen their experiences.
- The practice of Narrative Catechesis goes beyond interdisciplinarity and is articulated with the principle of transdisciplinarity.
- The convergence between art, communication, theology, exegesis, narratology and education goes beyond the level of disciplines and acts at the level of a praxis that highlights the sacramental experience.