Diocese of Victoria
St. John Paul II reminds us that, “According to Christian faith and the Church's teaching, ‘only the freedom which submits to the Truth leads the human person to his true good. The good of the person is to be in the Truth and to do the Truth’” (Encyclical Letter, “The Splendor of Truth,” Veritatis splendor, VS, 84). In this workshop, we explore not only what truth is and some of the different forms it takes, but also some of the obstacles we face in coming to know the truth and have confidence in our convictions. Objective truth does exist. We can make statements that describe the world as it really is. We are called to diligently seek out the truth, allowing God to open our minds and hearts in order to ultimately find the authentic peace and joy that come with discovering the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is Truth Himself (see John 14:6).
“The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life” (CCC 759). A plan born in the Father’s heart: from the genesis of life itself, to the last prophet of the Jewish people, the grand sweep of salvation history is unfolded in the 46 books of the Old Testament. The Covenants, the Commandments, and the promise of a Chosen One form the subject of this workshop, to give catechists a sense of the provident hand of God over our past, our present, and our eternal destiny.
“That which was from the beginning...that which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you...” (1 John 1:1, 4). The New Testament is the completion of the story of how the Father prepared the world for His Son, and the beginning of the story of the Church, His Body, His Kingdom, His Bride, His Ark to save a People He calls His own. This sweeping drama of truth, centered upon He is who is Truth, forms the message of the good news that catechists are privileged to offer to each generation of souls.
He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is in all, before all, through all. The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul, “the mystery of Christ.” (CT 5) Therefore everyone who teaches the Catholic faith must be immersed in this mystery. Using Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as recent ecclesial documents, this workshop will present the key doctrines that must be taught concerning Jesus Christ. By examining Jesus’ actions in Scripture, His relationships, and His ways of teaching, we will help catechists unlock the mysteries of Christ, His Incarnation, Redemption, and Second Coming. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.
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.
Jesus instituted the sacraments during His earthly ministry, and He entrusted them to the Church, so that the Church could continue His work of salvation and redemption. Regarding the sacraments, the Church teaches us that, “The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it . . .” (Second Vatican Council's Constitution “On the Sacred Liturgy,” Sacrosanctum concilium, SC, 59). Through the sacraments, God pours His divine life into our souls, transforms us to be more like Him, and strengthens us in faith, hope, and charity, so that we can be united with Him and remain faithful to the work entrusted to us. In this workshop, we’ll learn more about the sacraments, deepen in our appreciation for the sacraments, and be better prepared to participate in the sacramental life of the Church. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.
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.
The Blessed Trinity is the greatest of all mysteries: the One and Only God is a unity of Three Persons. The Trinity is also our final home, the goal of our life. This mystery, revealed in Jesus, sheds light on all other Christian mysteries. And it is the revelation that sheds light on all other Christian mysteries. Knowing that God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is a unity of loving Persons, changes our understanding of everything. Many religions believe in gods, some believe in one God, but nothing compares to the Christian belief in one God as a communion of Persons, named for us by Jesus as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many curriculums include the Trinity as only one doctrine among many. This workshop will help to show how to teach the centrality of the Trinity effectively, as the goal and fulfillment of the life of each Christian.
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. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.
“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for: The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 27). The basic proclamation of the Good News of Jesus’ saving life, death and Resurrection, known as the kerygma, is about giving the gift of belonging — the call to a life within a Love beyond all telling. This workshop lays out the essential elements of this most important story, enabling those who teach, share, and witness to more effectively unfold its surpassing beauty to other souls. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
The Church father St. Jerome said that, “To others grace was given in measure, but into Mary was poured the whole fullness.” Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Spirit, the Blessed Virgin has a profoundly unique place in the Mystical Body. She is the first and pre-eminent member of the Church, the model par excellence of faith, hope, and love for all Christians. She is the mirror-image of the Church’s unfailing holiness as virgin-spouse of the Word. This workshop looks at what God revealed to the Church about our Lady, and how those truths form us under her Motherhood as faithful disciples.
The Big Questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Where am I going? Unless one is sleepwalking through life, these are burningly urgent and profoundly relevant questions. How our loving God comes to us at our last breath can unfold so much about those critical questions. We’ll correct common myths about the “Four Last Things,” provide suggestions for teaching these amazing truths, and speak into the powerful curiosity we all have about crossing that final threshold.
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.
Flowing from the workshop called, “The Human Person,” this workshop addresses three of the major components of the human person and their relevance to the unfolding of God’s plan of loving kindness: 1) our creation in the image of God and His call to transformation by grace into His likeness; 2) our creation as male and female; and 3) the unity of body and soul in the human person. As we learn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “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 that no other creature can give in his stead.” (CCC 357) This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
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.
“And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them . . . and [Jesus] said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. . . .’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them” (Mark 10:13–14, 16). Jesus desires that the little children come to Him. As parents, priests, catechists, and teachers, we can bring the children entrusted to our care to the Lord, so that He may bless them and fill them with His love. The goal of catechesis is participation in God’s life. It is critical that we learn how to effectively engage the young mind and heart of each child, encourage each child to respect and love the things of the faith, and help each child discover the wonderful love of a gentle Father. This workshop will reflect on key aspects of a child’s psyche from ages
3–6, and how we can build upon what is naturally occurring within children, in order to allow Jesus to draw them into the heart of the Father.
“And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them . . . and [Jesus] said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. . . .’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them” (Mark 10:13–14, 16). Jesus desires for children to come to Him. As parents, priests, catechists, and teachers, we can bring the children entrusted to our care to the Lord, so that He may bless them and fill them with His love. The goal of catechesis is participation in God’s life. It is critical that we learn how to effectively engage the young mind and heart of each child, encourage each child to respect and love the things of the faith, and help each child discover the wonderful love of a gentle Father. This workshop will reflect on key aspects of a child’s psyche from ages 6–12, and how we can build upon what is naturally occurring within children, in order to allow Jesus to draw them into the Heart of the Father.
St. Paul, when instructing a young St. Timothy, wrote, “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). We can imitate St. Paul by encouraging the young people entrusted to us to discover who the Lord has called them to be, respond to His invitation to follow Him, and become young men and young women of virtue. It is critical for us — as parents, priests, teachers, youth ministers, and catechists — to learn how to effectively engage the mind and heart of each young person, so that they may receive the full and abundant life that our loving Father offers them. This workshop will reflect on key aspects of an adolescent’s psyche from ages 12–18, and how we can build upon what is naturally occurring within adolescents, in order to allow Jesus to draw them into the Heart of the Father.
The work of evangelization, of sharing the Gospel message with others, is vitally important, because the love at the heart of the Gospel is intended for every one of us — educators and students alike. The Gospel will meet every human longing, the Gospel can penetrate any culture, any community, and the Gospel is forever personal — Lover to beloved. Creating an environment within the Catholic school or parish classroom in which students are evangelized, transformed by the love of the Gospel, and led into discipleship of Christ is made possible first and foremost by the faithful witness of the educator. By us as teachers first being evangelized and seeking to grow in our relationship with Jesus, we transform our classroom and aid students in using their unique, God-given traits and talents to grow in holiness. This workshop will encourage us to see every moment as an evangelizing moment for the teacher as well as the students, and prompt us, as Catholic educators, to take seriously our own commitment to the teachings of the Catholic faith and our continual conversion to Christ.
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2). Revelation means to pull back the veil. It is God’s method of manifesting a bit of Himself, allowing us time to absorb it and respond, before He shows a bit more; and the process repeats. Because the work of catechesis is oriented towards conversion, the catechist needs to understand clearly how a person gets faith and grows in faith. This workshop delves in the sacred pattern of God’s methodology — how He reaches out to us, and how He calls us and enables us to freely respond.
Hidden within plain sight in every liturgy is the heart of catechesis – the mystery of Christ’s earthly vocation to return us to the Father’s loving embrace. A deeply Catholic catechesis seeks to uncover the profound meaning of the words, signs, and movements of worship to enlighten and enliven every truth we teach. Understanding the relationship between liturgy and catechesis is vital to forming souls – and to helping those we teach discover the peace and joy of their salvation.
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.
“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 goal of catechesis is participation in God’s life. It is critical that catechists learn how to effectively engage the young mind and heart of each child, encourage each child to respect and love the things of the faith, and help each child discover the wonderful love of a gentle Father. This very basic workshop focuses on the most fundamental catechetical methodologies that will enable the catechist of children to facilitate intimacy with God and fidelity to the Church. Methods and techniques will be demonstrated that encourage children to grow in wonder and awe, as they deepen their love for God and His truths. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy” (Second Vatican Council’s Constitution On the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, SC, 14). Mother Church desires that all of us — children included — fully and actively participate in the Eucharistic liturgy, the Holy Mass, so that we may experience the beauty and profundity that is present in every moment of the Mass and the joy of allowing Jesus to help us become the persons He has created us to be through its celebration. Every gesture and word of the Mass has significance, and children — when taught the concrete meaning of each element —can joyfully and excitedly engage with the Mass and encounter the Person of Jesus. This workshop offers a method to introduce the liturgy to children, in order for them to enter into the liturgical rites and to pray the Mass to the best of their abilities. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.
Pope Benedict XVI stated that, “the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina… will bring to the Church a new spiritual springtime.” Come and experience the prayerful pondering of sacred Scripture in the timeless Lectio Divina in which the Holy Spirit makes a connection between the passage and one’s own life. This way of praying with the Word of God incorporates the natural development of relationship, which derives from the way God has touched and drawn human hearts down through the ages. During this workshop, you will learn the four stages of Lectio Divina, which will help prepare you to share in this rich treasure of prayer.
St. Paul VI reminds us that, “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, is called 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” (Apostolic Exhortation “On Evangelization in the Modern World,” Evangelii nuntiandi 71). As teachers, administrators, or pastoral staff in a Catholic school, we are in a unique position to assist parents in building up the domestic church of their family, in strengthening their role as primary educators of their children, and in helping them learn ways of integrating the faith into the daily routines of their family life. This workshop explores how a Catholic school can intentionally and creatively foster this vision, so as to authentically support family life.