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Franciscan at Home

Online learning at your convenience

Diocese of Duluth

Welcome to the Diocese of Duluth Home Page!

 

We hope that through your experience with these workshops, you would deeply encounter the great love that Christ has for you and be filled with the courage and zeal needed to share Christ with those you meet!

From this landing page, you can create your account and get logged in. Upon logging in, you will see on your dashboard that you have access to the workshops that have been developed by the Catechetical Institute.

The different tracks available on this platform are meant to be guides by which to recommend workshops to you that you might find fruitful to your ministry. Below you will see some Learning Tracks that the Diocese of Duluth has highlighted as a starting point. There are categories with specific recommendations for Parish Catechetical Leaders (DREs, Youth Ministers, Adult Faith Formation Leaders, etc.), Catechists, RCIA Leaders, and Parents. Feel free to explore and dive into the workshops that are most compelling to you.

If you have any questions, you can always reach out to me. Thank you for the great work you are doing to build the Kingdom in our diocese!

 

Grace Woitalla
Office of Catechesis
Diocese of Duluth
2830 E 4th St, Duluth MN 55812
218-724-9111 (Office)
[email protected] 
www.dioceseduluth.org

Learning Tracks

Parish Catechetical Leaders
Foundations

“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.

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.

 

Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:17).  Imagine Jesus facing you, and speaking to you these words, with no distractions, no doubts of His reality, identity or knowledge. Imagine facing Him with no loss of memory on your part about your whole past, nothing less than your whole future to offer, no misinterpretation of the profoundness of the question, Do you love me? A breathtaking question. Conversion is about finding what you are seeking in the deepest part of yourself, and finding it superabundantly.  The result of true conversion is a rare combination: peace of soul and zeal of heart. This workshop explores how to support this work of the Holy Spirit, so that all catechesis is focused on conversion to Christ and to His Church, and continuing conversion becomes the norm for each Christian life.

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.

Practicals

This workshop, designed for Parish Catechetical Leaders seeking to plan for and implement successful parish faith formation programs, discusses how the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults’ (RCIA) baptismal catechumenate format actually serves as a helpful model for doing so. This may be surprising, but the format of the RCIA baptismal catechumenate is actually modeled by Jesus in His encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35), and since then has been followed by the Church to form disciples. The presenter precedes this teaching on the RCIA baptismal catechumenate with the 1997 General Directory for Catechesis’ (GDC) key conditions that need to be present in the parish before beginning and concludes with ways to assess faith formation programs. Let's explore this method of applying the RCIA baptismal catechumenate to our parish formation programs in order to best foster conversion and form disciples of our Lord Jesus, to make saints!

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.

“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 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.

Sacramental Preparation

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.  How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture so that what we give in our parishes and schools catechetically is also reliably effective?  How do we not only provide a program, but also a conversion process, so that participants do not experience the catechesis we give as a series of required hoops to jump through, but revelatory hope?  This workshop aims to explore some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries.  It includes insights from Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium, as well as examines current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the sacraments of Christian initiation.

Youth Ministry

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.

“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.

“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.

Reaching Certain Age Levels
Adults

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.

Families

St. John Paul II tells us that, “Family catechesis . . . precedes, accompanies and enriches all other forms of catechesis” (Apostolic Exhortation “On Catechesis in Our Time,” Catechesi tradendae 68). These words challenge us to examine our thinking about how to pass on the Catholic faith within the parish or school we serve, and specifically to look at how to encourage the formation of the entire family.  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read, “The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom” (2207). This workshop examines the primacy of the family in religious education and the importance of assisting families in their formation, so that together the parish or school community and families can work to bring about the well-formed and beautiful soul of each member.

 

“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.

“Parents are the primary educators [of their children] in the faith” (General Directory for Catechesis 255). Therefore, “[f]amily catechesis . . . precedes, accompanies and enriches all other forms of catechesis” (St. John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation "On Catechesis in Our Time," Catechesi tradendae 68). Since the family is essential in the work of catechesis, this workshop discusses how to center a parish’s ministry around family catechesis, which allows the parish to aid the family by providing the education, encouragement, and accompaniment that families need. This workshop is primarily directed toward those who work at a parish that has decided to incorporate a more family-centered model of formation. It can also be helpful for parents, catechists, and so on, who wish to understand some of the key principles for implementing family catechesis within a parish, or who simply desire to grow in their spiritual lives in such a way as to lead their own families closer to Christ.

Teenagers

“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.

In the Directory for Catechesis we read: “The Church today looks with greater attentiveness at the passage from the age of youth to that of adulthood. . . . New approaches to pastoral and catechetical action must therefore be conceived that would help the Christian community to interact with young adults, supporting them in their journey” (256). In order to effectively minister to adolescents and young adults, it is critical that we understand some of the facets of youth culture and how to enter into it, so that we might shed light on what is good, and call young people into relationship with Jesus Christ. This workshop will provide guidance for all who work with young people as to how to better understand the culture in which they’re growing up, relate to them through their culture, share the Gospel message with them effectively, and accompany them on their journey of faith.

Children

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.

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.

“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.

Catechists
Foundations

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.

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.”

 

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.

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.

 

Method

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.

The General Directory of Catechesis says that, “Catechesis for adults, since it deals with persons who are capable of an adherence that is fully responsible, must be considered the chief form of catechesis” (GDC 59).  Is this what most adult Catholics understand?  Do most parishes orient sufficient resources to this endeavor?  Do the methods employed in parishes reflect the best possible principles for adult learning, which differ from methodology employed for children and adolescents?  This workshop will explore techniques to evangelize, catechize, and form faith in adults most effectively, given that the principle places of adult formation are in the family and in the parish.

Spiritual

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.

 

Doctrine

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.

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.

 

RCIA Leaders
The Vision for Christian Initiation

What is our purpose and goal as ministers in the Church in an RCIA process? To make new Catholics? To spread the Gospel? To run a good process? Our purpose and goal must transcend the “how” of RCIA and begin with the “why.” The restoration of the catechumenal process is a reflection of the Church’s wisdom in going back to a tried and true practice in order to lovingly bring people into Her fold. It is a restoration of grace for those who are seeking Christ and His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. This workshop inaugurates the necessary vision to develop excellent parish-based RCIA ministry, beginning with a call to trust the wisdom of Holy Mother Church in Her discernment to gift the modern world with a way of Christian initiation unparalleled in its beauty and power. Only in the light of this trust and deep understanding of the RCIA process, as the Church intends it to be implemented, does the full purpose and potential of the initiation journey become clear and attainable.

It is into the great mystery of the Father’s saving love through Christ Jesus that all believers are called.  And it is this great mystery that all the institutions of the Church, each and every one of them, exist to serve. The RCIA has no other purpose than the service of the holy mystery, the saving sacrament, of Christ present and active in His living Body.  The renewal of the process of Christian initiation stands as one of the most important and successful features of modern liturgical renewal. Since its promulgation in 1972 and its further elaboration under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has been among the most pastorally effective features of Catholic life in the United States.  And yet all is not well. The very fact that the challenge is conversion, the conforming of imperfect men and women to Christ, means that the process will never be perfect. Initiation is, after all, the beginning of a process which has its ending in eternity. However, there are problems that are more concrete and, for that reason, can more readily be corrected. In general, three models of RCIA are operative today in most Catholic parishes using the Rite. Each of the models conceives of, and practices, Christian initiation differently. This workshop describes these models, discussing their strengths and weaknesses in terms of catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral dimensions.  The result is clarity on how best the RCIA can serve the great work of immersing participants into Catholicism through a process of learning and interiorizing the sacred Scriptures, doctrines, sacraments, prayers, moral traditions, spiritual readings and rich communal culture of the Catholic Church, in order to serve the Father’s provident love in calling each soul to the living Body of Christ on earth.

From the ancient Nicene Creed we proclaim that “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.” The mystery of the Second Person of the Trinity is the God Who comes to us to save, redeem, instruct, give us hope and lead us to our promised glory. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We do not have a God Who is distant, but a God Who comes to us in the most intimate way. We enter into the mystery of Christ through a living Word, transforming sacramental grace, evangelizing catechesis, and evangelical communities. This workshop will explore how a rich understanding of the means by which souls enter into Christ’s life can be fostered in our approaches to ministry. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) to call each soul to God’s loving plan and sure hope in Christ. This talk describes the means to participate in that life.

Liturgical Aspect of Christian Initiation

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.

“. . . [T]he liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;  it is also the fount from which all her power flows” (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium 10).  The liturgy proclaims, celebrates, and actualizes the Father’s loving plan for His people.  The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), or catechumenal process, has three aspects: liturgical, catechetical, and pastoral, of which liturgical is prime. The Church has designed these aspects to promote deep, long-lasting conversion to Christ and a love for the Church.  This workshop will focus on the stages of the modern catechumenal process, which derives directly from the ancient order of catechumens, and the way liturgical graces build and crescendo through the four periods of the RCIA process to make possible the plan of goodness born in the Father’s heart for each believer.

Catechetical Aspect of Christian Initiation

“That which was from the beginning . . . that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” (1 John 1:1, 3). St. John Paul II proclaimed that, “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ . . .” (Apostolic Exhortation "On Catechesis in Our Time," Catechesi tradendae 5). The work of catechesis is not just “education,” but “intimacy with Jesus Christ.” God wants to make Himself known, to communicate His own divine life to us and make us capable of responding to Him. God gradually “pulls back the veil” (See 2 Corinthians 3:14–16) by words and deeds, but especially in Jesus Christ, the Mediator and fullness of all Revelation. By His Revelation, God has answered all the questions of the human condition. God wants all to be saved, so He arranged that His Revelation remain in its entirety and be transmitted to all generations. This workshop focuses on the apostolic work of passing on the truths of the faith in an organic and systematic way. This is done to make disciples of Christ and to initiate them into the fullness of Christian life through an encounter with the communion of believers and with Christ the Teacher. “‘The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 25)

This workshop explores adult catechesis within the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) baptismal catechumenate. Each period of the RCIA process has a distinctive catechetical objective in serving the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion, and so each period of the RCIA will have a different “feel” catechetically. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults itself gives us the guidelines for what participants need to know, and what we need to teach, thereby allowing the catechetical aspect of Christian initiation to become teaching in the service of leading others into the Father’s eternal embrace, a love beyond all telling

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.

Pastoral Aspect of Christian Initiation

St. Thérèse of Lisieux joyfully exulted that, “‘If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE — IT'S ETERNAL!’” (quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 826, emphasis in the original). We know that this love is the golden thread that binds all we believe, this love which has God as its source and which we know as the theological virtue of charity. It is the love of God that gives us truth to speak in gentleness and clarity, and life-giving concern to reach out sacrificially to all those souls around us. It is the love that makes us adopted sons and daughters. It is our beginning and our gifted destiny. This workshop delves into the vital nature of the love of brethren — the virtue of charity that helps us to love God first and love our neighbors as ourselves — that is to be the mark of any community calling others to join Christ’s Body.

The pastoral aspect of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) signifies the means by which we form and accompany souls, person-to-person, to a deeper relationship with the Trinity through the Body of Christ. Many who do not stay with the Church after going through the RCIA process leave not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of care. The pastoral components are the people who participate, some intimately and others from a distance, in Jesus’ graced work of conversion and discipleship of souls. It is the surpassing calling of becoming a gift to other souls, and receiving others freely as a gift from the Lord. This workshop addresses how the pastoral aspect of the RCIA process leads us to be sacrificial witnesses — the Lord’s chosen means to authenticate faith and relationship with the Trinity, to support conversion in lives, and through God’s saving message draw all people into the loving embrace of the Father and His People.

Parents
The Lay Vocation

God is the Holy One, and He calls His People to Himself to share in His life of everlasting happiness: “Be holy as I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45; also see 1 Peter 1:15–16). The Second Vatican Council renewed the Church’s awareness of this call in its Dogmatic Constitution On the Church, Lumen gentium: Chapter Five, which is titled “The Universal Call to Holiness.” In this workshop, we allow Mother Church to teach us about this call, a call impacting each one of us. We explore the challenges involved in making our response to this call, and celebrate the graces that God gives us for our sanctification. 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 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.

“. . . 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.

The Spousal Vocation

“We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World, Gaudete et exsultate 14). The Second Vatican Council reminds us that there is a universal call to holiness, which means that God calls every person to be in relationship with Him, and He calls each of us to be holy as He is holy (see Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1:15–16). Holiness is to be lived out in one’s particular state in life, and thus for parents, it is to be attained in both their spousal and parental vocations, through the help of God’s grace. This workshop offers reflections on the lives of a few parent saints, whose witness and ways of life inspire us to be holy parents, as we seek to do God’s will in the particular circumstances of our own family life. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it,” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter The Redeemer of Man, Redemptor hominis 10). The love that we are meant to "participate intimately in" is the love of God. God first loves us, and this love enables us to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves. St. John Paul II offers a reflection and teaching on human love in the Divine plan through his work called the Theology of the Body. This workshop explores that work, and offers insights on our vocation to perfect love and its relationship to the vocation of marriage and family life. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

God calls man first. . . . the living and true God tirelessly calls each person . . .” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2567). God continually calls us to Himself so that we may grow in intimacy with Him. The Lord also calls us to participate in His plan of salvation. This calling is a vocation, and at the heart of our response to the Lord is an offering of faith, obedience, and love. This workshop reflects on what a vocation is through a prayerful reflection on the calling of Moses, the Twelve Apostles, and the Blessed Virgin Mary preserved in Sacred Scripture. This reflection will help us to recognize God’s call in our own heart so that we may freely respond to His promptings. Let us approach this workshop in a spirit of prayer, with hearts open wide, ready to receive that which God has revealed in Sacred Scripture regarding His call for our lives. 

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.

 

Speaking of catechesis with adults, the Directory for Catechesis tells us: “The commitment to the maturation of baptismal faith is a personal responsibility that the adult above all must perceive as a priority on account of being involved in an ongoing process of the formation of his own personal identity. . . . [E]ven at this stage of life and with characteristic accentuations, accompaniment and growth in faith are necessary so that the adult may mature in that spiritual wisdom which illuminates and brings unity to the manifold experiences of his personal, family and social life” (259). In this workshop, we will explore a particular form of accompaniment by which one person — whether lay, consecrated religious, or ordained — journeys with another through spiritual, intellectual, human, and apostolic formation. Through spiritual accountability, an individual is held accountable to Jesus, to him or herself, and to the person accompanying him or her for the growth occurring in his or her life. Our aim with this form of accompaniment is to make missionary disciples of Jesus Christ — in other words, to accompany people in such a way so that they can then go share the Good News of the Gospel with others, and provide for others the spiritual, intellectual, human, and apostolic formation they, themselves, have received.

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.

“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.

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.

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