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Archdiocese of New Orleans

Learning Tracks

Initial Formation
Profession of Faith – Jesus Christ

Mother Church insists that catechesis that truly evangelizes hearts, and that meets souls in the place of greatest need, must be unshakably centered upon Him who is our beginning and our end – Jesus Christ.  We teach Jesus, and everything we teach, we teach in reference to Him, thus teaching Christo-centrically.  Come explore how to unfold the life-giving truths of our faith with Jesus placed clearly at the center of all things: our teaching content, our teaching methods, and our own personal witness to others whom God has called us to love.

Throughout the generations, the Word of God has been handed on as a precious jewel. The Church has guarded this Deposit of Faith so that the saving message of hope might shine out for all to see. Now it is up to us. It is our turn to hand on this jewel, unscathed. It is up to us to catechize, continuing the unbroken chain of passing on the faith throughout the ages. The term catechesis comes from two Greek words meaning, “to echo down,” reflecting the call to us to “echo down,” to hand on, the whole of the faith in its saving fullness. This Deposit of Faith is summed up for our times in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We will look at this important teaching tool for catechesis in this workshop, to discover how we, too, can effectively pass on the precious deposit of Christian teaching. And in learning how to do this, we are able to insert our own name into St. Paul’s exhortation, “O catechist, guard what has been entrusted to you.”

 

Catholic Understanding of Scripture

Knowing and understanding Scripture is essential in the life of a catechist. This workshop will explore how God’s Word, transmitted in Sacred Scripture, grounds and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. In Scripture, we see the sweeping Plan of God, the history of salvation unfolded. We hear His stunning and steadfast invitation to communion with Him. Sacred Scripture ought to permeate all forms of catechesis, as well as our personal lives as catechists. Through creating lesson plans saturated with the Scriptures, we foster a profound encounter with the Divine – love and challenge, wisdom and hope, forgiveness and mercy, and the means to know God and to know ourselves. By breaking open the Scriptures in each catechetical session, we unlock the mystery of Christ, revealing to those we teach the One they desire to know, fostering life-changing intimacy with God.

This workshop will introduce participants to biblical catechesis through an ancient catechetical technique: the use of the Story of the Bible. The most important historical events of the Bible can be briefly described in one Story, connected by one common theme: union with God. The Story of the Bible portrays the drama of God’s love for every soul and the whole human race: how God created us to be united with Him in a relationship of love; how we lost union with God through the original sin; how Jesus re-united us with God in a relationship of love through His passion, death and Resurrection; and how the Holy Spirit fosters a continuing unfolding of those saving events in the life of Church, as the Lord’s Bride. Often in a catechetical setting we fall into the habit of teaching individual topics without reference to the greater context of salvation history. In order to draw others into the life of God and the Church we have to help them make this Story of the Bible their own. Everything that the Church teaches, her doctrines, disciplines, worship, and morality makes sense when delivered within the context of the Story of the Bible. The Story of the Bible tells us of our spiritual roots, our dignity, our destiny, and daily vocation to follow Jesus Christ, providing peace and authentic hope to those we seek to teach and evangelize.

 

Prayer, Sacraments, and Worship

In order to pass on the truths of Faith in season and out, the catechist must be securely grounded in Christ. This workshop will consider the richness of the Catholic spiritual life as it pertains specifically to the life of the catechist. Prayer is not the “last ditch effort” of defense for us as catechists, but our first line of defense - the wings on which every effort should soar. Our society often has trouble recognizing that the invisible spiritual realities are in fact “more real,” and certainly more lasting, than the physical realities we touch, see, hear, and experience daily. A review of the spiritual tools of the trade is thus appropriate to help us as catechists joyfully incorporate prayer as our first, middle, and last act of the day, and of the teaching session, creating an environment for catechesis that is permeated by prayer.

 

This workshop examines the place of the sacraments within God’s magnificent plan of love. More than simply Catholic rituals, the sacraments are God’s chosen channels of supernatural life, His plan for doing even more than saving us. “‘For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.’  ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 460).  This workshop will explore this extraordinary truth, and the provision of God to grace His adopted sons and daughters for a life far beyond their own natural capacity.

Ecclesiology and the Mission of the Church

The Church is the Body of Christ on Earth. The Church Christ founded is His continued history on Earth. The graces entrusted to Her make possible an explosion of sanctity in the human family. The revelation of truth entrusted to Her makes possible our secure return to the Father’s arms. The mission entrusted to Her engages all human endeavors, and transcends all human failings, so that God’s Spirit can go forth to fulfill Christ’s promise to “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). This workshop will explore God’s magnificent convocation of souls that we call the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

“. . . thus says the Lord . . . ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1). Through the saving life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed and called to know a sense of our belonging to the Blessed Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel, the kerygma, is the message we are called to share with all those we catechize, and the great story of God’s loving plan for our salvation and what He calls us to be. In order to proclaim the kerygma to any audience in a way that can be heard and inculcated — such that they desire to run to their Savior and return His love — it is important for us to understand the content of the kerygma, its different formulations, and the context in which we will be sharing it. This workshop will explore the essence of the kerygma and ways to effectively share it with the particular audience we have in front of us.

Morality and Catholic Social Teaching

This workshop offers a summary outline of the basic principles of Catholic morality and how our moral life is rooted not merely in a code of ethics or a set of rules, but profoundly in the Person of Jesus. It discusses some of the major moral issues we face in our society today, and equips all who teach the faith — whether youth ministers, catechists, Catholic school teachers, and so on — with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking, both in themselves and in those to whom they minister.

Pope Francis teaches us that, “Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. . . . Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in his love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good” (Encyclical Letter “On the Light of Faith,” Lumen fidei 51). In this workshop, we will be exploring how God wishes to form each and every one of us into the person He created us to be, through helping us love others and live for others, just as Christ Himself lived for us and loved us “to the end” (see John 13:1). Often misunderstood, the Church’s social teaching is not a partisan platform, an economic policy, or a political position, but rather is an integral part of proclaiming and living the Good News of Jesus Christ in community. We will present the social doctrines in this context and demonstrate how this aspect of Church teaching can help evangelize, console, and lovingly challenge us, as well as those we seek to teach.

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