Why Africa Needs Catechists to Fill a Gap

Interview With a PIME Missionary

ROME, JULY 23, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Catechists are essential in the Church’s pastoral and evangelizing work, but material aid is needed to form them, says a longtime missionary in Cameroon.

“I have been a missionary in Cameroon since 1971,” Father Silvano Zoccarato told the Italian newspaper Avvenire. “After a few years of mission, I understood the extreme importance of the formation of our catechists. Since then, this has been one of my greatest commitments.”

The “effectiveness of our work lies in providing constant formation to people who are a bridge between the priests and the communities,” he said in an interview.

Father Zoccarato works in northern Cameroon. The local bishop has released him from fixed commitments so that he can train the catechists. A missionary of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), the priest is back in Italy for a year to work in diocesan seminaries.

Q: Why are catechists so important?

Father Zoccarato: The missionary and the local priest are impotent in vast missions with dozens of villages and thousands of baptized persons and catechumens.