Kelly McLoughlin was a teenager when she first began teaching catechism classes. She taught first graders how to make the sign of the cross, spoke to them about the Mass and helped them to love Jesus.

Decades later, McLoughlin will have a new role: training catechists, who will then teach children and young adults in their faith.

“I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame,” said McLoughlin, who always knew that she wanted to be a teacher.

As the director of religious education at St. Louis de Montfort Church since 2005, she’s had plenty of opportunity to share her faith with others, but after completing a three-year program in Advanced Catechetical Ministries (ACM) she will take on greater responsibilities.

McLoughlin was among hundreds gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sept. 10 to celebrate the commissioning of new advanced catechetical ministers, youth ministers and other religious ministers. Bishop Joseph Brennan led the hour-long prayer service.

The commissioning service is a 35-year-old tradition in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “What started it was the need for the laity to be recognized,” said Dione L. Grillo, coordinator of Advanced Catechetical Ministries and Basic Catechist Formation. “According to the California Conference of Catholic Bishops, you are not a certified catechist until your bishop commissions you to be so.”

She added, “This is a way of recognizing them, acknowledging them, and then bless them and send them out.” Grillo is proud of those being commissioned and knows the personal sacrifices that led them to this moment. “It humbles me and makes me want to be better.”

Bishop Brennan spoke to the catechists about the greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He read from Roman 13: 8-10, where St. Paul says, “All the commandments are summed up in this saying.”

After years of teaching and learning Catholic doctrine, McLoughlin agrees.

“When I got hired at my parish in 2005, I said yes to the job and then I immediately thought, ‘I don’t know enough,’” she recalled. “I was thinking of my head — and it is good to grow in your knowledge — but I knew that I had enough heart.” She added, “Because when you are trying to help someone grow closer to Christ, it’s your heart that leads you. That’s it. It’s love. Everything else is secondary.”

But in order to better understand Catholic doctrine, McLoughlin believes the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the place to start. “I like that you can look something up by topic and it is helpful if you are curious about dispelling a myth about our faith or [learning] more about something,” she said.

After the event, she posted on Facebook, “Three years of training are over. Now the work begins.” She later noted, “But I’m ready for it. I’m excited.”