Diocese of Birmingham
"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you heard through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well." (cf. 2 Tim. 2:1-2)
The Diocese of Birmingham is proud to partner with Franciscan University at Steubenville to provide ongoing formation for those studying and sharing our Catholic faith. This partnership is at the service of parish catechists and catechetical leaders, Catholic school teachers and administrators, families, study groups, and clergy.
Franciscan at Home offers an experience of online faith formation that is focused on the ongoing spiritual growth of each participant. By connecting learners with mentors, formation is accompanied, relational, and personal.
For those involved in parish catechesis, the partnership with Franciscan at Home offers the means for onboarding new people in the Church's vision and work of faith formation; it also offers ongoing formation and certification for those whom the Lord calls for service in the ministry of catechesis.
For the purposes of participation in this formation program, parish religious educators have been divided into three groups with different roles and responsibilities -
- Catechetical Aides: baptized adults who serve in parish faith formation programs in limited and/or temporary ways. A common example would be a parent volunteer who assists in his/her child's formation class as needed, without the intention to continue in long-term service in the work of catechesis. Catechetical aides are asked to complete the "Catechetical Basics" workshops in one year.
- Catechists: baptized and confirmed adults in good standing with the Church who serve in a stable way in an area of parish catechetical ministry. For example, a person who persists in serving as a teacher in a First Communion or Confirmation program or one who persists in serving as small group facilitator in an RCIA program is considered a catechist, not a catechetical aide. Catechists should pursue certification through this formation program by completing the "Catechetical Basics" and "Core Catechist Formation" workshops within a two-year period of time.
- Catechetical Leaders: baptized and confirmed adults in good standing with the Church who serve in a stable way and have been delegated leadership roles by their pastors over some area(s) of parish catechetical ministry. This category would commonly include: directors of religious education/faith formation, youth ministers, sacramental preparation coordinators (First Communion, Confirmation, RCIA / OCIA), adult faith formation directors, children and family ministers, sports ministry leaders, and so forth. Catechetical leaders should pursue diocesan certification through completion of the "Catechetical Basics" and "Core Catechist Formation" workshops, as well as completing the Franciscan track of study most suited to their area of ministry (e.g. RCIA coordinators should complete the "Catechumenal Ministry" track, youth ministers the "Youth Ministry" track, and so on). This work should be completed within a three-year period of time.
Catechists and catechetical leaders who complete their course of study will receive diocesan certification through Franciscan at Home. If catechetical study has been done or is being done through another institution of Catholic formation, participants may be certified by reaching out to the Office of Religious Education to establish equivalencies.
Diocesan catechetical certification, along with prayer, discernment, and pastoral recommendation, will be prerequisites for a person being instituted in the lay ministry of catechesis. As recently announced by Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Antiquum Ministerium, this new process for recognizing women and men in the work of handing on the faith will begin in our diocese in the near future.
Ongoing faith formation is vital for all Catholics, but especially for those called to a vocation in our Catholic schools. It is the desire of the Catholic Schools Office to support our faculty and staff by offering ongoing catechesis through Franciscan at Home. The Catholic Schools Track will begin in year one with the following workshops:
It is hoped that participants will participate in these workshops together as school communities when possible, engaging in meaningful dialogue throughout each semester.
There are 12 workshops in the Catholic Schools Track. Faculty and Staff who complete the track will receive diocesan certification through Franciscan at Home. Pacing and timelines for completing certification will be outlined during the spring semester of 2023. Faculty and staff are welcome to register for any additional elective workshops that are of interest.
Families, Study Groups, and Clergy
Franciscan workshops may be useful as formation resources for people outside of parish catechesis and Catholic schools. Among many other possibilities:
- Parents may find the "Forming Faith at Home" track helpful in learning how to grow as witnesses of faith to their children
- During the 3-year period of Eucharistic Revival in the United States, parish study groups may benefit from participating in the “Eucharistic Renewal” track.
- Clergy and other church leaders may find support in offering mentorship and spiritual guidance through participation in the “Pastoral Accompaniment” track.
Creatively make use of the Franciscan’s deep library of catechetical offerings in your own ongoing formation and in that of your community.
If you have any questions or needs related to use of Franciscan at Home, please reach out to your diocesan support team at [email protected]