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Archdiocese of Riga

Welcome to the Archdiocese of Riga's landing page for Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Catechetical Institute!

Learning Tracks

Mentor Formation, Part I
May - July 2020

Mentorship is integral to ministry in the Catholic Church, as well as to life in the home. In ministry we are privileged to be able to participate in the Blessed Trinity’s divine and loving mentorship of every soul. In His gracious plan of salvation, God, our heavenly Father provides for us to receive all the guidance we need for our journey to Him, for our everlasting homecoming. Through the sending of His own Son and Spirit, He not only teaches us the Way to Him but also gives Himself to us to be our companion on this royal highway. The Church, the Body of His Son, formed by the Spirit, mothers and mentors us on this journey, and it is within this Body that each of us who are also called into ministry — whether as ordained members, as parents, or as lay catechists and pastoral associates — exercise a mentorship for those whom we serve. Our ministry, then, is a participation in His mentorship. Our ministry is one of the ways in which God makes this generous provision of mentorship for others.

This workshop explores the most critical element in the graced work of passing on the faith – you. Because the content of the faith is a Person – the Person of Christ – the person of the catechist is pivotal for success. The vocation of the catechist is to be a witness of Christ’s goodness, of His zeal, of His ways, of Him – to be like the Master. “Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus” (CT 6). This calling is both joyfully thrilling, and jarringly daunting. It is a supernatural work, beyond our natural capacities. “Catechesis . . . is consequently a work of the Holy Spirit, a work that He alone can initiate and sustain in the Church” (CT 72). And sustain in you. This foundational workshop offers inspiration, insight, and guidance to encourage catechists as they strive to live out their privileged vocation.

The ministry of catechesis and the ministry of spiritual formation are ordinarily somewhat separate in people’s understanding. Yet in the Church’s mind, they relate naturally and necessarily. In the General Directory for Catechesis we read, “Truly, to help a person to encounter God, which is the task of the catechist, means to emphasize above all the relationship that the person has with God so that he can make it his own and allow himself to be guided by God. . . . The catechist is essentially a mediator. He facilitates communication between the people and the mystery of God, between subjects amongst themselves, as well as with the community” (139, 156). This workshop explores what it means to be guided — an intentional docility and trust in the Church's ability to lead us to spiritual growth, to peace with God, to sanctity. Building upon this, we then examine the fundamentals of what it means for you to guide another soul in a catechetical context, so that you can more intentionally seek to be all that the catechetical vocation is graced to become. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

 

St. Teresa of Calcutta stated that, “I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual.  I can only love one person at a time, just one, one, one. . . So you begin.  I began – I picked up one person.  Maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up forty-two thousand. . . The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community.  Just begin – one, one, one.”  All conversion is local.  Formation in the faith is always first and foremost God’s attentive presence to the individual.  From this principle arises the importance of mentorship, and for that guidance to be proximal and personal: a mentoring accompaniment.  This workshop encourages all those in any form of ministry to discover by experience the value of making the effort to be more personally available to people.

Mentor Training, Part II
October - December 2020

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.

This workshop is about the central importance of personal vocation. In the words of St. John Paul II, the human person, each unique and unrepeatable, is “the primary and fundamental way for the Church” (RH 14). Each is called to a graced path: to eternal divine beatitude, and to live as a person devoted to the good of his or her neighbor. We will discuss the meaning of personal vocation as it emerged from the Second Vatican Council and was developed in the teaching of St. John Paul II. The unfortunate neglect of personal vocation will also be addressed. We will discuss the pressing need for integrating personal vocation into all Catholic formation. Mentors must situate their mentorship squarely within their own unique callings. In turn, they must help those in their care further clarify and deepen their own personal vocations. Personal vocation should not be a peripheral concept for the Catholic but a central and integrating principle of a life lived in and for Christ.

 

An important part of being a mentor is getting to really know the person under your care. In this workshop, we explore various kinds of questions related to this work of discovery, and demonstrate which ones best accomplish the objective of authentically revealing that person’s thoughts and needs to productively and wisely build the mentoring relationship. Poor questions result in missed opportunities or weak rapport. Great questions truly serve to open up a soul and build strong mentorship. We especially emphasize the value of open-ended questions oriented toward drawing out a person’s life story.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Empathic listening makes a profound impact on mentoring relationships and in the mentor’s ability to influence effectively someone seeking guidance. When mentors ask good questions, they demonstrate a sincere interest in getting to know those in their care. Such questions orient the relationship towards more authentic sharing, and thereby allows the Holy Spirit to foster spiritual progress and genuine openness to God’s will. This workshop is intended to complement the workshop on asking good questions. Empathic listening is the counterpart skill that enables mentors to truly understand another person intellectually as well as emotionally. As well as addressing the meaning of empathy, we discuss how Jesus provides the superlative pattern for this service to souls. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Foundational Workshops
Core Workshops

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.

Who am I? What is my nature? What has God created me for? Who has God created me for? The answers to these questions affect not only how I think about myself, but also how I think about those whom I catechize and how I encourage each of those whom I have the privilege of teaching to think about themselves. In this workshop we contemplate the unique answers that the Christian faith gives to these questions, answers that highlight the incredible dignity of every person. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

“‘And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, “You go into the vineyard too . . .” So they went’” (Matthew 20:3–4). We are invited by Jesus to participate in His work of redemption and sanctification; He calls us to come close to Him and sends us out to labor in His vineyard. As members of the laity, we labor in the vineyard in a unique way by being in the world and not of the world. St. John Paul II deepened the Church’s understanding of the role of the laity in the Church and in the world in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World,” Christifideles laici. This workshop unpacks the teaching of St. John Paul II in this document and describes the essential role of every lay person and how to apply it to the concrete circumstances of our own lives.

The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration “On Christian Education,” Gravissimum educationis, states, “Beautiful indeed and of great importance is the vocation of all those who aid parents in fulfilling their duties and who, as representatives of the human community, undertake the task of education in schools. This vocation demands special qualities of mind and heart, very careful preparation, and continuing readiness to renew and to adapt” (5). The role of an educational leader in a Catholic setting is to aid parents in the education of their children, so that their children grow in all aspects of life. The educational leader can do this by being a person of virtue. This workshop reflects upon how an educational leader is meant to foster the virtues of humility, magnanimity, and the cardinal virtues in their life, in order to better serve students, faculty, and staff entrusted to them. This workshop also examines what an educational leader is, considers how an educational leader hires a team, and how he or she evaluates the team and assesses how well it is entering into the mission of Catholic education.  

In his Apostolic Exhortation “On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World,” Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that: “. . . the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness” (88). As parish catechetical leaders, we are encountering others — our pastor, fellow staff members, catechists, parishioners, and so on — on a day-to-day basis, whether in person, through email, or over the phone. So much interaction is not without its challenges, and it takes work, as well as great trust in our Lord, to maintain healthy and flourishing relationships in the parish setting. This workshop will explore common challenges we face as parish catechetical leaders, ways by which to grow in virtue as the servant leaders we are called to be, and help us grow in our appreciation for those we work with in our ministry.

St. John Paul II stated that adult catechesis is “the principal form of catechesis, because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibilities and the capacity to live the Christian message in its fully developed form” (Apostolic Exhortation “On Catechesis in Our Time,” Catechesi tradendae 43). During His public ministry, Jesus invited men and women to follow Him and be His disciples. Through adult catechesis, we invite men and women to be Jesus’ disciples, and we accompany them on their journey of faith, so that they may come to believe more firmly, hope more ardently, and love more perfectly. This workshop offers practical insights on how to disciple adults, the need for pastoral accompaniment, and how to identify and sensitively address the needs that exist in every community.

“Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love . . .” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 357). The dignity of the human person dwells in relationship. It resides first and foremost in our relationship with God, Who created us in His image and calls us always to Himself. It resides, as well, in our relationships with others, who share in our humanity. Each of our ministries within the Church includes a call to relationship, and always a call to foster healthy and healing relationships. As we will learn in this workshop, certain communication skills underlie all healthy, healing relationships. Parish ministers are not therapists, but practicing these healthy ways of communicating encourages healthy relationships and can even foster healing amidst those they serve. Let us approach this workshop, then, ever mindful of the precious dignity of those our heavenly Father places in our path, and of the beautiful way in which each person we encounter holds within him or herself the astounding identity of being a child of God.

In his homily at the Jubilee of the Disabled, St. John Paul II beautifully stated: “How eloquent are your words for us . . . Lord of life and hope! Every human limitation is ransomed and redeemed in you. Thanks to you, disability is not the last word on life. Love is the last word; it is your love that gives meaning to life” (December 3, 2020). We also heard from St. John Paul II that “. . . the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right” that needs to be available to all people, and this includes persons with disabilities (Apostolic Exhortation “On Catechesis in Our Time,” Catechesi tradendae 14). This workshop will introduce the catechist to the Church’s teaching concerning catechesis for persons who have physical or developmental disabilities, and include practical assistance for catechists working with various special needs situations. This workshop will also help raise awareness among those involved in parish work of the many resources and sources of aid that exist to serve children and adults with these conditions.

The Parental Vocation
The Parental Vocation

Guiding children in the ways of the faith, leading them into a relationship of love with the Blessed Trinity is a ministry to which many of us are called in various capacities — as parents, godparents, catechists, youth ministers, Catholic school teachers, pastors, and so on. For all of us with children in our care, the question arises: How do we reach each individual child with the truth, and lead him or her in a way that will help inspire a lifelong relationship with Jesus? This workshop will provide an oportunity for you to consider your own relationship with God — since we cannot effectively hand on a relationship with our heavenly Father to others if we, ourselves, are not grounded in such a relationship — and provide you with ways of getting to know the children in your care more deeply, so that you might better understand how God can work through you to form their minds, hearts, and souls into those of saintsThis workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Recognizing that the future of the world and of the Church passes through the family, St. John Paul II exhorts the Christian family to “become what you are” in his document, "On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World," Familiaris consortio, paragraph 17. The Christian family is a community that lies at the heart of formation, education, and evangelization. This workshop walks us through this pastoral document from the saint who is often called the “Pope of the family,” examining the tasks facing the Christian family in both its natural and supernatural roles. It examines St. John Paul II’s teaching in Familiaris consortio, systematically exploring the tasks of the family that the Church, through St. John Paul II, has presented in the document. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation” (2205). Thus, the family reveals to us something about Who God is and how we are called to live as His beloved sons and daughters. This is the theology of the family, which we will explore in this workshop. Through the human family, we have the beautiful and unique opportunity to bring into the world and raise images of God, for we are all created in our Lord’s image, to be formed into His likeness and destined for eternity with Him in Heaven. The theology of the family does indeed present us with a lofty ideal, especially given that every family, due to the effects of the Fall, is wounded and broken by sin in different ways. However, as we’ll see in this workshop, God’s vision of the family is indeed worth discovering and pursuing, and we can seek to live it out even in the smallest of tasks of our daily lives as well as sharing our beautiful call as families with everyone we encounter. 

Catholic parenting is embattled in our modern world.  Often in our homes, good intentions contend with significant confusion about what a Catholic way of life looks like in the daily details.  Especially on one day – Sunday.  How does Mother Church guide us to a home life that is joyful, balanced, and peace-giving?  What does it look life for parents to claim that sacred ground for their family, defend it, and flourish within its blessings?

 

“Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. . . . In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1655, 1656). Jesus’ entrance into a family places a particular emphasis on family life. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and Christian families are primary centers of "radiant faith." The Christian family is the domestic church, because it is in the family that parents and children pray, sacrifice, worship, live charity, and offer witness of holy lives. This workshop teaches what the domestic church is and how God saves us in and through the family and the community that God has given to us.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Youth Ministry
Core Workshops

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.

What is good youth ministry in today’s Church? Every ministry to young people needs to have a clear mission and purpose, rooted in the larger mission of the Church, and needs to be able to identify clear values in the way that ministry is carried out. In this workshop, we look specifically at the essential components to a vibrant, effective approach to parish ministry for young people.

“Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us” (CCC 2560). Jesus not only desires to have a relationship with youth, but with youth ministers as well.  In fact, God cares more about doing ministry to people than he cares about people doing ministry for others. This workshop focuses on God’s intense love for us, and places that personal relationship as the center for all our ministry.

“So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message, with power to drive out devils.” (Mark 3: 13-14) The theme of discipleship is strong in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' document called Renewing the Vision. This workshop looks at what discipleship entails and what it means to help teens be not just a follower of Christ, but a disciple of Christ. And through helping teens become disciples of Christ, we help them along this path of companionship with Christ both now and to eternity.

Faith seeks understanding. Yet, understanding the social teachings of the Catholic Church is not enough. Teens need to be drawn into the apostolic life and mission of the Church, and be given tangible opportunities to experience that life at work. This workshop addresses the critical nature of outreach and service, and offers excellent resources for mobilizing teens for service and leadership. It also addresses the apostolic nature of the Church, and the great gift of priestly and religious vocations, helping youth ministers to understand how to draw young people into a greater awareness of that gift.

“At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2). When the Second Person of the Trinity became flesh and dwelt among us, everything changed. He used to speak through others, now He comes to us personally. This model of “incarnational ministry” should be at the foundation of our efforts to reach teens. For ministry to be effective, it has to be intentionally and consistently relational. As St. John Bosco once wrote that it was important “not only that the (youth) be loved, but that they know they are loved.” We explore how to do that safely and effectively in the current culture.

“The most effective catechetical programs for adolescents are integrated into a comprehensive program of pastoral ministry for youth…” (NDC p. 201).  The craft of passing on the faith is never a generic work. It is specifically attuned to those being drawn towards the Lord’s goodness. This workshop looks at the distinct features of adolescent catechesis as discussed by the National Catechetical Directory, with practical examples of how to utilize them in a youth ministry setting.

Understanding universal catechetical principles, such as the primacy of relational ministry, are important for every type of formation and outreach, yet these principles come to life in the context of each ministry’s unique demands. For youth ministry, though many elements of methodology are discussed in our other workshops, this workshop provides an opportunity to have specific questions answered about the ecclesial method applied to adolescents, retreat and semester planning, and effective ways to speak to groups of teens.

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