"'Teacher!' What a beautiful name this is! Jesus is our first and greatest teacher," the Pope reflected. "Saint Paul tells us that Jesus gave his Church not only apostles and pastors, but also teachers, to build up the whole body in faith and love."
"Together with the bishops, priests and deacons who are ordained to preach the Gospel and care for the Lord's flock, you, as catechists, play an outstanding part in bringing the Good News to every village and homestead in your country," he said.
Pope Francis thanked the teachers and catechists for their sacrifices, zeal and devotion.
"Thank you for your dedication, your example, your closeness to God's people in their daily lives, and all the many ways you plant and nurture the seeds of faith throughout this vast land," he continued. "Thank you especially for teaching our children and young people how to pray. I know that your work, although rewarding, is not easy."
The Pope called for bishops and priests to support their local catechists with doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral formation, helping them to persevere and be more effective in their witness.
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He stressed the importance of the job of catechesis, saying, "You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith, and you bring the joy and hope of eternal life to all."
In addition, he called on the teachers to offer an example of prayer, forgiveness and Eucharist.
"The message you bring will take root all the more firmly in people's hearts if you are not only a teacher but also a witness," he said.