La familia's catechesis: The Mexican American family as a place of catechesis through la mística

Veronica Rayas, Fordham University


Historically, Catholicism has been a “home religion” among Mexican Americans as children grow up experiencing countless opportunities for faith expressions and spiritual wisdom. The spirituality and traditions of Mexican Americans is a rich source of Christian religious education as it forms, informs, and transforms people. While the church recognizes the family as a center for catechesis the implications of this insight especially for the lives of Mexican Americans has not been fully fostered. Statistics about the population growth in the U.S. show that Hispanic/Latinas will comprise 50% to 86% of the U.S. Catholic Church by 2050. This presents a challenge to the U.S. Catholic Church to adequately serve the ministerial needs of Hispanic/Latina families. This qualitative case study examines the experience of the Mexican American family, la familia, as a center for catechesis in El Paso, Texas. The study identifies and explores how la familia hands on the faith. It utilizes interviews and focus groups to surface the participants' voice as data for the study. For Mexican American families, catechesis is more than simply handing on a doctrine. It is the handing down, through traditions, of a new experience of the living God to subsequent generations. Traditional catechesis is usually textbook centered learning in a classroom with a teacher, and it focuses on doing. La familia's catechesis, on the other hand, is relational, grace centered, “traditoning” in real life situations by traditioners who teach a person to “be” in relationship with God. Five principles of la familia's catechesis emerged from this study: primacy of relationship with God, the community as a source of lived faith, La familia's social and popular religious traditions, and the catechetical formative environment. The study encourages a collaborative effort between parish religious formation programs and la familia's catechesis. In addition, there is a need to develop inculturated catechetical materials which take into account the Mexican American history and family experience to better affirm and empower Mexican Americans to live out their faith.

Subject Area

Religious education|Individual & family studies|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Rayas, Veronica, "La familia's catechesis: The Mexican American family as a place of catechesis through la mística" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3326428.