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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Franciscan University’s Catechetical Institute works to help dioceses offer substantive, rich, and engaging catechetical formation at the local level.

Our work is grounded in key catechetical principles put forth by the Church and honed in our on-campus setting for the past three decades. As the questions and answers below show, although we have now expanded our work online and in local settings, the principles guiding us have not changed.

If you are not able to find an answer to your question from the lists below, please contact us via email at CI@franciscan.edu.

Questions related to our key principles

Why does subsidiarity matter so much in evangelization and catechetics?

In his landmark social encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI gave the classic definition of subsidiarity:

“Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them” (QA, 79; emphasis added, see CCC 1883, 1894).

The Catechetical Institute takes seriously the principle of subsidiarity. We recognize that passing on the faith is a social activity. All conversion is local, which is why faith formation must remain a robustly supported local activity. As an Institute, we don’t want to bypass those in the local community who have the responsibility for forming others in the faith, and we trust participants to take responsibility for their own learning (CL 63).

Failure to honor this principle risks disempowering the local community in favor of a cult of experts. As the General Directory of Catechesis explains:

“Catechetical pedagogy will be effective to the extent that the Christian community becomes a point of concrete reference for the faith journey of individuals. This happens when the community is proposed as a source, locus, and means of catechesis. Concretely, the community becomes a visible place of faith-witness. It provides for the formation of its members. It receives them as the family of God. It constitutes itself as the living and permanent environment for growth in the faith. Besides public and collective proclamation of the Gospel, person-to-person contact, after the example of Jesus and the Apostles, remains indispensable. In this way, personal conscience is more easily committed. The gift of the Holy Spirit comes to the subject from one living person to another. Thus, the power of persuasion becomes more effective” (GDC 158).

All of the Catechetical Institute’s online formation is designed to support and complement the formation being undertaken locally and personally, in parishes, families, schools, and communities. Never forgetting that formation in the faith is always first and foremost God’s attentive presence to us as individuals, our workshops address various aspects of what best fosters local competency. This includes encouraging personal accountability to excellence and creating tasks that demonstrate the effectiveness of soul-to-soul persuasion, dialogue, and genuine openness to others.

Likewise, we seek to honor the movements of grace within each person called to the work of catechesis, building people to serve people. In our workshops, we encourage relational ministry, challenge the prevalent “program-running” mentality, and support parish and school leaders in developing greater administrative efficiency, all with the goal of helping them to be more personally available to people. Following this Divine pedagogy, the work of forming souls must be attentive to the words of Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi:

“[I]n the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one’s personal experience of faith? It must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to the multitudes should cause us to forget this form of proclamation whereby an individual’s personal conscience is reached and touched by an entirely unique word that he receives from someone else” (EN 46).

In light of this, how does the Institute support local parishes and communities as centers of learning and formation?

In Acts 2:41-42, Luke describes the first local Christian community:

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.”

As noted in this passage and echoed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, four pillars marked this early community’s way of being together: 1) The Apostles’ teaching (Creed); 2) Fellowship (Life in Christ); 3) The breaking of the bread (Liturgy, centered on the Eucharist), and 4) The prayers (Christian prayer).

Non-local efforts can aid or enrich these four pillars, but their essence is fundamentally local. Fellowship is profoundly proximal. The Mass, and all the sacramental celebrations, exist only when clergy and laity share a sacred space and a personal moment of offering and reception. And the prayers, always stemming from Jesus’ own emphasis, draw us together: “If we pray the Our Father sincerely, we leave individualism behind, because the love that we receive frees us from it” (CCC 2792).

The first pillar, however, the one that encompasses catechesis and formation in Catholic teaching, is less often recognized as a work self-evidently local. In current times, guest speakers from afar and high-quality audio and video teachings have threatened to replace local catechists. This presents numerous problems.

First, for all their talent and all they have to offer, these guest speakers and video teachers are not connected to the many local dioceses and parishes that use their services, nor are they involved with the ongoing work of forming and loving a particular people in a particular place. They are unable to participate in the struggles and graces involved with forming those people. Likewise, an over-reliance on distant experts can undercut a diocese’s commitment to form people locally — a commitment that takes far greater effort, time, and resources, but which also is able to more fruitfully address the particular needs of a parish, region, or diocese. Moreover, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, this harder way is the Church’s way:

“The most precious gift that the Church can offer the bewildered and restless world of our time is to form within it Christians who are confirmed in what is essential and who are humbly joyful in their faith” (Guide for Catechists, 8).

To reemphasize, non-local helps and training can aid this first pillar, but its essence remains fundamentally local. The long-term goal should be forming a confident parent in that place, a competent catechist in that place, a capable lay leader in that place, and, most important of all, a clearly empowered chief catechist in that place. A priestly father whose vocation can become the locus of teaching, community fellowship, liturgy, and prayers allows the immanent hospitality of Christ to enliven catechesis with a spirit of human warmth and welcome around that particular altar.

To make this possible, in our workshops, we encourage participants to grow in self-knowledge, offering tasks that increase awareness of faults and problematic comfort zones in relationships. We also offer personality/temperament analysis, help learners discover common needs and motivations in their communities, and create workshop tasks that hone participants’ ability to listen, show authentic interest in another’s good, and practice empathy.

Why are mentors so important in this process of formation?

As we have seen, the Institute’s overarching priority is forming those who have the responsibility for forming others in the faith, not replacing those people with distant experts or high-production-value video and audio resources. We want evangelization and catechesis to remain appropriately situated with those who can be in authentic ministerial relationships in the field.

To accomplish this, the online workshops designed by the Institute rely upon mentorship — and we envisage that this be as local as possible, with mentors in local families, parishes, schools. By offering workshops that are best taken with a local guiding figure, the Catechetical Institute seeks to encourage dioceses in the direction of mentored formation. The Institute’s approach allows for a person-to-person engagement over extended periods of formation, guided by the tasks and assessments in the workshops.

While this asks for greater time commitments by both learners and mentors, there are clear advantages. Learners become better ministers and are enabled to take more creative ownership of their own call to serve and form souls. Likewise, mentors and diocesan officials can develop deeper relationships with those they are called to lead and form as well as grow in their own formation skills and ministerial competence.

How does this approach allow us to be co-workers with God as he forms his people?

The Church teaches that God’s own educational activity is at the heart of all catechetical formation, and this education, first and foremost, takes the form of evangelization (see CT 72; CL 61, 63; GDC 33, 138, 238, 244). The basic Gospel message is always necessary, desired, and able to transform. Whatever the time or the place, the Gospel can penetrate any culture. 

If local sources of formation are not familiar with the kerygma, a parish or school runs the risk of teaching the unconverted. Therefore, in our online workshops we encourage an articulation of the kerygma for different types of groups and create tasks that help catechists learn to discern to what degree those they are teaching have accepted the basic Gospel message.

As St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, “We are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9). We collaborate with God, who educates and forms us for eternal happiness. God’s formation of us is rooted in sacramental grace, which elevates nature. Accordingly, authentic spiritual formation is fundamentally liturgical and Eucharistic, and thereby manifestly local. In our online workshops, we support this local formation by encouraging times of Adoration; by creating tasks that stress the importance of Mass and confession; and by helping participants articulate how various doctrines relate to the liturgy. 

How does the Catechetical Institute support formation in community?

The Institute wants to help local communities develop ongoing formation at all levels and ages (CT 43, 57; GDC 59). Part of this ongoing formation is ongoing conversion. Spiritual formation is our first priority. The goal for every catechist is to “become what you teach” — to become a witness. The person of the catechist — not their skill or the program they run — is what makes for effective catechesis.

For this reason, in our workshops, we encourage a personal inventory of how participants are seeking God; create tasks to help them grow in specific virtues; recommend the use of lectio divina and guided meditations; and encourage specific prayer habits and forms. We also stress the importance of family. In both our teaching and assessment, we strive to recognize vocational callings and encourage students to live those out. In our workshops, we encourage participants to clearly articulate their vocation, and we create tasks that invite them to first prioritize and distinguish between ministerial and vocational callings, and then apply what they’ve learned about vocations to practical situations in their own communities.

How is the Franciscan charism present in the formation offered by the Catechetical Institute?

A spirit of Franciscan joy permeates our academic life here at Franciscan University, and in our online workshops, we encourage just such a joyous response to ministerial challenges. The closer we grow to Christ in his Church, the more joy we experience.

This entails a radical openness to God’s will and an acceptance of the refining and transforming role of suffering. We recognize that such joy flows from great trust, generosity, and personal sacrifice. Moreover, in the workshop tasks, we aim to foster an instinctive loyalty to Mother Church through the graced channels of the Church’s hierarchy and an acceptance of the faith, whole and entire, in all its rigor and vigor. We hope to encourage those who take our workshops to welcome the guidance of the Spirit’s voice in the magisterium and ministry of Peter. Everything we do, we strive to do for the Church and with the Church.

Above all, the spirit of discipleship we seek to foster in our Institute is deeply personal and local, with one soul reaching out to another. In all we do, we seek to follow St. Teresa of Calcutta’s advice: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”

Questions related to those taking our workshops

In addition to the questions and answers below, please note that posted at the top of this page is a link to a collection of brief video tutorials and a set of PDFs to assist you with various needs.  Please always feel free to reach out to us at CI@franciscan.edu or 740-283-6754.

How should I approach these workshops spiritually?

We are excited that you are about to embark on the learning process of this workshop. What you are entering into is not just another online course, but a formation experience that draws from the time-tested mentoring strategies handed down by catechists throughout Church history blended with an online format that gives you access to the best Catechetics faculty and speakers in one location.  As you embark on this adventure, permeate everything you do with prayer.  We recommend that you pray along with the presenter at the beginning of every workshop, and when you come to the end of a task you've completed, pray again.  The division between each segment is marked.  These dividers would be a great place to deliberately place yourself in the presence of the Triune God we serve and say a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God's Holy Name.  This can be as simple as saying a “Glory Be.”

How should I approach these workshops as a learner?

We strongly recommend as you learn that you journal on any thoughts that come to mind as you work through the videos and tasks of each workshop. This will be a valuable record of your learning journey, and a possible inspiration for conversations with your small group, critical friend, or mentor.  Some of the workshops will have pre-tasks to introduce the topic and provide a way to enter into what the workshop is sharing.  These pre-tasks are meant to help you think about the broader perspective of the topic in regard to ministry work.  When completing these workshops, do not be afraid to just be yourself.  It's ok to share your weaknesses, in understanding or in faith, with your mentor.  In fact, the best way of learning is to let your weaknesses be seen so that they can be addressed.  We often learn best from making mistakes, so put your whole heart into these workshops that your mentor will respect your vulnerability, challenge you, and encourage you.  You can expect your mentor to occasionally correct spelling of key terms, or phrasing that, if used,  could be misunderstood in a way that would distort the faith.  Your mentor will not be correcting grammar and spelling elsewhere, so if this is not a strong point, do not worry!  Your mentor has the option of responding to your work in batches, perhaps after you have submitted several exercises.  Other times they will respond to one submission at a time.  A mentor should take approximately a week or less in responses to you.  It is fine to move on to the next segment even when your mentor has not yet responded.  Often mentors prefer to let you finish a whole workshop and then set up a time to talk via video or phone, or face-to-face if you are in the same parish or school community.

How do I get the most out of these workshops?

You have access to all of the workshops currently posted on our system, and any added in the future (we add about 4-6 new workshops each month).  From your dashboard, we welcome you to use the navigation tools to search for workshops of interest to you, or to begin one (or more) of the ministry tracks.  If you are seeking to do a ministry track for a certificate, please go to that track and begin with the first workshop listed, and continue doing the workshops in the order presented.  Each workshop has a series of videos and tasks associated with the topic.  All the resources and reading you will need for any of our workshops are contained within each workshop’s page, either as reading on the screen, or links to documents available online.  Each workshop has a downloadable PDF of a few pages of handouts, which we suggest you print out before starting the first video.

As a key point of advice for you to get the most out these workshops, we encourage you to seek out a relationship that we call a “critical friend” (critical in the sense of important rather than criticizing).  A critical friend is someone who helps you to be accountable to the goals of your learning, and someone with whom you can share your thoughts candidly.  A critical friend is a sounding board; someone you trust.  Most importantly, the critical friend is someone who is on a similar learning level as you – he or she is not a second mentor, but rather an available, supportive person, a spiritual friend to walk along this learning journey with you, and with whom you can chat and discuss what you are discovering through these workshops.  This could be a spouse, neighbor, co-worker, someone you are in a parish group with, a long-time prayer partner, etc.  Above all, it is someone who is really interested in you, your good, and your growth in the Lord.  We’ve designed all these workshops to lean into this kind of relationship, as an indespensable part of your progress.  To look at it in a bit of a fun way, a critical friend is sort of like St. Clare to St. Francis, Sam to Frodo, BJ to Hawkeye, Chewy to Han Solo, Speedracer to Trixie, Scottie Pippin to Michael Jordan, Holmes to Watson, etc.  You will have conversations with them about what you are learning, and in some tasks we will ask you to explain a point to your critical friend before taking it to other teaching or sharing circumstances.  

A few learning tips as you begin...

The Catechetical Institute uses the term “tracks” to describe areas of ministry focus.  Within each track are a set of one-hour workshops that are divided into “core” areas and “electives.”  Each workshop has been professionally filmed with a live audience and three cameras.  Art, innovative media, music, and other creative elements have been extensively incorporated.  All source material is provided in a highly user-friendly manner, designed for those not familiar with online learning platforms.  Each one-hour workshop is broken up into 10-15 minute segments, to make for ease of viewing.  After each segment, you'll be asked to complete a task which is designed to be field-applicable, real-world, and spiritually formative.

Once you've completed a given task, and you hit the “submit” button, two things happen.  One, the task answer is sent to your assigned mentor, received via email, seamlessly connected by the learning platform.  Two, a box appears below your answer that offers the thoughts of the catechetics faculty here at Franciscan University on that task.  These are pre-written into the learning platform and allow you to receive not only the insight of a live mentor, but also the wisdom of those experienced catechist formators who presented the workshop and authored the tasks.  We call this method double mentoring.  Taken together, this approach ensures a higher level of feedback and ability to really grow ministerially from the tasks.

The active study of texts, such as the Bible and Catechism, is greatly rewarding, but you often need a few techniques to get started.  When we suggest that you do some reading, it’s helpful to print relevant sections or better yet to have a hardcopy book.   We recommend reading with a pencil or pen in hand.  You may find it helpful to mark the text in the following ways:

  • Underline points or ideas the author is indicating as important.  One indication that a point is being emphasized is that the words or ideas recur; another is that the point is written about in a particularly arresting way.
  • Mark any words or ideas when you are not certain as to their meaning.  You’ll want to check the meaning of these — check any footnotes, or a biblical dictionary to help understand them (a link to this resource is provided on each workshop's page).  Probe the text; make it a habit to ask “Why?” of passages.
  • You’re trying to understand why the writer has written what you are reading.  Experience shows that these points are often some of the richest veins for exploration.  Be patient and keep questioning.
  • Mark any points which strike you, where the words seem to “leap off the page” or are especially pertinent for you at the moment; you may want to return to these in prayer, or even memorize certain lines.
  • It is an ancient practice to read passages out loud, and it can assist you in focusing on the words and their meaning.  Practicing the skill of learning and discovering the faith ever more fully will inspire those we teach to do the same.

To inspire and encourage you...

Since the time of the apostles, people have shared their faith in Jesus Christ person-to-person, generation-to-generation, in an unbroken chain.  In every generation the Lord calls his people to pass on what they themselves have received:  “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you” (1 Cor 11:23).  If at any point in history just one or two generations had neglected this Christian calling, millions of people today would not know Jesus and his message of salvation.  We might be among them.  

As catechists for adults, we are part of this generation’s link in that unbroken chain of faith.  Handing on the faith is a deeply personal endeavor.  Those we invite towards a deeper love for God and his Church will one day invite others.  Generations yet unborn may one day trace their spiritual lineage to our – your – efforts.  So let us begin.  May the good Lord bless your desire to seek Him more deeply, and may you find good fruit for your soul here!

What are some of the terms commonly used in the online learning platform? 

  • Track:  an area of ministry focus (Youth Ministry, RCIA, etc.). 
  • Certificate:  a qualification offered within a specific track. 
  • Course of Study:  a collection of workshops within a track. 
  • Workshop:  a topic in a ministry area that a learner takes. Each workshop includes about an hour of video and an additional two to three hours of ministry-related tasks. 
  • Segment:  a portion of a workshop. A workshop is normally composed of five to nine segments. 
  • Presenter:  the person teaching in the videos. 
  • Mentor:  a more experienced catechist, teacher, or leader to whom a learner may choose to be assigned who journeys with the learner, reviewing the learner’s responses to workshop tasks and offering guidance. 
  • Critical Friend:  a critical friend (critical in the sense of important rather than criticizing) is someone who helps a learner to be accountable to the goals of a workshop and with whom a learner can share his or her thoughts candidly. A critical friend is a sounding board, someone who is on a similar learning level as the workshop participant — not a second mentor, but rather an available, supportive person, a spiritual friend to walk along with you on this learning journey. This could be a spouse, neighbor, co-worker, someone in a parish group, a long-time prayer partner, etc. We’ve designed these workshops to lean into this kind of relationship as an urgently important part of a learner’s progress. 

Will I be graded for my work?

No.  Many learners bring up concerns about written work, concerned about spelling and grammar.  Please write as you write, we are not grading on perfect English.  Write as clearly as possible to get the best response from your mentor, but relax and do not worry about making mistakes. The mentor is not judging your English, but looking instead at the content.  If English is an area in which you struggle, write as comfortably as you can. The mentor will provide thoughts on spelling only of crucial words related to ministry that you may someday be using as you teach, and on grammar only if there is a specific way in theology that a phrase needs to be stated to be clear. 

How do I switch mentors?

Unless a mentor relationship becomes problematic in some way, you would ordinarily have the option at the end of a track to be paired with another mentor.  It can be great to be mentored by a different person per track, to gain a variety of knowledge, but in some cases, you may want to keep the same mentor.  If an earlier change needs to take place, please talk to your diocesan administrator or contact the Catechetical Institute.

Can a single parish or school join without a diocesan partnership?

Whether your diocese is adopting the program or not, an individual parish or school can enter the system.  All members will receive the enrichment level participation (without a mentor) with the $300 per year parish subscription.  The parish or school can then give whichever learners it wishes to the ability to be mentored by leaders in that parish or school.  If a parish would like certain people to received mentorship from the Catechetical Institute, then those people would need to register separately as mentored learners through the $12.99 per month individual subscriptions.  Once your diocese becomes a partner, then the diocese would normally begin arranging for mentors from the local area.  We offer substantial discounts to dioceses that opt to put all of their parishes and schools on www.FranciscanAtHome.com.

Which workshop collections (tracks) are currently in development by the Catechetical Institute?

With over 100 workshops in multiple ministry areas available on www.FranciscanAtHome.com already, we are continuously releasing new workshops each month. We are currently releasing about 3-6 new workshops every month.  These workshops make use of the experience and skills of dozens of outstanding presenters from all over the United States and several other countries, and seek to provide the best training available in each ministry area.

Tracks open on our system now:

Catechist Track
Four Pillar of the Catechism Track
Parish Catechetical Leader Track
RCIA Track Formation
Youth Ministry Track
Catholic Schools Track
Ministry of Parenting Track
Hispanic Faith and Family Track
Pastoral Accompaniment Track
First Proclamation and Evangelization Track

Tracks coming in future months and years:

Young Adults Track (Release Date: 2021)
Diocesan Officials Track (Release Date: 2022)
Culture of Life Track (Release Date: 2022)
Priestly Renewal Track (Release Date: 2023)
African American Faith and Family Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Special Needs Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Music Ministry Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Sports Ministry Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Franciscan Spirituality Track (Release Date: To be announced)

If I am seeking a certification, should I complete the workshops in the order that they appear?

Doing the workshops in their numerical order is not required but is certainly the best approach.  The individual workshops (aside from those marked as part I and part II) are not designed to be strictly incremental, but certain topics are foundational and provide helpful context for later subjects covered within a ministry area.

Can I take any workshop on the system, or only those within a certain track?

Once a person registers as an individual subscriber or as part of an institutional subscription, all workshop currently posted on the system become available to them, as well as all those added in the future. The system is designed to allow for a subscriber to both follow a track and take any workshop of interest outside of that track simultaneously.

What data is recorded by the online system?

Aside from the information collected from each user during registration, the system tracks the pace of each learner through a workshop, the online interactions with a mentor, the degree to which each video segment was viewed by a learner, the evaluation form submitted at the end of each workshop, the number of workshops completed, any documents submitted by the learner, any certificates earned by the learner, and the status and point of renewal of each individual and each institution (parish or school).

What is the normal time commitment for those being mentored through the Catechetical Institute’s workshops?

Each individual workshop is designed to be completed over the course of one month, though some learners choose to complete this in a shorter time period and others choose to take more time. The workshop itself has one hour’s worth of video content, divided into segments by engaging assessments which can vary in their time commitment (from simply writing “Complete” to prayerfully describing how you intend to apply what you have learned in your own life and ministry).  This would ask a learner to commit to about three to four hours of study per month.  Normally it takes a learner between 2-4 hours to do the various tasks in a given workshop, often over a period of days or weeks, depending on that person’s preferred pace.  Learners can progress faster or slower if desired, unless the diocese has determined a pace. On average, each course of study within a track consists of 12 months (workshops) worth of work.

How are mentors assigned?

For those seeking mentorship through a diocese, the diocesan offices would normally match mentors to learners, or delegate that decision to parish or school leadership. For those requesting a mentor through the Catechetical Institute’s monthly subscription, assignments are made by the Institute staff based on availability and on the ministry area in which a learner wishes to take workshops. 

How are mentors evaluated?  Can a mentor be changed?

Mentors are individually selected and vetted through a detailed training process.  Once a mentor is actively serving those taking workshops, the mentoring experience is evaluated by each mentee as part of the final step in concluding each workshop.  If a person feels that his or her mentor is not helpful, a request to change to a new mentor can be submitted by email, and will normally be honored.

If a technical problem occurs within a workshop, with my log-in process, my account, or other parts of the website, who do I contact?

For online system glitches and similar issues, please email the Catechetical Institute at CI@franciscan.edu or call 740-283-6754.

Are there any resources planned in Spanish?

The Catechetical Institute at Franciscan is building into our set of online workshop offerings a Hispanic ministry focus.  This collection is called the Hispanic Faith and Family Track.  In the many dioceses with which we are now in communication, the demand is obvious and the need is clear.  This track has workshops filmed in Spanish, so that the material and teaching is firstly in Spanish, and inculturated already, as well as workshops dubbed in Spanish from among our most popular English-language topics.

What is the mission of the Catechetical Institute’s magazine, The Catechetical Review?

When your parishes or schools sign up under the Catechetical Institute, they will receive a hard copy of The Catechetical Review, and the learners who register under their parish or school’s subscription will be able to access the articles from the magazine online.  The Catechetical Review is an international quarterly catechetical journal primarily written for Directors of Religious Education, catechetical leaders, religious educators, youth ministers, RCIA coordinators, and anyone involved in faith formation.  Its contributors, who aim to help in the formation of all those in a position to hand on the faith, come from academic catechetics faculties and “from the field.”  Subscribers receive: four beautiful full-color issues per year; online access to downloadable, reproducible articles; online Spanish translation of select printable articles; online access to projectable art for our Inspired through Art series, which may be used to teach the faith using art, or as a back drop for reflective prayer.  Parishes and schools may assign multiple online users accounts for their catechists and teachers with a paid subscription.  For more information: https://review.catechetics.com

Do the workshops accommodate those with hearing difficulty?

Each workshop video segment is posted with captions, as well as the ability to print out a full transcript.  Workshop all have a downloadable handout that provides an outline of the teaching, as well as relevant quotations and resource recommendations.

What other resources does the Catechetical Institute have to offer dioceses and individuals?

The Catechetical Institute’s website has a section for Resources that contains an immense array of options to explore for every level of Catholic ministry formation: video, audio, articles, books, tutorials, and PDFs.  All these resources are arranged in a highly user-friendly searchable format, so that anyone from a busy monsignor to a busy mother can locate useful things.  These resources are offer to anyone, not just those registered to use our workshops.

Beyond the workshops offered by the Catechetical Institute’s, what other formation does Franciscan University offer?

Whether you are right out of high school, right in the middle of your life, or right about ready to try a new direction or a next step, Franciscan University has programs that meet you where God has you.  Studying theology at Franciscan University means you combine learning and love: You’ll know more about the faith and how to live it. Your witness is the best instruction in the faith you can give the world, which is why Franciscan has more theology majors than any other Catholic school in America and why parishes and dioceses that hire Franciscan University graduates are confident they are hiring men and women who know their faith, love their faith, and are able to pass that knowledge and love on to others.  First in the country to take the Oath of Fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium in 1989, and internationally known for excellence, the University’s faculty is renowned for the faithfulness of our teaching and the quality of our preparation of graduates to serve the Church.  The guiding spirit of our programs is dynamic orthodoxy.  That means we teach from the heart of the Catholic Church, passing on the unchanging truths of the faith in all their eternal glory with passionate fidelity.  Franciscan offers online and on-ground associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree in theology and catechetics.  For more information: https://spt.franciscan.edu/department-of-theology

Questions related to those mentoring through our workshops

In addition to the questions and answers below, please note that posted at the top of this page is a link to a collection of brief video tutorials and a set of PDFs to assist you with various needs.  Please always feel free to reach out to us at CI@franciscan.edu or 740-283-6754.

What does the Catechetical Institute mean by a mentoring approach?

Formation in the faith is always first and foremost God’s attentive presence to the individual.  From this principle arises the vital importance of mentorship, and for that guidance to be proximal and personal: a mentoring accompaniment.  The overarching priority of the Catechetical Institute is to commit the effort necessary to form those who form others, rather than replace them with distant experts or high production value video and audio resources. Evangelization and catechesis can thus remain appropriately situated with those who can be in authentic ministerial relationships in the field.  To accomplish this, all the online workshops designed by CI critically rely upon mentorship.  By doing this, we seek to encourage dioceses in the direction of mentored formation and person-to-person engagement.

While this means greater time committed by both learners and mentors, there are clear advantages: for learners, that they become better ministers, with better results than less-attentive formation methods could ever achieve, and that they are enabled to take more creative ownership of their call to serve and form souls.  For mentors and diocesan officials, these workshops help them to grow substantially in their own formation skills and ministerial competence, to discover an effective mechanism for accountability and excellence, and to find themselves ever more deeply in relationships with those they are called to lead and form.

As mentors we truly have the privilege of walking with each learner, each a unique reflection of God, each called by Him to a distinctive mission for building up his Kingdom. “Christ provides for our growth: to make us grow toward him, our head, he provides in his Body, the Church, the gifts and assistance by which we help one another along the way of salvation” (CCC 794).

What is the difference between teaching and mentoring?

Most people who are mentors are also teachers in some capacity in their parish or school.  When you are in a “mentoring mode” think about more as a relationship of “walking with” than “teaching at” – a proverbial arm around the shoulder – a ministry of encouragement rather than seeking to inform.  We are all aware of the loneliness of many people in ministry – the isolation of the catechist in a classroom, or parents in a culture of indifference, or of priests working on their own.  The mentoring role is to support, reinforce, refer back, and refer on to other workshops.  Don’t become second teacher.  Help them to use the teacher well, to trust the teacher, use the sources, not to see you so much as an expert on all things, but instead more of a sounding-board and friend.

Mentors seek to listen, to take a sincere interest in another soul, enjoy achievements, believe in what they do, support their mission, and help them through difficult patches. We find good points to affirm in their work, countering the tendency to make our points refer only to problems and shortcomings!  We can always find some genuine good points in a workshop. By identifying and noting genuine strengths, we affirm people in things they may not otherwise recognize or repeat.  This consolidates the good and cultivates virtues.  If we did just this, we would be doing something very worthwhile.  Don't waste the power of acknowledging the good!

Trust the workshop tasks and help learners to trust them as useful and helpful for formation.  Remember you are there for personal long-term support.  This “slow evangelization” avoids giving in to the illusion of rapid formation. Progress will be over a period, a sequence of workshops. Hopefully you will have the person for at least a dozen workshops.  Mentoring needs to focus especially on building confidence by encouragement not so much correction.  Always think, where can I be of most assistance in supporting this person?  Above all, we pray, asking the Holy Spirit to show you how to assist well.

What is the normal time commitment for mentors working with those taking the Catechetical Institute’s workshops?

This will vary over time, but an estimate would be about an hour each month per person being mentored.  So, if you have twelve mentees, for example, that would translate to about twelve hours a month.

For a catechetical leader mentoring people in his or her own parish or school, this might be a very different estimate, since mentoring would often occur in a group setting rather than always one-on-one, and some individuals may need little personal time and others (such as new teachers) may receive more attention.  Generally, for those mentoring within their own parish or school community, we suggest doing so in whatever way is most natural for you to be in relationships with the people you lead, and most suits your available time and desire to cultivate certain people.

Many local mentors in these circumstances do not answer workshops task-for-task online, but instead talk with people more directly, meet as needed in person or chat on the phone, and sometimes choose to mentor a group rather than single individuals (such as an RCIA team going through workshops together, or a groups of school teachers, etc.).  When we assist dioceses in training mentors (normally the existing body of catechetical and school leaders in that diocese) we help them see how to make the mentoring role work with their goals for building up their people, and not to be a burden or an “extra” role, but instead a deeply helpful means to grow the people they lead towards excellence in ministry.

Relative to all the tracks the Institute intends to create, how will I know what I’m qualified to mentor?

This will be determined for each mentor; the initial judgment is based primarily on your experience and level of catechetical understanding of any given ministry field.  As time goes on, mentors can venture into other workshops and tracks, and thereby potentially gain sufficient practical understanding to serve more and more areas of the Institute’s work.  In general, it is not necessary for a mentor to go through every workshop prior to mentoring someone else in that content; a mentor can simply experience it in the course of serving the first learner that goes through a given workshop.

Are there any ways to the Catechetical Institute helps train or assist mentors?

We offer CI Formation Days many times a year, usually at the request of partner dioceses.  Though we accommodate to a diocese’s available timeframe, this on-site training is normally a full day in length, beginning at breakfast and ending prior to dinner.  This kind of event is usually done as an in-service offering targeting all faith formation leaders and catechetical leaders in the diocese. It creates substantial positive momentum, generates many excellent questions from which the whole group benefits, and also serves to give a diocese a shot in the arm on person-to-person discipleship.  This day is excellent for anyone wishing to understand how to mentor well or how to encourage others to do so.

We also have a set of outstanding workshops on FranciscanAtHome.com that will greatly help any mentor grow in his or her pastoral accompaniment skills:

  • The Vocation of the Catechist
  • Catechetical Mentorship
  • Being Guided and Guiding Souls
  • Personal Vocation and the Mentoring Relationship
  • Building the Mentoring Relationship: Asking Good Questions
  • Building the Mentoring Relationship: Empathic Listening
  • Mentoring in Ministry

These workshops are available for free to any mentor on the system.  Some dioceses require them, some simply recommend or encourage them.

How are mentors normally assigned?

For those requesting a mentor through the Catechetical Institute’s monthly subscription, assignments are made by the Institute staff based on availability and for the ministry area in which a learner wishes to take workshops.  For those seeking mentorship through a diocese, the diocesan offices would normally match mentors to learners, or delegate that decision to parish or school leadership.

How many people is good to mentor at a time?

Generally, we have found that for someone in full-time ministry (such as diocesan official, parish catechetical leader, youth minister, or school principal), it is completely doable to mentor between 10-40 people.  This is especially the case if the mentor is serving people only within his or her own parish or school community, since the mentoring role is integrated with the normal duty of cultivating and caring for those he or she is already seeking to lead towards greater excellence in ministry.

What’s a good way to start a mentoring relationship?

A mentor gets an email notification when a learner has been assigned, and that learner appears on the mentor’s dashboard under the section “learners you are mentoring.”  In your first email to the learner introduce yourself directly, warmly and simply, avoiding stiffness or over-formality.  Make it clear from the beginning what your response timeline will look like – we strongly encourage all mentors to be forthcoming about when they will respond to the learner.  Some mentors like to response task-for-task; some prefer to wait until a whole workshop is completed, and then respond; some prefer to converse only via email; some prefer to respond via phone conversations or video chats.  In local mentoring relationships within the same parish or school, face-to-face meetings as needed may be more natural.  Especially where teams are involved (such as RCIA teams or youth ministry volunteers or a group of teachers in a school), it may work better to mentor the group together and watch all or some portions of a workshop as a group.  In sum, whatever the context and form of your communication with learners, the bottom-line is to please be very clear at the begin how you intend to respond to a learner’s efforts and work.

Here’s a simple suggested text for a mentor who is planning to review workshops with learners after learners finish a whole workshop rather than answering task-for-task (that’s the mentor’s choice):   

“Dear ---, I look forward to serving as your mentor through the workshops of this track!  I’m so glad you’ve started this path of formation.  Please note, I won’t be responding to you task-for-task through, but instead I will wait for you to complete a whole workshop, and then I will reach out to you to set up a time to discuss that whole workshop via phone or video chat.  I very much look forward to being of service to you, and I hope the workshops are of help in your ministry work!  I’d be happy to answer any questions I can as you get started – don’t hesitate to reach out.  Please know that I’ll be praying for you by name, and that I’m thankful for this chance to walk alongside you in this way.”

For further interactions early on, ask yourself:  What can I do to be genuinely approachable to this person?  Consider asking a few good questions.  Open-ended questions are best for getting to know others because they enable creative, self-revealing responses.  What do you hope to gain from the Catechetical Institute workshops?  Ask yourself: What can I do to discover what this person most needs and what I can do to help?

How are mentors evaluated?  Can a mentor be changed?

Once a mentor is actively serving those taking workshops, the mentoring experience is evaluated by each mentee as part of the final step in concluding each workshop.  If a learner feels that his or her mentor is not helpful or not a good match, a request to change to a new mentor can be submitted would normally be honored and can be done by a diocesan official or by the Catechetical Institute staff.

What is a normal response time to a learner’s work?  What do I do if a learner wants to do more workshops than one per month?

If you are doing task-for-task responses as opposed to talking with a learner at the end of whole workshop, you would normally respond within a week, which should help prevent the work submitted by a single learner from being too overwhelming.  Learners who are being mentored are not allowed to expect a mentor to increase his or her response time to faster than a than a seven-day period.  A mentor can decide to respond more quickly (and this is certainly encouraged), but this is not assumed to be the norm.  In any case, as a mentor simply be sure to communicate clearly with the learner about when and how you plan to respond.  Especially if there are any unexpected delays – just to keep the learner informed so that they know that they are not forgotten!

How do I determine whether a learner’s workshop should be approved to be considered completed?

Each mentor needs to judge whether a workshop has more or less passed muster.  In the vast majority of cases, a learner would not need to redo any work, but simply need to be encouraged in any weaker areas and then allowed to move forward.  When a workshop is completed and sent to a mentor for final review, normally a mentor should read all the task answers, and then reach out to the learner and set a time to meet via phone, video chat, or in person.  Of course, some mentors will instead respond with helpful thoughts and encouragement via email only, and this is fine.

The means of response (calling, video chat, emailing, in-person) should fit the natural way in which a mentor wishes to interact with that learner and that mentor’s sense of what he or she can manage in terms of time.   In whatever manner, it is important that some positive, encouraging interaction occur between a mentor and a learner prior to hitting “approve.”  It is normal to wait to hit “approve” until after an interaction of this kind has occurred.  Seeing that final email from the learner come through stating that a workshop is complete is the normal prompt to reach out and set a time to talk.

Most mentors usually don’t make use of the “needs work” option, but instead communicate any concerns or corrective elements in the course of a conversation or an email chain with a learner – we’ve found that it is more gentle and pastoral that way.  For those mentors who opt to communicate with learners solely via email, the “needs work” option is the preface to a typed explanation and a clearly noted way to move forward in a positive manner.  We always want to avoid discouraging a learner or giving the impression of being “graded” in a penal sense.

How does a learner earn a certificate for a track or a part of a track?

For earning certificates for a given track, the workshops that need to be completed are listed online as the structure of that track, readily viewable, often arranged in one or more columns.  Normally, a diocese or an independent institution (usually apostolates or religious orders) provides its own mentors and its own certification approval.  FranciscanAtHome.com is capable of generating custom certificates with a diocese’s or independent institution’s logo and signatures.

If a learner is seeking a certificate from Franciscan University for a given track, that person needs to go through the $12.99 per month individual subscriptions (or come to the annual summer St. John Conference Bosco) and then we’ll assign a CI-trained mentor, which is the requisite for an FUS certificate.  Normally, a learner can receive a certificate for each column of workshops done in a track, under a mentored guidance, and having that mentor approve each workshop once all tasks are completed.

What if a learner wants to speak in person, on the phone, or by video?

Relationships with learners in this context are in written form unless of course you are in the same parish or a diocesan gathering of learners allows for other forms of mentorship.  In general, we encourage whatever form of communication is most natural and promotes the best presence to the individual learner. Many mentors who work at-distance prefer video chatting over typing responses or phone calls. Local mentoring would generally be more often in-person in the normal course of how those individuals relate in the parish or school community.

If a learner strongly feels that he or she cannot express a certain thing in writing, he or she is welcome to make an audio or video recording and upload that file to their response box (which the system is designed to accommodate).  The answer boxes for the tasks are also able to interact with most common talk-to-text apps.

How often should I reach out to a learner if the person is not regularly doing workshops?  If a learner has been dormant for a while, how should I reach out?

Don’t worry too much about learners who have periods of inactivity – some people focus in dense periods of time on the workshops and then take a break, particularly Catholic school teachers, who often have time only in the summer or other off periods to progress on workshops.  We’d suggest sending them a “hello, how are you doing” email if they’ve been inactive for more than three or four months, such as:

“I hope you are doing well.  Since I haven’t heard from you in little while in regard to workshops on FranciscanAtHome.com, I wanted to touch base with you. I pray that God will grant you all of the necessary graces that you need at this time.  May the Christ fill your heart with true peace, hope and joy.   At this time, I just encourage you to continue to grow in your faith through Franciscan at Home workshops.  The Lord is inviting you to a time of growth in your understanding of our Catholic faith and in your spiritual life.  He thirsts for you and wants to fill you with many graces!  I pray that you may find consolation in the workshops and cling to Him evermore.

If you have any special prayer requests, please let me know!  I am praying for you by name as you continue your journey with the Catechetical Institute.  Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. May our good Lord bless and keep you!  It is a privilege and joy to serve you as your mentor in these workshops.”

What if a question seems more appropriate for spiritual director?

The workshops, regardless of topic, are all designed to foster a learner’s spiritual growth and to offer gentle challenge in following Christ and His Church more fully.  Though in most cases a mentor can very fruitfully act as a general guide to spiritual growth in the context of how the workshop tasks point learners forward, sometimes issues arise that may need guidance from a person more deeply trained in spiritual formation.  It is most certainly ok to let a learner know if you feel as a mentor that you’ve arrived at such a conclusion for a given interaction.  In such cases, a learner’s parish priest or another local figure should be suggested as a first point of reference.  You are also welcome to seek advice from your diocesan administrator, or by emailing the Catechetical Institute.

How should I handle tough ministry questions or what if I get a learner submitting inappropriate information as task submissions, or questionable or heretical material, or not completing satisfactory work?

Beyond isolated issues with an occasional task response, which should be handled generously by asking for clarification, if as a mentor you see a pattern in a troubling direction, you are welcome to seek advice from your diocesan administrator, or by emailing the Catechetical Institute. As far as the functional manner for a learner to re-submit a task to a mentor, he or she can re-enter a workshop at any point, go to a particular task in question, type new elements into the answer, and then hit the blue button below that task to send it to the mentor again.

A mentor could also just take the task response that he or she originally received and continue the request for corrections or changes as part of an email chain stemming from that original submission.  In this case, the workshop may be “pending” approval as long as it takes for a mentor to be ok with what has been re-submitted, and when the mentor is happy that the email chain has reached a useful conclusion for that task, the mentor can then approve the workshop from his or her dashboard.

In general, we’d suggest trying to avoid as much as possible a re-do of work (though sometimes it’s unavoidable).  Rather what we generally advise in as many cases as possible is for a mentor to express his or her concerns and/or what might be a suggested way to answer a task, and then ask the learner to tell you what they think, and then let the learner move on, knowing that over time the learner will almost always grow in understanding.

Should I correct the learner’s English grammar?

A mentor should not correct their mentee’s grammar, except in the following cases:

If a learner has misspelled a technical term, such as a name or a key concept, it's good to teach him or her to the proper way to do so.  Don’t correct English unless it is crucial to ministry – such as “Pascal Mystery” rather than “Paschal Mystery.” It’s important to maintain an encouraging and pastoral tone when you correct a word or phrase, saying something like: “this phrase is a tricky one to spell, and easy to get wrong, but here's the correct wording...”

What if I cannot understand what the learner has submitted?

It is possible that you will receive work that is poorly written enough that you cannot readily response.  Because of the broad nature of the learner audience, coming from a variety of language learning, economic, and educational backgrounds, it is important first to keep in mind that difficulties in writing do not automatically disqualify a person from ministry.  Many strong and saintly catechists have also been illiterate, or nearly so.  Yet at the same time, you must be able to understand what has been written, to provide feedback about the work.  If you are consistently finding a learner's responses to be too confusing to allow for a clear comment or answer, then seek advice from your diocesan administrator, or by emailing the Catechetical Institute.

Can a person have more than one mentor?

Yes.  The reason is usually because a learner is working on two tracks at once.  Some workshops are cross-listed between tracks, and for such workshops there can be an approval from either of mentor (more or less whoever gets to it first). The reason it works like this is that a learner can enter any of several tracks, and the mentors may need to be different for each track (since for example the person acting as a mentor for a youth ministry track might not be a good mentor for a track that focuses on RCIA), so the mentoring assignment always is track-associated.

What if the learner wants to submit in a language besides English?

If you as the mentor are fluent in the language, including the catechetical vocabulary, then this is fine to accept submissions in a language besides English.  If you are not fluent, or if you are not familiar with the requisite catechetical vocabulary, then this is not possible.  You as the mentor are still able to and encouraged to respond in English.

What if a diocese wants to view the learner’s submission?

Learners and mentors should be aware that anything they write is always viewable by Catechetical Institute staff or by a diocesan administrator.  From the mentor’s point of view, anything at all which is submitted to you is only for your eyes as a mentor on this learning system.  It can’t be shared, spoken about, or discussed with anyone else who does not have administrator access to this system or a critical reason to know.  If you have a question or situation that arises in this regard, please contact the Catechetical Institute or your diocese.

What if I have any concerns about potential child protection reporting issues in a learner's responses?

If you have received a learner's task response that concerns you in this area (such as the learner detailing a youth ministry interaction that raises red flags for you), please feel free to contact the Catechetical Institute or your diocesan administrator to discuss it.  If a genuine concern exists, expect that it may become necessary to report the issue.  Generally, this would involve following the child protection guidelines in force in the diocese in which you reside.

Are mentors paid?

Those mentors who have gone through the Catechetical Institute’s training process and have been accepted to serve those taking our workshops are paid an annual fee based on the number of mentees they assist.  Normally CI mentors are engaged by learners subscribing for $12.99 per month.  This allows CI to pay our mentors.

Mentors working directly for dioceses are normally not paid, since using these workshops in a diocesan setting is most often done by the existing parish catechetical and school leaders serving as mentors for their own people in their own community.  In such situations, mentoring people though these workshops is not really an “extra” role, but simply a means to be more effective and more relational in their existing role of building up and caring for the people they lead.

If a technical problem occurs within a workshop, with my log-in process, my account, or other parts of the site, who do I contact?

For online system glitches and similar issues, please email the Catechetical Institute at CI@franciscan.edu or call 740-283-6754.

If I am interested in mentoring for the Catechetical Institute, or for my diocese, who do I contact?

It is preferable for a person desiring to serve as a mentor to first contact your diocese.  Local mentoring is a better option for formation than at-distance mentoring.  If your diocese partners with the Catechetical Institute, then please contact the diocesan office relevant to your ministry area.  For those seeking to serve the Catechetical Institute directly, please contact us by email: CI@franciscan.edu

What other resources does the Catechetical Institute have to offer dioceses and individuals?

The Catechetical Institute’s website has a section for Resources that contains an immense array of options to explore for every level of Catholic ministry formation: video, audio, articles, books, tutorials, and PDFs.  All these resources are arranged in a highly user-friendly searchable format, so that anyone from a busy monsignor to a busy mother can locate useful things.  These resources are offer to anyone, not just those registered to use our workshops.

Beyond the workshops offered by the Catechetical Institute’s, what other formation does Franciscan University offer?

Whether you are right out of high school, right in the middle of your life, or right about ready to try a new direction or a next step, Franciscan University has programs that meet you where God has you.  Studying theology at Franciscan University means you combine learning and love: You’ll know more about the faith and how to live it. Your witness is the best instruction in the faith you can give the world, which is why Franciscan has more theology majors than any other Catholic school in America and why parishes and dioceses that hire Franciscan University graduates are confident they are hiring men and women who know their faith, love their faith, and are able to pass that knowledge and love on to others.  First in the country to take the Oath of Fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium in 1989, and internationally known for excellence, the University’s faculty is renowned for the faithfulness of our teaching and the quality of our preparation of graduates to serve the Church.  The guiding spirit of our programs is dynamic orthodoxy.  That means we teach from the heart of the Catholic Church, passing on the unchanging truths of the faith in all their eternal glory with passionate fidelity.  Franciscan offers online and on-ground associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree in theology and catechetics.  For more information: https://spt.franciscan.edu/department-of-theology

Questions related to dioceses partnering with us

In addition to the questions and answers below, please note that posted at the top of this page is a link to a collection of brief video tutorials and a set of PDFs to assist you with various needs.  Please always feel free to reach out to us at CI@franciscan.edu or 740-283-6754.

What is involved in becoming a diocesan partner with Franciscan’s Catechetical Institute?

For a diocese that elects to enter into a partnership with the Catechetical Institute, a $300 per parish (or local parochial institution) yearly subscription will allow all catechists, teachers, catechetical leaders, ministry team members, and parents in that parish or school to be formed.  We offer substantial discounts to dioceses that opt to put all of their parishes and schools on www.FranciscanAtHome.com.  Once a parish or school signs up, individuals can take many or just a few specific workshops.  There is no other cost to a diocese, other than whatever ways a bishop would like Franciscan University to assist in the training of a cadre of local mentors.  This partnership with the Catechetical Institute is arranged at the level of the diocesan ordinary and includes the following elements:

  • All Catechetical Institute workshops will be made available to any learner associated with a subscribing parish or school. 
  • A diocese decides which of our workshops it considers relevant to certification or continuing formation for various ministries; our online system then allows a diocesan official to self-select sets of workshops, designing custom tracks tailored to that diocese’s needs. 
  • Mentors for courses are chosen by the diocese and are normally the existing body of catechetical and school leaders in that diocese. 
  • Relevant workshops are counted as meeting diocesan continuing education requirements for parochial school teachers. 
  • Online access to The Catechetical Review (including all back issues) is included for all mentored learners. 

What is different about the Catechetical Institute’s approach to online learning? 

Most diocesan officials have experience with the fact that some forms of online training fail to engage, inspire, or excite learners. Means of assessing learners’ success in such courses can lack depth, ignore individual learning styles, or test only cognitive understanding, rather than ministerial ability and real-world professional growth. Additionally, these kinds of online formats often lack human connection, mentorship, or any useful dialogical exchange beyond a chat room or generic discussion board. Recognizing these challenges, Franciscan University’s Catechetical Institute primarily uses a collaborative learning methodology. This approaches formation via a custom-designed online learning management system (LMS) and includes elements uncharacteristic of other online training: a mentoring focus; a priority on the spiritual formation of learners; formation that intentionally builds relationships in a learner’s own community; mature, robust, and engaging assessment methods; and full integration of catechesis with evangelization and liturgical formation. 

What does the Catechetical Institute mean when it says it offers formation that complements and enriches, rather than replaces, local catechetical efforts? 

The Catechetical Institute works to form those who form others, not replace them with distant experts or DVDs. Franciscan University is guided by a vision that sees catechetical formation as an act of trust in people. We seek to address various aspects of what best fosters local competency, allowing the imminent hospitality of Christ to enliven catechesis with a spirit of human warmth and welcome. This means avoiding replacing those who are in the field and able to be in relationship with and disciple others. And it means not replacing those who are doing catechist training in the diocese.

Many dioceses certify catechists by unpacking the four pillars of the Catechism, usually with additional courses on topics such as methodology or Scripture. The Institute’s offerings are not intended to replace such diocesan courses, but rather to complement them as required elements or optional enrichment or as ongoing formation post-certification. Those working on certification can do so in whatever time frame is convenient or in accord with diocesan expectations for completion. The normal expectation for learners is the completion annually of about 12 workshops that each have well-designed and engaging assessments built in. This asks a learner to commit to about three to four hours of study per month. Learners can progress faster if desired. This “normal” progression can be modified as desired by a diocese. For example, if a diocese wished to include only certain Catechetical Institute workshops in its own certification process, the Institute is pleased to accommodate this. 

How does your collection of workshops differ from what is available elsewhere? 

A Catholic “catechetical” institute worthy of the name must define “catechist” as widely as the Church does. Therefore, we not only seek to serve those in lay ecclesial ministry, but also attend to the formation needs of the two most critical catechists in every parish — priests and parents. Beyond this, the great richness and diversity of formation workshops found in each of our ministry tracks flow from University-level resources: access to the teaching expertise found within multiple disciplines complementary to theology and catechetics (such as counseling, education, psychology, life sciences, communication arts, political science, fine arts, etc.), and to Franciscan’s ability to draw in workshop presenters from a broad array of apostolates and locations — wherever there is outstanding work being done that can be shared with others to build up the Church. Going a step further, our desire is not only to assist dioceses and individuals in the already-defined areas of ministry training, but also to offer to the Church formation workshops and resources in arenas less recognized as fundamental but no less critical to successfully evangelizing and discipling souls: basic evangelization skills, mentoring, spiritual guidance, counseling, spiritual combat, deliverance, healing, vocational discernment, team building, speaking skills, and more. Workshops on these and many other topics are offered by the Institute, designed not for niche professionals in each of these fields, but for parents, catechists, school teachers, parish clergy — the people who first encounter souls who need understanding and gentle ministers, good advice, good listeners, and leaders who can authentically accompany others on the spiritual journey.

How does the Catechetical Institute address the issue of affordability for diocese, parishes, and individual learners? 

Franciscan University’s priority in founding the Catechetical Institute is to serve the Church, specifically to serve diocesan bishops. By placing the University on a missionary footing, our leadership discerned the need to offer this service in a distinctly Franciscan way. In creating and making available what we plan will eventually be many hundreds of field-level formation workshops, this Franciscan distinctive shows most clearly in the call to generosity. Our collection of workshops and related resources are being priced at a level to ensure that any diocese, any parish, and any individual learner will not face a burdensome financial barrier to access this formation. Our aim is to offer the very best we can conceive, design, and produce for all members of Christ’s Church who desire what we have created. 

There are two ways for a diocese to have its parishes and schools gain access:

  • The more expensive way for a diocese to move forward is for each parish or school to subscribe individually for $300 annually (thereby allowing as many people as desired to gain access under that parish or school for free). Schools directly and solely operated by a single parish are included under that parish’s annual subscription.  Regional schools (elementary or high school) would gain access to FranciscanAtHome.com with their own $300 annual subscriptions.
  • The less expensive way for a diocese to move forward is to pay a flat fee for all parishes and schools.  The amount of this fee varies according to the country a diocese is in, and in almost all cases equates to less than the $300 per institution cost. For dioceses outside the U.S. this is ordinarily substantially less.  Please contact us to inquire what the flat fee is for your region. With this, all individuals in the entire diocese gain free access.

A diocese is free to pay in whatever way it desires. Some dioceses fund this via a grant, or cover the cost from various diocesan budgets among offices that will use the workshops, or share the cost with parishes or schools in whole or in part, or even have some parishioners cover the cost, since it is so low.  Pricing will always be in the context of our key principles, including affordability.  Payment is normally made through per location, and can be executed by credit card or by invoice followed by a mailed check.

Onboarding all parishes and schools at one time has substantial benefits to both members of the partnership:

  • For a diocese, it allows unified action at one point in time to onboard any people needing to participate in a certification process or ongoing formation requirements, as well as any others desiring to benefit from the formation.  If CI’s workshops are integrated into diocesan certification and ongoing formation structures, this implies the need for all parishes and schools to be onboarded if training is to be available diocese-wide.
  • For a diocese, it allows diocesan officials charged with ministerial training and formation to focus on that work rather than spending time persuading (with various degrees of effectiveness) parishes and schools to onboard or renew their subscriptions.
  • For Franciscan University, it avoids the need to administratively track many subscriptions made throughout the year within the same diocese, and to contact individual parishes and schools for renewal reminders.
  • For both parties, the annual resubscription effort is greatly simplified if centrally orchestrated through the diocese, rather than left to individual parishes and schools, and subject to all the complicating shifts in local leadership that will delay resubscriptions and cause loss of continuity for those using FranciscanAtHome.com.

How much does it cost for those taking the workshops? 

For a diocese that elects to enter into a partnership with the Catechetical Institute, a yearly subscription of $300 per parish or school will allow all catechists, teachers, catechetical leaders, ministry team members, and parents to be formed in a given setting. Once such a partnership exists, individuals can take many or just a few specific workshops at no additional cost. Outside of a diocesan relationship, individual learners may enroll via an inexpensive subscription (between $4.99 and $12.99 per month), and take any workshops accompanied by a mentor assigned by Franciscan University. We offer substantial discounts to dioceses that opt to put all of their parishes and schools on www.FranciscanAtHome.com.

Is the Catechetical Institute willing to accommodate exceptions or modifications to the per-parish / per-school subscriptions?

The Catechetical Institute sees its mission as being at the service of bishops’ needs.  We are committed to flexibility and will work with individual diocesan officials to recognize and fully accommodate cluster parish situations, missionary circumstances, and geographical challenges.

Which workshop collections (tracks) are currently in development by the Catechetical Institute?

With over 100 workshops in multiple ministry areas available on the system already, we are continuously releasing new workshops each month. We are currently releasing about 3-6 new workshops every month.  These workshops make use of the experience and skills of dozens of outstanding presenters from all over the United States and several other countries, and seek to provide the best training available in each ministry area.

Tracks open on our system now:

Catechist Track
Four Pillar of the Catechism Track
Parish Catechetical Leader Track
RCIA Track Formation
Youth Ministry Track
Catholic Schools Track
Ministry of Parenting Track
Hispanic Faith and Family Track
Pastoral Accompaniment Track
First Proclamation and Evangelization Track

Tracks coming in future months and years:

Young Adults Track (Release Date: 2021)
Diocesan Officials Track (Release Date: 2022)
Culture of Life Track (Release Date: 2022)
Priestly Renewal Track (Release Date: 2023)
African American Faith and Family Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Special Needs Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Music Ministry Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Sports Ministry Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Franciscan Spirituality Track (Release Date: To be announced)

Are there any resources available in Spanish?

The Catechetical Institute at Franciscan is building into our set of online workshop offerings a Hispanic ministry focus.  This collection is called the Hispanic Faith and Family Track.  In the many dioceses with which we are now in communication, the demand is obvious.  This track has workshops filmed in Spanish, so that the material and teaching is firstly in Spanish, and inculturated already, as well as workshops dubbed in Spanish from among our most popular English-language topics.

Do the workshops accommodate those with hearing difficultly?

Each workshop video segment is posted with closed captions, as well as the ability to print out a full transcript. Workshops all have a downloadable handout that provides an outline of the teaching, as well as relevant quotations and resource recommendations.

How are the workshops designed? 

The Catechetical Institute uses the term “tracks” to describe areas of ministry focus. Within each track are dozens of one-hour workshops that are divided into “core” areas and “electives.”  Each workshop has been professionally filmed with a live audience and three cameras.  Art, innovative media, music, and other creative elements have been extensively incorporated.  All source material is provided in a highly user-friendly manner, designed for those not used to online learning platforms.  Each one-hour workshop is broken up into 10-15 minute segments, to make for ease of viewing.  After each segment, a learner is asked to complete a task that is designed to be field-applicable, real-world, and spiritually formative. Normally it takes a learner between 2-4 hours to do the various tasks in a given workshop, often over a period of days or weeks, depending on that person’s preferred pace.

When a learner is being mentored through a track, they will have two options once they complete a given task. The learner can simply hit the “save” button or they can select the option to “save and submit to mentor.”  When either of these options is chosen, the learner will see a box pop up that offers the thoughts of the Franciscan catechetics faculty on that task.  These pop-up answers and advice are pre-written into the learning platform and allow learners to receive immediate feedback and additional resources for the task they have just completed.  Additionally, when a learner chooses the option to save their work and submit it to their mentor, the task answer is sent to an assigned mentor via email, seamlessly connected by the learning platform.  We call this method double mentoring. Taken together, this approach ensures a higher level of quality control and personal attention than either one can provide alone.

What does the Catechetical Institute mean by a mentoring approach?

Formation in the faith is always first and foremost God’s attentive presence to the individual.  From this principle arises the vital importance of mentorship, and for that guidance to be proximal and personal: a mentoring accompaniment.  The overarching priority of the Catechetical Institute is to commit the effort necessary to form those who form others, rather than replace them with distant experts or high production value video and audio resources. Evangelization and catechesis can thus remain appropriately situated with those who can be in authentic ministerial relationships in the field.  To accomplish this, all the online workshops designed by CI critically rely upon mentorship.  By doing this, we seek to encourage dioceses in the direction of mentored formation and person-to-person engagement.

While this means greater time committed by both learners and mentors, there are clear advantages: for learners, that they become better ministers, with better results than less-attentive formation methods could ever achieve, and that they are enabled to take more creative ownership of their call to serve and form souls.  For mentors and diocesan officials, these workshops help them to grow substantially in their own formation skills and ministerial competence, to discover an effective mechanism for accountability and excellence, and to find themselves ever more deeply in relationships with those they are called to lead and form.

Mentors have the privilege of walking with each learner, each a unique reflection of God, each called by Him to a distinctive mission for building up his Kingdom. “Christ provides for our growth: to make us grow toward him, our head, he provides in his Body, the Church, the gifts and assistance by which we help one another along the way of salvation” (CCC 794). 

What is the normal time commitment for those being mentored through the Catechetical Institute’s workshops?

Each individual workshop is designed to be completed over the course of one month, though some learners choose to complete this in a shorter time period and others choose to take more time. The workshop itself has one hour’s worth of video content, divided into segments by engaging assessments which can vary in their time commitment (from simply writing “Complete” to prayerfully describing how you intend to apply what you have learned in your own life and ministry).  This would ask a learner to commit to about three to four hours of study per month.  Learners can progress faster or slower if desired, unless the diocese has determined a pace. On average, each course of study within a track consists of 12 months (workshops) worth of work.

What is the normal time commitment for mentors working with those taking the Catechetical Institute’s workshops?

This will vary over time, but an estimate would be about an hour each month per person being mentored.  So, if a mentor has twelve learners, for example, that would translate to about twelve hours a month.

For a catechetical leader mentoring people in his or her own parish or school, this might be a very different estimate, since mentoring would often occur in a group setting rather than always one-on-one, and some individuals may need little personal time and others (such as new teachers) may receive more attention.  Generally, for those mentoring within their own parish or school community, we suggest doing so in whatever way is most natural for them to be in relationships with the people they lead, and most suits their available time and desire to cultivate certain people.

Many local mentors in these circumstances do not answer workshops task-for-task online, but instead talk with people more directly, meet as needed in person or chat on the phone, and sometimes choose to mentor a group rather than single individuals (such as an RCIA team going through workshops together, or a groups of school teachers, etc.).  When we assist dioceses in training mentors (a group normally consisting of the existing body of catechetical and school leaders in that diocese) we help them see how to make the mentoring role work with their goals for building up their people, and not to be a burden or an “extra” role, but instead a deeply helpful means to grow the people they lead towards excellence in ministry.

Are there ways to use the Catechetical Institute’s workshops prior to having in-diocese mentors?

Although normally a diocese considers the existing body of catechetical and school leaders as the natural mentors, sometimes this is not immediately possible.  For dioceses that would like to use our workshops, but do not yet have a functional core of mentors, we suggest several options for moving forward:

  1. Allow your learners to sit in our "Enrichment" category until the situation changes ($300 per parish would allow an unlimited number of people to exist in this status).
  2. Allow your learners (or some of them) to temporarily sign up for our $12.99 subscription package, with income accruing to CI (this would replace the $300 per parish fee until a switch to diocesan mentorship occurs).
  3. Select a certain set of key pastors/parishes to sign up for $300 and focus on training only those locations (a diocese could cover the cost of that directly, or assess those parishes for the fee, or seek outside funding to cover some or all of the cost).
  4. Discuss with the Catechetical Institute a case-by-case mitigation of the per parish fee based on allowing cluster parishes to be counted together, mission parishes to not be counted, or communities smaller than 50-75 families to be free.
  5. Select only a few mentors for the diocese (perhaps one or two per deanery), and use the Institute’s workshops in a cohort format, allowing those mentors to gather learners for study days, mentor them together, and move together at the same pace.

What ways can a diocese receive assistance from the Catechetical Institute in developing mentoring?

Diocese are welcome to use our training materials for mentors at no charge, including our intake and interview forms, reading handouts, follow-up workshops, and training outlines.  As well, we are able to come to your diocese for a strategy day or schedule a video conference to plan for an effective use of our workshops, to discuss diocesan resources, certification plans, and adult formation goals, and means to develop strong mentoring ministries.  We are also able to come to your diocese for a CI Formation Day structured in a similar way to how we train our own mentors, but tailored to your circumstances, desires for follow-up formation, and diocesan priorities for ministry development.

Are there any ways which the Catechetical Institute helps train or assist mentors?

We offer CI Formation Days many times a year, usually at the request of partner dioceses.  Though we accommodate to a diocese’s available timeframe, this on-site training is normally a full day in length, beginning at breakfast and ending prior to dinner.  This kind of event is usually done as an in-service offering targeting all faith formation leaders and catechetical leaders in the diocese. It creates substantial positive momentum, generates many excellent questions from which the whole group benefits, and also serves to give a diocese a shot in the arm on person-to-person discipleship.  This day is excellent for anyone wishing to understand how to mentor well or how to encourage others to do so.

We also have a set of outstanding workshops on FranciscanAtHome.com that will greatly help any mentor grow in his or her pastoral accompaniment skills:

  • The Vocation of the Catechist
  • Catechetical Mentorship
  • Being Guided and Guiding Souls
  • Personal Vocation and the Mentoring Relationship
  • Building the Mentoring Relationship: Asking Good Questions
  • Building the Mentoring Relationship: Empathic Listening
  • Mentoring in Ministry

These workshops are available for free to any mentor on the system.  Some dioceses require them, some simply recommend or encourage them.

How many learners can one individual mentor?

Generally, we have found that for someone in full-time ministry (such as diocesan official, parish catechetical leader, youth minister, or school principal), it is completely doable to mentor between 10-40 people.  This is especially the case if the mentor is serving people only within his or her own parish or school community, since the mentoring role is integrated with the normal duty of cultivating and caring for those he or she is already seeking to lead towards greater excellence in ministry.

Once learners gain access to the system through their parish or school, how does the diocese assign mentors to them?

It’s important to note that learners cannot request a mentor until a diocesan, parish, or school leader gives them that ability – on your dashboard, if you look at list of learners under any parish, you’ll see that learners signed up are listed as a “no” to the right of their names for the two columns “Diocesan mentor?” and “Can request a mentor?”.  Toggling the “Can request a mentor?” to “yes” allows that learner to see the button that enables them to request a mentor from the diocese or parish.  The reason it is built this way, and that the system defaults to a “no” is that the diocese or parish can then control how many people can request a mentor, assuming that the capacity to mentor everyone is not necessarily the case right away.

The way that a learner can request a mentor:  Once a person has an account, for a leader to be able to assign a mentor, the learner needs to decide to enter a track and start that track (hitting the button that says “Start this track and request a mentor from the Diocese of -----.”).  Then you will see that person’s name come up on your dashboard as a person requesting a mentor be assigned.  Then you can assign whoever you’d like from your list of mentors (which appears as a drop-down where you’d assign them on your dashboard).  Simply select the name of the mentor you want to assign to that learner, and then hit the “Assign” button (remember, this drop down of mentors and the button to assign them don’t appear on your dashboard until an actual person requests a mentor).

How does a learner earn a certificate for a track or a part of a track?

For earning certificates for a given track, the workshops that need to be completed are listed online as the structure of that track, readily viewable, often arranged in one or more columns.  Normally, a diocese or an independent institution (usually apostolates or religious orders) provides its own mentors and its own certification approval.  FranciscanAtHome.com is capable of generating custom certificates with a diocese’s or independent institution’s logo and signatures.

If a learner is seeking a certificate from Franciscan University for a given track, that person needs to go through the $12.99 per month individual subscriptions (or come to the annual summer St. John Conference Bosco) and then we’ll assign a CI-trained mentor, which is the requisite for an FUS certificate.  Normally, a learner can receive a certificate for each column of workshops done in a track, under a mentor’s guidance, and having that mentor approve each workshop once all tasks are completed.

What if a diocese wants to view the learner’s submission?

Learners and mentors should be aware that anything they write is always potentially viewable by Catechetical Institute staff or by a diocesan administrator should the need arise.  From a mentor point of view, anything at all which is submitted by learners is only for their eyes as mentors on this learning system.  It can’t be shared, spoken about, or discussed with anyone else who does not have administrator access to this system or a critical reason to know.  Mentors that have a question or situation that arises in this regard should be directed to contact either the Catechetical Institute or the diocesan office.

What criteria does the Catechetical Institute suggest using to recruit diocesan mentors?

Similar to our own criteria, we would suggest that a potential mentor has at least three to five years of field experience; has achieved catechist certification for your diocese; has or is willing to go through a mentor training process defined by the diocese; and has been vetted in some way by your diocese to get a sense of that person's basic fidelity to the Church, faith life, and general ministerial prudence.

Mentors serving directly for dioceses are normally the existing parish catechetical and school leaders serving as mentors for their own people in their own community.  In such situations, mentoring people though these workshops is not really an “extra” role, but simply a means to be more effective and more relational in their existing role of building up and caring for the people they lead.

Are mentors paid?

Those mentors who have gone through the Catechetical Institute’s training process and have been accepted to serve those taking our workshops are paid a quarterly fee based on the number of mentees they assist.  Normally CI mentors are engaged by learners subscribing for $12.99 per month.  This allows CI to pay our mentors.

Mentors working directly for dioceses are normally not paid, since using these workshops in a diocesan setting is most often done by the existing parish catechetical and school leaders serving as mentors for their own people in their own community.  In such situations, mentoring people though these workshops is not really an “extra” role, but simply a means to be more effective and more relational in their existing role of building up and caring for the people they lead.

What does the Catechetical Institute suggest regarding ways to remunerate diocesan mentors?

A diocese may want a path forward to paying their mentors – a major recruiting incentive. We can offer a diocese use of our individual subscription system, with the income streams going to the diocese (or parish) and diocesan mentors.

  1. The Catechetical Institute would still charge $300 per parish, which would allow anyone in the parish to view and benefit from the workshops.
  2. For a learner that wants to be mentored, the diocese can use our subscription system to set a per-person fee (for example, $10 per month). This fee could be paid by the diocese, by the parish, or by the individual (or some division of those costs).
  3. A significant percentage of this fee would go to that person’s mentor. For example, the Institute pays mentors $100 annually for each learner. Normally, mentors will be asked to take on at least 10 and at most 40 learners at a time, thereby allowing mentors to earn at least $1,000 annually, and perhaps as much as $4,000.
  4. A diocese could set this per-person subscription fee lower or higher, depending on how much mentors are paid and how much a diocese wishes to take in of that amount (the Institute disburses two-thirds to our mentors). With a certain amount going back to the parish or diocese, this creates an incentive to recruit more learners.

What data is recorded by the online system?

Aside from the information collected from each user during registration, the system tracks the pace of each learner through a workshop, the online interactions with a mentor, the degree to which each video segment was viewed by a learner, the evaluation form submitted at the end of each workshop, the number of workshops completed, any documents submitted by the learner, any certificates earned by the learner, and the status and point of renewal of each individual and each institution (parish or school).

Can officials from a diocese record workshops or segments and have them posted on the Catechetical Institute’s online system?

The Institute welcomes diocesan officials to do so and very much encourages this.  We have filmed a number of diocesan officials doing certain core and elective workshops for our existing tracks, as well as for diocese-specific applications (such as introductory segments for a course of study or orientation to certain subjects that a diocese is prioritizing).  On a case-by-case basis we can consider posting video produced in-diocese for specific applications.

What is the mission of the Catechetical Institute’s magazine, The Catechetical Review?

When your parishes or schools sign up under the Catechetical Institute, they will receive a hard copy of The Catechetical Review, and the learners who register under their parish or school’s subscription will be able to access the articles from the magazine online.  The Catechetical Review is an international quarterly catechetical journal primarily written for Directors of Religious Education, catechetical leaders, religious educators, youth ministers, RCIA coordinators, and anyone involved in faith formation.  Its contributors, who aim to help in the formation of all those in a position to hand on the faith, come from academic catechetics faculties and “from the field.”  Subscribers receive: four beautiful full-color issues per year; online access to downloadable, reproducible articles; online Spanish translation of select printable articles; online access to projectable art for our Inspired through Art series, which may be used to teach the faith using art, or as a back drop for reflective prayer.  Parishes and schools may assign multiple online users accounts for their catechists and teachers with a paid subscription.  For more information: https://review.catechetics.com

What other resources does the Catechetical Institute have to offer dioceses and individuals?

The Catechetical Institute’s website has a section for Resources that contains an immense array of options to explore for every level of Catholic ministry formation: video, audio, articles, books, tutorials, and PDFs.  All these resources are arranged in a highly user-friendly searchable format, so that anyone from a busy monsignor to a busy mother can locate useful things.  These resources are offer to anyone, not just those registered to use our workshops.

Beyond the workshops offered by the Catechetical Institute’s, what other formation does Franciscan University offer?

Whether you are right out of high school, right in the middle of your life, or right about ready to try a new direction or a next step, Franciscan University has programs that meet you where God has you.  Studying theology at Franciscan University means you combine learning and love: You’ll know more about the faith and how to live it. Your witness is the best instruction in the faith you can give the world, which is why Franciscan has more theology majors than any other Catholic school in America and why parishes and dioceses that hire Franciscan University graduates are confident they are hiring men and women who know their faith, love their faith, and are able to pass that knowledge and love on to others.  First in the country to take the Oath of Fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium in 1989, and internationally known for excellence, the University’s faculty is renowned for the faithfulness of our teaching and the quality of our preparation of graduates to serve the Church.  The guiding spirit of our programs is dynamic orthodoxy.  That means we teach from the heart of the Catholic Church, passing on the unchanging truths of the faith in all their eternal glory with passionate fidelity.  Franciscan offers online and on-ground associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree in theology and catechetics.  For more information: https://spt.franciscan.edu/department-of-theology

Questions related to our conferences and events

In addition to the questions and answers below, please note that posted at the top of this page is a link to a collection of brief video tutorials and a set of PDFs to assist you with various needs.  Please always feel free to reach out to us at CI@franciscan.edu or 740-283-6754.

What is the purpose of the annual St. John Bosco Conference for Evangelization and Catechesis?

The annual St. John Bosco Conference for Evangelization and Catechesis at Franciscan University is our premier event, bringing catechetical experts from all over to share their expertise through general sessions and specialized tracks.  Founded over 25 years ago, this amazing late July gathering has evolved to serve all aspects of the evangelizing and catechizing mission of the Church, with an annual array of relevant, inspiring, and practical workshops on parenting and priestly excellence, children, youth, and adult ministry, multicultural, ecumenical, and special needs service, and a host of tracks offering certification for school teachers and parish catechists, campus and youth ministers, catechetical leaders, RCIA teams, and much more.  It is a place for people to share their favorite resources, discuss particular challenges facing their ministry, learn from and be mentored by some of the finest professionals in the field, and open themselves to the Holy Spirit through confession, adoration, and Mass.  Many participants think of the conference as an annual recharge of their spiritual batteries, and a true retreat for the soul.  Come to the St. John Bosco Conference and be renewed in your hope as you spend four days being blessed by an amazing ministry team, dynamic presenters, and fellowship with those that share your passion for Christ and the Church!  For more information:  https://steubenvilleconferences.com

Does the Catechetical Institute host other kinds of events?

Each year we hold many mentor training events and CI Formation Days that are typically one day (or part of a day) in length.  These are normally located in and hosted by dioceses, but are occasionally done as video conferences or webinars (see an event schedule here: https://franciscanathome.com/about).  We welcome invitations to conduct trainings in any location.  We also occasionally hold academically-oriented conferences on aspects of evangelization and catechetics, such as the 2017 Speaking the Truth in Love Conference, which honored the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  We also host on-campus academic conferences on catechetical topics and send speakers all over the world.

What other conferences does Franciscan University offer?

For the past 40 years, high school youth from across the United States have had their faith awakened and their hearts set on a fire through a personal encounter with Jesus at a Steubenville Conference. Each summer, well over 50,000 teens and their leaders become part of this movement of grace at one of Franciscan University’s 25 conferences in many cities across the nation.

Franciscan University’s Encounter conferences seek to provide a place where Catholic young adults can come and have their faith strengthened and be encouraged and equipped to live as disciples. These impactful events feature talks that address head-on the challenges of the young adult world.  Encounter creates an environment where participants not only encounter Jesus in the sacraments and in prayer but in one another in community.

Franciscan University offers five unique conference experiences for adults on our campus. Every summer thousands of Catholics make the pilgrimage to our campus to have their faith renewed, their spirits refreshed, and to be equipped to not only live the faith but to share it with others. Whether you are looking for apologetics, Scripture study, catechetics, or spiritual renewal, Franciscan University has a conference that will meet your needs.

Which workshop collections (tracks) are currently in development by the Catechetical Institute?

With over 100 workshops in multiple ministry areas available on www.FranciscanAtHome.com already, we are continuously releasing new workshops each month. We are currently releasing about 3-6 new workshops every month.  These workshops make use of the experience and skills of dozens of outstanding presenters from all over the United States and several other countries, and seek to provide the best training available in each ministry area.

Tracks open on our system now:

Catechist Track
Four Pillar of the Catechism Track
Parish Catechetical Leader Track
RCIA Track Formation
Youth Ministry Track
Catholic Schools Track
Ministry of Parenting Track
Hispanic Faith and Family Track
Pastoral Accompaniment Track
First Proclamation and Evangelization Track

Tracks coming in future months and years:

Young Adults Track (Release Date: 2021)
Diocesan Officials Track (Release Date: 2022)
Culture of Life Track (Release Date: 2022)
Priestly Renewal Track (Release Date: 2023)
African American Faith and Family Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Special Needs Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Music Ministry Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Sports Ministry Track (Release Date: To be announced)
Franciscan Spirituality Track (Release Date: To be announced)

What other resources does the Catechetical Institute have to offer dioceses and individuals?

The Catechetical Institute’s website has a section for Resources (https://franciscanathome.com/resources) that contains an immense array of options to explore for every level of Catholic ministry formation: video, audio, articles, books, tutorials, and PDFs.  All these resources are arranged in a highly user-friendly searchable format, so that anyone from a busy monsignor to a busy mother can locate useful things.

What is the mission of the Catechetical Institute’s magazine, The Catechetical Review?

The Catechetical Review is an international quarterly catechetical journal primarily written for Directors of Religious Education, catechetical leaders, religious educators, youth ministers, RCIA coordinators, and anyone involved in faith formation.  Its contributors, who aim to help in the formation of all those in a position to hand on the faith, come from academic catechetics faculties and “from the field.”  Subscribers receive: four beautiful full-color issues per year; online access to downloadable, reproducible articles; online Spanish translation of select printable articles; online access to projectable art for our Inspired through Art series, which may be used to teach the faith using art, or as a backdrop for reflective prayer.  Parishes and schools may assign multiple online users accounts for their catechists and teachers with a paid subscription.  For more information: https://review.catechetics.com

Beyond the workshops offered by the Catechetical Institute, what other formation does Franciscan University offer?

Whether you are right out of high school, right in the middle of your life, or right about ready to try a new direction or a next step, Franciscan University has programs that meet you where God has you (https://online.franciscan.edu).  Studying theology at Franciscan University means you combine learning and love: You’ll know more about the faith and how to live it. Your witness is the best instruction in the faith you can give the world, which is why Franciscan has more theology majors than any other Catholic school in America and why parishes and dioceses that hire Franciscan University graduates are confident they are hiring men and women who know their faith, love their faith, and are able to pass that knowledge and love on to others.  First in the country to take the Oath of Fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium in 1989, and internationally known for excellence, the University’s faculty is renowned for the faithfulness of our teaching and the quality of our preparation of graduates to serve the Church.  The guiding spirit of our programs is dynamic orthodoxy.  That means we teach from the heart of the Catholic Church, passing on the unchanging truths of the faith in all their eternal glory with passionate fidelity.  Franciscan offers online and on-ground associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree in theology and catechetics.  For more information on theology and catechetics programs: https://spt.franciscan.edu/department-of-theology

What does the University offer for homeschoolers?

The rapid growth of homeschooling in the United States is well documented.  About 20% of Franciscan’s current student body was homeschooled at some level prior to matriculation.  In the spirit of the new evangelization and in the light of Pope John Paul II’s teaching on the domestic church, Franciscan has partnered with Homeschool Connections to provide flexible, faithful, and highly affordable K-12 online classes.  Courses are available for all subjects from math to science, from literature to writing, from theology to philosophy, and so much more.  This program also provides services to help homeschooling parents fulfill their God-given vocation, including free webinars, e-books, and online workshops.  Franciscan University and Homeschool Connections are committed to making available the best Catholic instructors at the most affordable price for the homeschool family budget, aimed at an educational formation that explicitly serves the new evangelization.  For more information. K-12 Homeschool Connections – www.homeschoolconnectionsonline.com or Franciscan Fast Track – https://online.franciscan.edu/programs/fast-track-dual-enrollment

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