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Diocese of Burlington

Welcome to the Diocese of Burlington's Parish Catechetical Leader (PCL) Certification program! Beginning in Fall 2019, Vermont's PCLs will be undergoing this new certification process. Each catechetical leader has two years to complete this 12-workshop certification. Each of you will be assigned a mentor who will walk with you as you progress through each workshop. These mentors are all here in Vermont, have been trained, and are excited to be a part of this process!

If you have any questions about this program or how to properly use it, please let me, Michael Hagan know!

Learning Tracks

PCL Certification
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.

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 explore the necessary connection of catechesis to the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church in our work as catechists.  The liturgy comes from the “living memory” of the Church, that is, the Holy Spirit.  Through the Holy Spirit working in the liturgy, the truths of the faith are passed on, like a special family memory, from generation to generation, to the present day.  Each time we participate in the liturgy we receive the treasure of the Deposit of Faith.  But the liturgy is more than a family heirloom – it is reality, the place in which “Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of human beings” (CT 23).  As catechists, we have a call, the privilege of assuring that those we catechize understand and grow in appreciation for this encounter with God.  We bring others into God’s saving work in the liturgy so they too can become transformed by He who loves us fully.  We teach about the liturgy to pass on the magnificent inheritance of faith to the next generation, echoing the action of catechists from the centuries before us.

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.”


Ever since St. John Paul II declared that “catechesis must often concern itself not only with nourishing and teaching the faith, but also with arousing it unceasingly with the help of grace for… total adherence to Jesus Christ,” the Church has understood that evangelization and catechesis must function as two sides of the same coin.  Pope Francis has movingly developed this mandate in Evangelii Gaudium by calling for a renewal of the kerygmatic aspect of catechesis, what he calls “the way of beauty,” and the right-hearted way of seeking the good as the ideal of a life of wisdom, fulfillment, and enrichment.  How does this vision become a reality in parish life?  How do we exercise effective catechetical leadership in this moment of the Church’s life?  This workshop explores these fundamental themes.

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.


Pope Paul VI proclaimed the single deepest need of any culture of life:  “At different moments in the Church’s history and also in the Second Vatican Council, the family has well deserved the beautiful name of ‘domestic Church.’ This means that there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church. Furthermore, the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms a part” (EN 71).  What does a parent as primary educator look like?  This workshop considers the apostolic call upon parents inherent upon the Baptism of their children, examine its practical implications and suggest applications for those who direct or teach in religious education programs.  When parents have their children baptized, they promise to raise them in the Catholic faith.  This has always been a very challenging task, but in today’s society it is even more difficult because of the complexities of family life.  This workshop explores our culture and its values, and how we as Church can affirm and support parents in their role.

As parish catechetical leaders, we are responsible for many components of evangelizing catechesis, including catechist recruitment, training and evaluation, program development and implementation, parent workshops, and a myriad of other responsibilities.  In this workshop, we discuss the complexities of a successful program and present practical ideas and techniques which lead to success.  This workshop focuses on a central questions for the parish catechetical leader:  How do I know if I’m succeeding in this job?  We explore tools to gage success and measure to what degree our programs and personal efforts are influencing the parish.  As well, we’ll examine creative and less-often used ways to reach out to and evangelize parishioners, particularly busy parents and other adults.

Called to Him.  Kept in Him.  Made new in Him.  God’s generosity and His fatherly love for His young daughters and sons are strikingly evident in the gift of these two sacraments to those newly arrived at the age of reason.  This workshop unfolds the Church’s guidance for parents and parishes in preparing souls for Confession and Communion.  By considering the role of both the home and the parochial settings, a balanced and effective formation can be achieved.  This pragmatic workshop also addresses common struggles and cultural issues that Catholic communities face in developing responsible and robust approaches to helping young souls be open to grace.



Effectively Confirming.  What the bishop gives sacramentally is always efficacious.  What parishes give catechetically isn’t always so reliably effective.  How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture?  How do we move from a program to a conversion process, from required hoops to revelatory hope?  Find out some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries.  This workshop will include insights from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, as well as examine current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation.

Christ our Lord had wonderful times with his apostolic band – “You are my friends” (John 15:13) – and tough times as well – “How much longer must I be among you and put up with you!” (Luke 9:41). The volunteer catechists we have the privilege of serving alongside of and leading in ministry merit our best efforts in training and equipping them for the ministry to which they are called. This highly practical pair of workshops examines the type of person who volunteers to be a catechist, reasons for volunteering, where to find volunteer catechists, screening prospects, the dynamics of working together in a parish program, addressing problem situations which may arise among or with catechists. We offers specific practical strategies for forming and training catechists in four critical areas: human, spiritual, doctrinal and apostolic. The aim of this pair of workshops is to place integral formation of people at the top of the list of priorities of a parish catechetical leader, to make possible a successful sharing of outreach to any age in every parish.

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