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Diocese of Joliet

Welcome to the Catechetical Institute landing page for the Diocese of Joliet!

Our unique partnership with Franciscan University of Steubenville was created to provide for the many, diverse needs for catechetical formation among those who live, serve, and worship in the Diocese of Joliet. Here you will find learning tracks tailored to the needs of our diocese, and we plan to add more over time. The video workshops that make up each track are an invitation to know the Lord more deeply through engaging content and the accompaniment of others who share in the same desire to love and follow Him. The gift we have at our disposal is not so much a style as an approach, and not so much a program as a person: Jesus Christ!

For those considering or undergoing diaconal formation or for deacons pursuing post ordination formation, please visit the diaconal formation landing page here.

 

¡Bienvenido a la página de inicio del Instituto Catequético de la Diócesis de Joliet!

Nuestra asociación única con la Universidad Franciscana de Steubenville, IL, se creó para satisfacer las varias y diversas necesidades de formación catequética entre quienes viven, sirven y adoran en la Diócesis de Joliet. Aquí encontrará segmentos de aprendizaje adaptados a las necesidades de nuestra diócesis, y planeamos agregar más con el tiempo. Los talleres en video que componen cada segmento son una invitación a conocer más profundamente al Señor a través de contenidos maravillosos y el acompañamiento de otros que comparten el mismo deseo de amarlo y seguirlo. El don que tenemos a nuestra disposición no es tanto un estilo, como un enfoque, y no tanto de un programa, como una persona: ¡Jesucristo!

Para aquellos que están considerando o en proceso de formación diaconal o para los diáconos que buscan una formación posterior a la ordenación, visite la página de inicio de formación diaconal aquí

Concentraciones Ministeriales

Foundations for Professional and Volunteer Ministry
Foundations for Professional and Volunteer Ministry

He is the Alpha and the Omega.  He is in all, before all, through all.  The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul, “the mystery of Christ.” (CT 5)  Therefore everyone who teaches the Catholic faith must be immersed in this mystery.  Using Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as recent ecclesial documents, this workshop will present the key doctrines that must be taught concerning Jesus Christ.  By examining Jesus’ actions in Scripture, His relationships, and His ways of teaching, we will help catechists unlock the mysteries of Christ, His Incarnation, Redemption, and Second Coming.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

 

When speaking to the crowds at World Youth Day in 2000, St. John Paul II said, “It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness . . . It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives . . .” (Vigil of Prayer for the 15th World Youth Day, August 19, 2000). It is Jesus Who calls us to do something great with our lives by calling us to be His disciples. He invites us to follow Him, even though being a disciple can be challenging at times, and He provides the grace that we need in order to persevere and remain faithful. It is when we know Him as He truly is that we can become His disciples, invite others to discipleship, and live the unsurpassable joy of the Christian life. This workshop seeks to help us come to know the Person of Jesus as our one essential need, and thus, it will benefit everyone, no matter where we are at on our faith journey.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

In his homily at the Jubilee of the Disabled, St. John Paul II beautifully stated: “How eloquent are your words for us . . . Lord of life and hope! Every human limitation is ransomed and redeemed in you. Thanks to you, disability is not the last word on life. Love is the last word; it is your love that gives meaning to life” (December 3, 2020). We also heard from St. John Paul II that “. . . the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right” that needs to be available to all people, and this includes persons with disabilities (Apostolic Exhortation “On Catechesis in Our Time,” Catechesi tradendae 14). This workshop will introduce the catechist to the Church’s teaching concerning catechesis for persons who have physical or developmental disabilities, and include practical assistance for catechists working with various special needs situations. This workshop will also help raise awareness among those involved in parish work of the many resources and sources of aid that exist to serve children and adults with these conditions.

Electives (by area and interest)
All Parish Ministries

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

What does it mean to serve in a diverse parish? Cultural diversity has always been at the heart of the Church: “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). This workshop explores how to navigate the intercultural reality that many parish programs experience, so that we can effectively bring the love of Christ to each person and help all within the community feel a part of the Body of Christ. In doing so, fostering a respect for the dignity of each person, honoring the pivotal importance of family culture, and making the effort to grow in intercultural competence become key highlights in any successful ministry approach.

In Religious Education

While “Parish Catechetical Leader” can mean virtually anything in a given parish, there are  specific skills that are particularly best suited for the people who serve in these eclectic positions. This workshop discusses those skills and traits in detail and examines some of the major themes, underlying principles and recurring patterns found in the lives of successful leaders who serve under pastors. May we be inspired to seek the harder road in the privileged vocation of leadership in God’s Church, so that He may be glorified and many souls lifted up. As St. Catherine of Siena in the voice of our Lord said: “I have set you as workers in your own and your neighbor’s souls, and in the mystic Body of holy Church.  Take your tears and your sweat, drawn from the fountain of My Divine love, and with them wash the face of My spouse the Church. I promise you, that by this means, her beauty will be restored to her.”

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Our mission in all of our religious education endeavors within the parish is to proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and to lead others into a relationship with the Trinity. Within this central call, as parish catechetical leaders, we are responsible for developing, directing, and implementing a successful parish formation program. This workshop will discuss the policies and procedures needed to help our programs run effectively and protect the children, teens, catechists, and families we serve, as well as ourselves. This workshop will also help us develop professionalism in our ministries in order to better serve the individuals entrusted to us.

This workshop explores the most critical element in the graced work of passing on the faith — you. Because the content of the faith is a Person — the Person of Christ — the person of the catechist is pivotal for success. The vocation of the catechist is to be a witness of Christ’s goodness, of His zeal, of His ways, of Him — to be like the Master. “Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus” (St. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation "On Catechesis in Our Time," Catechesi tradendae (CT) 6). This calling is both joyfully thrilling, and jarringly daunting. It is a supernatural work, beyond our natural capacities. “Catechesis . . . is consequently a work of the Holy Spirit, a work that He alone can initiate and sustain in the Church” (CT 72). And sustain in you. This foundational workshop offers inspiration, insight, and guidance to encourage catechists as they strive to live out their privileged vocation.

Knowing and understanding Scripture is essential in the life of a catechist. This workshop will explore how God’s Word, transmitted in Sacred Scripture, grounds and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. In Scripture, we see the sweeping Plan of God, the history of salvation unfolded. We hear His stunning and steadfast invitation to communion with Him. Sacred Scripture ought to permeate all forms of catechesis, as well as our personal lives as catechists. Through creating lesson plans saturated with the Scriptures, we foster a profound encounter with the Divine – love and challenge, wisdom and hope, forgiveness and mercy, and the means to know God and to know ourselves. By breaking open the Scriptures in each catechetical session, we unlock the mystery of Christ, revealing to those we teach the One they desire to know, fostering life-changing intimacy with God.

In Youth Formation

The responsibility of passing on the faith to a young person begins first and foremost with his or her family, particularly the parents. St. John Paul II wrote that catechesis within the family has “a special character, which is in a sense irreplaceable” (Catechesi tradendae, CT, 68). Though the teenage years are often characterized as a time of rebellion from the family, the ‘National Study of Youth and Religion’ found that a young person is more likely than not to reflect the religiosity of his or her parents. Parents are the hinge-point of successfully and consistently reaching most teens. It is therefore essential that those in youth ministry understand that their role is to provide support for families, empower them, and partner with them.

In Adult Formation

St. John Paul II stated that adult catechesis is “the principal form of catechesis, because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibilities and the capacity to live the Christian message in its fully developed form” (Apostolic Exhortation “On Catechesis in Our Time,” Catechesi tradendae 43). During His public ministry, Jesus invited men and women to follow Him and be His disciples. Through adult catechesis, we invite men and women to be Jesus’ disciples, and we accompany them on their journey of faith, so that they may come to believe more firmly, hope more ardently, and love more perfectly. This workshop offers practical insights on how to disciple adults, the need for pastoral accompaniment, and how to identify and sensitively address the needs that exist in every community.

The ministry of catechesis and the ministry of spiritual formation are ordinarily somewhat separate in people’s understanding. Yet in the Church’s mind, they relate naturally and necessarily. In the General Directory for Catechesis we read, “Truly, to help a person to encounter God, which is the task of the catechist, means to emphasize above all the relationship that the person has with God so that he can make it his own and allow himself to be guided by God. . . . The catechist is essentially a mediator. He facilitates communication between the people and the mystery of God, between subjects amongst themselves, as well as with the community” (139, 156). This workshop explores what it means to be guided — an intentional docility and trust in the Church's ability to lead us to spiritual growth, to peace with God, to sanctity. Building upon this, we then examine the fundamentals of what it means for you to guide another soul in a catechetical context, so that you can more intentionally seek to be all that the catechetical vocation is graced to become. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

 

Director of Religious Education: Level 1

Director of Religious Education: Level 1


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

In order to pass on the truths of Faith in season and out, the catechist must be securely grounded in Christ. This workshop will consider the richness of the Catholic spiritual life as it pertains specifically to the life of the catechist. Prayer is not the “last ditch effort” of defense for us as catechists, but our first line of defense - the wings on which every effort should soar. Our society often has trouble recognizing that the invisible spiritual realities are in fact “more real,” and certainly more lasting, than the physical realities we touch, see, hear, and experience daily. A review of the spiritual tools of the trade is thus appropriate to help us as catechists joyfully incorporate prayer as our first, middle, and last act of the day, and of the teaching session, creating an environment for catechesis that is permeated by prayer.

What does it mean to serve in a diverse parish? Cultural diversity has always been at the heart of the Church: “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). This workshop explores how to navigate the intercultural reality that many parish programs experience, so that we can effectively bring the love of Christ to each person and help all within the community feel a part of the Body of Christ. In doing so, fostering a respect for the dignity of each person, honoring the pivotal importance of family culture, and making the effort to grow in intercultural competence become key highlights in any successful ministry approach.

Director of Religious Education: Level 2
Director of Religious Education: Level 2

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

 

In the Directory for Catechesis we read, “Over the course of the centuries, the Church has never neglected to give priority to the formation of catechists. . . . Formation is an ongoing process that, under the guidance of the Spirit and in the living womb of the Christian community, helps the baptized person to take shape . . .” (130–131). This beautiful document highlights for us the incredible vocation that is catechesis and the importance of our formation as catechists. God calls catechists and religion teachers to the work of bringing Jesus Christ to the world, and to do this, those who are catechists and teachers are in constant need of growing closer to the Holy One. In this workshop, we will explore some of the principles laid out in the gift that is this Directory for Catechesis, learning about the identity of the catechist and how to be formed in the work of catechesis well. Whether you are a priest, parish catechetical leader, catechist, or someone else tasked with the work of forming other catechists and teachers, you will surely benefit from the many riches the Directory for Catechesis has to offer, presented in this workshop. 

The goal of catechesis is participation in God’s life. It is critical that catechists learn how to effectively engage the young mind and heart of each child, encourage each child to respect and love the things of the faith, and help each child discover the wonderful love of a gentle Father. This very basic workshop focuses on the most fundamental catechetical methodologies that will enable the catechist of children to facilitate intimacy with God and fidelity to the Church. Methods and techniques will be demonstrated that encourage children to grow in wonder and awe, as they deepen their love for God and His truths. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Director of Religious Education: Level 3
Director of Religious Education: Level 3

Knowing and understanding Scripture is essential in the life of a catechist. This workshop will explore how God’s Word, transmitted in Sacred Scripture, grounds and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. In Scripture, we see the sweeping Plan of God, the history of salvation unfolded. We hear His stunning and steadfast invitation to communion with Him. Sacred Scripture ought to permeate all forms of catechesis, as well as our personal lives as catechists. Through creating lesson plans saturated with the Scriptures, we foster a profound encounter with the Divine – love and challenge, wisdom and hope, forgiveness and mercy, and the means to know God and to know ourselves. By breaking open the Scriptures in each catechetical session, we unlock the mystery of Christ, revealing to those we teach the One they desire to know, fostering life-changing intimacy with God.

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

This workshop will explore the necessary connection of catechesis to the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church in our work as catechists.  The liturgy comes from the “living memory” of the Church, that is, the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 1099).  Through the Holy Spirit working in the liturgy, the truths of the faith are passed on like a special family memory, from generation to generation, down to the present day.  Each time we participate in the liturgy, we receive the treasure of the Deposit of Faith.  But the liturgy is more than a family heirloom – it is reality. It is the place in which “Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of human beings” (Catechesi Tradendae, CT, 23).  As catechists, we have a call: the privilege of ensuring that those we catechize understand and grow in appreciation for this encounter with God.  We bring others into God’s saving work in the liturgy so they too can be transformed by the One Who loves us fully.  We teach about the liturgy to pass on the magnificent inheritance of faith to the next generation, echoing the action of catechists from the centuries before us.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

Electives: Any Level

Director of Religious Education


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

“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.  Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for: The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 27). The basic proclamation of the Good News of Jesus’ saving life, death and Resurrection, known as the kerygma, is about giving the gift of belonging  the call to a life within a Love beyond all telling. This workshop lays out the essential elements of this most important story, enabling those who teach, share, and witness to more effectively unfold its surpassing beauty to other souls. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

In the Directory for Catechesis we read, “Catechesis draws its message from the Word of God, which is its main source. Therefore, ‘it is essential that the revealed word radically enrich our catechesis and all our efforts to pass on the faith’” (91). Children, even those as young as three years old, have a profound capacity for understanding Scripture and also for developing a deep love for it. Children encounter Jesus through hearing, reading, and praying with Scripture. Mother Church’s call for us to draw our catechesis from Sacred Scripture applies to all of us catechizing children, whether as parish catechists, Catholic school teachers, parents, and so on. The methods by which we introduce the Scriptures to children, and the particular passages we invite them to explore, depend largely on the developmental stage of the children. Thus, in this workshop we will explore when and how to introduce specific passages from the Scriptures to children, particularly children of ages 3–12, in such a way as to help them grow in their relationship with God and truly love encountering Him in His Word.

Recognizing that ". . . [t]he future of the world and of the Church passes through the family," St. John Paul II exhorts the Christian family to “become what you are” in his Apostolic Exhortation, "On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World," Familiaris consortio, paragraphs 75 (italics our emphasis) and 17. The Christian family is a community that lies at the heart of formation, education, and evangelization. This workshop walks us through this pastoral document from the saint who is often called the “Pope of the family,” examining the tasks facing the Christian family in both its natural and supernatural roles. It examines St. John Paul II’s teaching in Familiaris consortio, systematically exploring the tasks of the family that the Church, through St. John Paul II, has presented in the document. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

“Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. . . . In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1655, 1656). Jesus’ entrance into a family places a particular emphasis on family life. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and Christian families are primary centers of "radiant faith." The Christian family is the domestic church, because it is in the family that parents and children pray, sacrifice, worship, live charity, and offer the witness of holy lives. This workshop teaches what the domestic church is and how God saves us in and through the family and the community that God has given to us.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

This workshop will introduce participants to biblical catechesis through an ancient catechetical technique: the use of the Story of the Bible. The most important historical events of the Bible can be briefly described in one Story, connected by one common theme: union with God. The Story of the Bible portrays the drama of God’s love for every soul and the whole human race: how God created us to be united with Him in a relationship of love; how we lost union with God through the original sin; how Jesus re-united us with God in a relationship of love through His passion, death and Resurrection; and how the Holy Spirit fosters a continuing unfolding of those saving events in the life of Church, as the Lord’s Bride. Often in a catechetical setting we fall into the habit of teaching individual topics without reference to the greater context of salvation history. In order to draw others into the life of God and the Church we have to help them make this Story of the Bible their own. Everything that the Church teaches, her doctrines, disciplines, worship, and morality makes sense when delivered within the context of the Story of the Bible. The Story of the Bible tells us of our spiritual roots, our dignity, our destiny, and daily vocation to follow Jesus Christ, providing peace and authentic hope to those we seek to teach and evangelize.

 

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation” (2205). Thus, the family reveals to us something about Who God is and how we are called to live as His beloved sons and daughters. This is the theology of the family, which we will explore in this workshop. Through the human family, we have the beautiful and unique opportunity to bring into the world and raise images of God, for we are all created in our Lord’s image, to be formed into His likeness and destined for eternity with Him in Heaven. The theology of the family does indeed present us with a lofty ideal, especially given that every family, due to the effects of the Fall, is wounded and broken by sin in different ways. However, as we’ll see in this workshop, God’s vision of the family is indeed worth discovering and pursuing, and we can seek to live it out even in the smallest of tasks of our daily lives as well as sharing our beautiful call as families with everyone we encounter. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Guiding children in the ways of the faith, leading them into a relationship of love with the Blessed Trinity is a ministry to which many of us are called in various capacities — as parents, godparents, catechists, youth ministers, Catholic school teachers, pastors, and so on. For all of us with children in our care, the question arises: How do we reach each individual child with the truth, and lead him or her in a way that will help inspire a lifelong relationship with Jesus? This workshop will provide an opportunity for you to consider your own relationship with God — since we cannot effectively hand on a relationship with our heavenly Father to others if we, ourselves, are not grounded in such a relationship — and provide you with ways of getting to know the children in your care more deeply, so that you might better understand how God can work through you to form their minds, hearts, and souls into those of saintsThis workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

“‘And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, “You go into the vineyard too . . .” So they went’” (Matthew 20:3–4). We are invited by Jesus to participate in His work of redemption and sanctification; He calls us to come close to Him and sends us out to labor in His vineyard. As members of the laity, we labor in the vineyard in a unique way by being in the world and not of the world. St. John Paul II deepened the Church’s understanding of the role of the laity in the Church and in the world in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World,” Christifideles laici. This workshop unpacks the teaching of St. John Paul II in this document and describes the essential role of every lay person and how to apply it to the concrete circumstances of our own lives. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Scripture converts.  It is an effective gift to God’s adoptive family, graced and imbued with His own life.  The place of the sacred page in our catechetical work is matchless, irreplaceably vital.  It is is at the heart of all that the Church “believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God” (RCIA 491).  This workshop will explore Sacred Scripture as a fundamental agent of conversion in the catechetical process, and will provide practical means to make Scripture much more than just “proof” texts for your teaching.  Learn how to identify the Scriptures that drive the Church’s doctrines and how to incorporate them into your catechesis as the preeminent unfolding of the Father’s love for His children.

 

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

“We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World, Gaudete et exsultate 14). The Second Vatican Council reminds us that there is a universal call to holiness (see the Dogmatic Constitution "On the Church," Lumen gentium 39-44), which means that God calls every person to be in relationship with Him, and He calls each of us to be holy as He is holy (see Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1:15–16). Holiness is to be lived out in one’s particular state in life, and thus for parents, it is to be attained in both their spousal and parental vocations, through the help of God’s grace. This workshop offers reflections on the lives of a few parent saints, whose witness and way of life inspire us to be holy parents, as we seek to do God’s will in the particular circumstances of our own family life. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

New Director of Religious Education

New Director of Religious Education


While “Parish Catechetical Leader” can mean virtually anything in a given parish, there are  specific skills that are particularly best suited for the people who serve in these eclectic positions. This workshop discusses those skills and traits in detail and examines some of the major themes, underlying principles and recurring patterns found in the lives of successful leaders who serve under pastors. May we be inspired to seek the harder road in the privileged vocation of leadership in God’s Church, so that He may be glorified and many souls lifted up. As St. Catherine of Siena in the voice of our Lord said: “I have set you as workers in your own and your neighbor’s souls, and in the mystic Body of holy Church.  Take your tears and your sweat, drawn from the fountain of My Divine love, and with them wash the face of My spouse the Church. I promise you, that by this means, her beauty will be restored to her.”

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Our mission in all of our religious education endeavors within the parish is to proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and to lead others into a relationship with the Trinity. Within this central call, as parish catechetical leaders, we are responsible for developing, directing, and implementing a successful parish formation program. This workshop will discuss the policies and procedures needed to help our programs run effectively and protect the children, teens, catechists, and families we serve, as well as ourselves. This workshop will also help us develop professionalism in our ministries in order to better serve the individuals entrusted to us.

What does it mean to serve in a diverse parish? Cultural diversity has always been at the heart of the Church: “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). This workshop explores how to navigate the intercultural reality that many parish programs experience, so that we can effectively bring the love of Christ to each person and help all within the community feel a part of the Body of Christ. In doing so, fostering a respect for the dignity of each person, honoring the pivotal importance of family culture, and making the effort to grow in intercultural competence become key highlights in any successful ministry approach.

Electives 

New Director of Religious Education


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

The ministry of catechesis and the ministry of spiritual formation are ordinarily somewhat separate in people’s understanding. Yet in the Church’s mind, they relate naturally and necessarily. In the General Directory for Catechesis we read, “Truly, to help a person to encounter God, which is the task of the catechist, means to emphasize above all the relationship that the person has with God so that he can make it his own and allow himself to be guided by God. . . . The catechist is essentially a mediator. He facilitates communication between the people and the mystery of God, between subjects amongst themselves, as well as with the community” (139, 156). This workshop explores what it means to be guided — an intentional docility and trust in the Church's ability to lead us to spiritual growth, to peace with God, to sanctity. Building upon this, we then examine the fundamentals of what it means for you to guide another soul in a catechetical context, so that you can more intentionally seek to be all that the catechetical vocation is graced to become. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

 

This workshop explores the most critical element in the graced work of passing on the faith — you. Because the content of the faith is a Person — the Person of Christ — the person of the catechist is pivotal for success. The vocation of the catechist is to be a witness of Christ’s goodness, of His zeal, of His ways, of Him — to be like the Master. “Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus” (St. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation "On Catechesis in Our Time," Catechesi tradendae (CT) 6). This calling is both joyfully thrilling, and jarringly daunting. It is a supernatural work, beyond our natural capacities. “Catechesis . . . is consequently a work of the Holy Spirit, a work that He alone can initiate and sustain in the Church” (CT 72). And sustain in you. This foundational workshop offers inspiration, insight, and guidance to encourage catechists as they strive to live out their privileged vocation.

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

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

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

Knowing and understanding Scripture is essential in the life of a catechist. This workshop will explore how God’s Word, transmitted in Sacred Scripture, grounds and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. In Scripture, we see the sweeping Plan of God, the history of salvation unfolded. We hear His stunning and steadfast invitation to communion with Him. Sacred Scripture ought to permeate all forms of catechesis, as well as our personal lives as catechists. Through creating lesson plans saturated with the Scriptures, we foster a profound encounter with the Divine – love and challenge, wisdom and hope, forgiveness and mercy, and the means to know God and to know ourselves. By breaking open the Scriptures in each catechetical session, we unlock the mystery of Christ, revealing to those we teach the One they desire to know, fostering life-changing intimacy with God.

Adult Formation Leader: Level 1

Adult Formation Leader Level 1


“‘And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, “You go into the vineyard too . . .” So they went’” (Matthew 20:3–4). We are invited by Jesus to participate in His work of redemption and sanctification; He calls us to come close to Him and sends us out to labor in His vineyard. As members of the laity, we labor in the vineyard in a unique way by being in the world and not of the world. St. John Paul II deepened the Church’s understanding of the role of the laity in the Church and in the world in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World,” Christifideles laici. This workshop unpacks the teaching of St. John Paul II in this document and describes the essential role of every lay person and how to apply it to the concrete circumstances of our own lives. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

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

What does it mean to serve in a diverse parish? Cultural diversity has always been at the heart of the Church: “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). This workshop explores how to navigate the intercultural reality that many parish programs experience, so that we can effectively bring the love of Christ to each person and help all within the community feel a part of the Body of Christ. In doing so, fostering a respect for the dignity of each person, honoring the pivotal importance of family culture, and making the effort to grow in intercultural competence become key highlights in any successful ministry approach.

Adult Formation Leader: Level 2

Adult Formation Leader Level 2

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

“. . . thus says the Lord . . . ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1). Through the saving life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed and called to know a sense of our belonging to the Blessed Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel, the kerygma, is the message we are called to share with all those we catechize, and the great story of God’s loving plan for our salvation and what He calls us to be. In order to proclaim the kerygma to any audience in a way that can be heard and inculcated — such that they desire to run to their Savior and return His love — it is important for us to understand the content of the kerygma, its different formulations, and the context in which we will be sharing it. This workshop will explore the essence of the kerygma and ways to effectively share it with the particular audience we have in front of us.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

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

Adult Formation Leader: Level 3
Adult Formation Leader Level 3

“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.  Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for: The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 27). The basic proclamation of the Good News of Jesus’ saving life, death and Resurrection, known as the kerygma, is about giving the gift of belonging  the call to a life within a Love beyond all telling. This workshop lays out the essential elements of this most important story, enabling those who teach, share, and witness to more effectively unfold its surpassing beauty to other souls. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

This workshop will introduce participants to biblical catechesis through an ancient catechetical technique: the use of the Story of the Bible. The most important historical events of the Bible can be briefly described in one Story, connected by one common theme: union with God. The Story of the Bible portrays the drama of God’s love for every soul and the whole human race: how God created us to be united with Him in a relationship of love; how we lost union with God through the original sin; how Jesus re-united us with God in a relationship of love through His passion, death and Resurrection; and how the Holy Spirit fosters a continuing unfolding of those saving events in the life of Church, as the Lord’s Bride. Often in a catechetical setting we fall into the habit of teaching individual topics without reference to the greater context of salvation history. In order to draw others into the life of God and the Church we have to help them make this Story of the Bible their own. Everything that the Church teaches, her doctrines, disciplines, worship, and morality makes sense when delivered within the context of the Story of the Bible. The Story of the Bible tells us of our spiritual roots, our dignity, our destiny, and daily vocation to follow Jesus Christ, providing peace and authentic hope to those we seek to teach and evangelize.

 

This workshop is about the central importance of personal vocation. In the words of St. John Paul II, the human person, each unique and unrepeatable, is “the primary and fundamental way for the Church” (RH 14). Each is called to a graced path: to eternal divine beatitude, and to live as a person devoted to the good of his or her neighbor. We will discuss the meaning of personal vocation as it emerged from the Second Vatican Council and was developed in the teaching of St. John Paul II. The unfortunate neglect of personal vocation will also be addressed. We will discuss the pressing need for integrating personal vocation into all Catholic formation. Mentors must situate their mentorship squarely within their own unique callings. In turn, they must help those in their care further clarify and deepen their own personal vocations. Personal vocation should not be a peripheral concept for the Catholic but a central and integrating principle of a life lived in and for Christ.

 

Electives: Any Level
Adult Formation Leader


“Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 1069). Through the liturgy, the grace that flows from Jesus’ saving work is made available to us so that we may grow in intimacy and communion with the Blessed Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the sacred liturgy, we are reminded of all God’s blessings: from creation, to the cross, to our re-creation in sacramental grace. God initiates, we respond, and we will continue responding until Jesus comes again. This workshop offers us an opportunity to learn how the liturgy is an encounter with the Holy Trinity and the primary means for us to live in right relationship with our Lord. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

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

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

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation” (2205). Thus, the family reveals to us something about Who God is and how we are called to live as His beloved sons and daughters. This is the theology of the family, which we will explore in this workshop. Through the human family, we have the beautiful and unique opportunity to bring into the world and raise images of God, for we are all created in our Lord’s image, to be formed into His likeness and destined for eternity with Him in Heaven. The theology of the family does indeed present us with a lofty ideal, especially given that every family, due to the effects of the Fall, is wounded and broken by sin in different ways. However, as we’ll see in this workshop, God’s vision of the family is indeed worth discovering and pursuing, and we can seek to live it out even in the smallest of tasks of our daily lives as well as sharing our beautiful call as families with everyone we encounter. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Scripture converts.  It is an effective gift to God’s adoptive family, graced and imbued with His own life.  The place of the sacred page in our catechetical work is matchless, irreplaceably vital.  It is is at the heart of all that the Church “believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God” (RCIA 491).  This workshop will explore Sacred Scripture as a fundamental agent of conversion in the catechetical process, and will provide practical means to make Scripture much more than just “proof” texts for your teaching.  Learn how to identify the Scriptures that drive the Church’s doctrines and how to incorporate them into your catechesis as the preeminent unfolding of the Father’s love for His children.

 

“The Word of God became man, a concrete man, in space and time and rooted in a specific culture . . .” (General Directory for Catechesis 109). Jesus provides for us the example of living in a particular culture and engaging the good things of the culture to aid individuals in the process of conversion, and rejecting those things in a culture which hinder conversion. Each of us finds ourselves living and interacting within a variety of cultures — family culture, workplace culture, modern culture, and so on — each of which possesses certain aids and barriers to our continual turning from sin and turning toward God. This workshop will guide us in thinking about some of the obstacles to conversion present in our current culture, as well as some of the true, good, and beautiful gifts our culture has to offer. We will explore Mother Church's vision for engaging the good things our culture has to offer in a way that fosters love for the Gospel and aids the process of continual conversion for ourselves and others.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) we read, “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ . . . In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking’” (1324, 1327). By growing in intimacy with our Eucharistic Lord Jesus and seeking to center our lives around this supreme gift, we learn how to live as grace-filled Christians. In this workshop, we will explore what it means to be a disciple of our Eucharistic Lord and learn how to do so in a way that “breathes with both lungs” — that is, through the traditions of both the Christian East and Christian West (see St. John Paul II's Encyclical Letter, "On Commitment to Ecumenism," Ut unum sint 54). This workshop is, thus, for all of us, whether we are parents, priests, religious, lay catechists, schoolteachers, and so on.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

“Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love . . .” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 357). The dignity of the human person dwells in relationship. It resides first and foremost in our relationship with God, Who created us in His image and calls us always to Himself. It resides, as well, in our relationships with others, who share in our humanity. Each of our ministries within the Church includes a call to relationship, and always a call to foster healthy and healing relationships. As we will learn in this workshop, certain communication skills underlie all healthy, healing relationships. Parish ministers are not therapists, but practicing these healthy ways of communicating encourages healthy relationships and can even foster healing amidst those they serve. Let us approach this workshop, then, ever mindful of the precious dignity of those our heavenly Father places in our path, and of the beautiful way in which each person we encounter holds within him or herself the astounding identity of being a child of God.

The discernment of one’s vocation is an important process for any young adult. Whether it be a vocation to holy matrimony, a form of consecrated life, or single life, every vocation is directed toward bringing us closer to God so we may share in union with Him. This workshop outlines some basic guidelines for this time of discernment, emphasizing that both a vocation itself, as well as this time of discernment, are ordered toward fostering a deeper relationship with God.

Empathic listening makes a profound impact on mentoring relationships and in the mentor’s ability to influence effectively someone seeking guidance. When mentors ask good questions, they demonstrate a sincere interest in getting to know those in their care. Such questions orient the relationship towards more authentic sharing, and thereby allows the Holy Spirit to foster spiritual progress and genuine openness to God’s will. This workshop is intended to complement the workshop on asking good questions. Empathic listening is the counterpart skill that enables mentors to truly understand another person intellectually as well as emotionally. As well as addressing the meaning of empathy, we discuss how Jesus provides the superlative pattern for this service to souls. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

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

In his Apostolic Exhortation “On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World,” Familiaris consortio (FC), St. John Paul II reminds us of the beautiful role of a mother and father: “When they become parents, spouses receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God, ‘from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named’” (14). Parenting is not always easy — in fact, it is oftentimes quite difficult, exhausting, and chaotic. Yet, it is a beautiful vocation. When God calls us to it, He longs to equip us for it through our relationship with Him, and especially through our reception of His grace in the sacraments. In this workshop, we will focus, as parents, on the importance of growing in our relationship with God and our love for Him. When we have this loving relationship, we can more effectively raise our children lovingly and lead them into relationship with the One Who loves them most: our Lord Himself. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Youth Formation Leader: Level 1

Youth Formation Leader: Level 1


“Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us” (CCC 2560). Jesus not only desires to have a relationship with youth, but with youth ministers as well.  In fact, God cares more about doing ministry to people than he cares about people doing ministry for others. This workshop focuses on God’s intense love for us, and places that personal relationship as the center for all our ministry.

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

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

Youth Formation Leader: Level 2
Youth Formation Leader: Level 2

“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. . . . Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27). Here St. Paul teaches us that we are members of Christ’s Body, and as we see throughout 1 Corinthians 12, each member of the Body of Christ is vital and serves a specific purpose. In youth ministry, there are various individuals that aid in evangelizing and catechizing young people, so that they might fall deeper in love with our Lord and His Body, the Church. As the Body of Christ, interdependency is fundamental for our fidelity to God and success in serving others. This workshop will explore the broader picture of youth ministry — that is, how we work with our bishop and diocese, our pastor, other members of the parish staff, and adult volunteers — in order to better understand and appreciate the various members of the Body of Christ, and work together as one Body in the service of young people.

What does it mean to serve in a diverse parish? Cultural diversity has always been at the heart of the Church: “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). This workshop explores how to navigate the intercultural reality that many parish programs experience, so that we can effectively bring the love of Christ to each person and help all within the community feel a part of the Body of Christ. In doing so, fostering a respect for the dignity of each person, honoring the pivotal importance of family culture, and making the effort to grow in intercultural competence become key highlights in any successful ministry approach.

Youth Formation Leader: Level 3
Youth Formation Leader: Level 3

In his introduction to the Youcat (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church), Pope Benedict XVI challenges young people: “You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith . . . so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination.” This exhortation holds true not only for young people, but also for us, those who minister to them. If we are to effectively hand on the truths of the Catholic faith and the beauty of holy Mother Church to the young, we must, ourselves, be immersed in our Lord’s teachings and continually seeking to know Him more. This workshop has a special focus on our formation as youth ministers and helps us understand the immense importance of making our study of Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, salvation history, and so on, an indispensable aspect of our lives and our work.

“At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2). When the Second Person of the Trinity became flesh and dwelt among us, everything changed. He used to speak through others, now He comes to us personally. This model of “incarnational ministry” should be at the foundation of our efforts to reach teens. For ministry to be effective, it has to be intentionally and consistently relational. As St. John Bosco once wrote that it was important “not only that the (youth) be loved, but that they know they are loved.” We explore how to do that safely and effectively in the current culture.

Electives: Any Level

Youth Formation Leader

“[Adolescence] is characterized by the drive for independence, and at the same time by the fear of beginning to separate from the family context; this creates a continual to and fro between bursts of enthusiasm and setbacks. . . . It is therefore to be the concern of the community and the catechist to make room within themselves for grasping and accepting without judgment and with sincere educational passion this adolescent search for freedom, starting to channel it toward an open and daring life plan” (Directory for Catechesis 248). Adolescence can be a trying time, because it is a period involving monumental changes for a young person. It is beneficial to develop a holistic view of adolescence and what occurs during adolescent development, in order to speak to the heart of a young person and lead him or her closer to the Lord. Young people have the desire to do something daring and purposeful with their lives. We can help fulfill this desire by inviting them to follow Jesus. The goal of this workshop is to help youth ministers, parents, teachers, and those who minister to teens understand the development of teenagers — biological, cognitive, and social-emotional — in order to effectively minister to them.

Faith seeks understanding. Yet, understanding the social teachings of the Catholic Church is not enough. Teens need to be drawn into the apostolic life and mission of the Church, and be given tangible opportunities to experience that life at work. This workshop addresses the critical nature of outreach and service, and offers excellent resources for mobilizing teens for service and leadership. It also addresses the apostolic nature of the Church, and the great gift of priestly and religious vocations, helping youth ministers to understand how to draw young people into a greater awareness of that gift.

Empathic listening makes a profound impact on mentoring relationships and in the mentor’s ability to influence effectively someone seeking guidance. When mentors ask good questions, they demonstrate a sincere interest in getting to know those in their care. Such questions orient the relationship towards more authentic sharing, and thereby allows the Holy Spirit to foster spiritual progress and genuine openness to God’s will. This workshop is intended to complement the workshop on asking good questions. Empathic listening is the counterpart skill that enables mentors to truly understand another person intellectually as well as emotionally. As well as addressing the meaning of empathy, we discuss how Jesus provides the superlative pattern for this service to souls. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

This workshop outlines the Church’s purpose and understanding of sacred liturgy in light of God’s wonderful plan of salvation. It helps youth ministers develop a Catholic identity with their teens through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, offering pragmatic and well-tested ways to help teens participate in the liturgy, as well as strategies to help teens see the Eucharist as the ‘source and summit’ of their lives.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

“Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 1069). Through the liturgy, the grace that flows from Jesus’ saving work is made available to us so that we may grow in intimacy and communion with the Blessed Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the sacred liturgy, we are reminded of all God’s blessings: from creation, to the cross, to our re-creation in sacramental grace. God initiates, we respond, and we will continue responding until Jesus comes again. This workshop offers us an opportunity to learn how the liturgy is an encounter with the Holy Trinity and the primary means for us to live in right relationship with our Lord. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

This workshop offers a summary outline of the basic principles of Catholic morality and how our moral life is rooted, not merely in a code of ethics or a set of rules, but profoundly in the Person of Jesus. It discusses some of the major moral issues we face in our society today, and equips all who teach the faith — whether youth ministers, catechists, Catholic school teachers, and so on — with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking, both in themselves and in those to whom they minister.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) we read, “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ . . . In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking’” (1324, 1327). By growing in intimacy with our Eucharistic Lord Jesus and seeking to center our lives around this supreme gift, we learn how to live as grace-filled Christians. In this workshop, we will explore what it means to be a disciple of our Eucharistic Lord and learn how to do so in a way that “breathes with both lungs” — that is, through the traditions of both the Christian East and Christian West (see St. John Paul II's Encyclical Letter, "On Commitment to Ecumenism," Ut unum sint 54). This workshop is, thus, for all of us, whether we are parents, priests, religious, lay catechists, schoolteachers, and so on.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

In his Apostolic Exhortation “On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World,” Familiaris consortio (FC), St. John Paul II reminds us of the beautiful role of a mother and father: “When they become parents, spouses receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God, ‘from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named’” (14). Parenting is not always easy — in fact, it is oftentimes quite difficult, exhausting, and chaotic. Yet, it is a beautiful vocation. When God calls us to it, He longs to equip us for it through our relationship with Him, and especially through our reception of His grace in the sacraments. In this workshop, we will focus, as parents, on the importance of growing in our relationship with God and our love for Him. When we have this loving relationship, we can more effectively raise our children lovingly and lead them into relationship with the One Who loves them most: our Lord Himself. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation” (2205). Thus, the family reveals to us something about Who God is and how we are called to live as His beloved sons and daughters. This is the theology of the family, which we will explore in this workshop. Through the human family, we have the beautiful and unique opportunity to bring into the world and raise images of God, for we are all created in our Lord’s image, to be formed into His likeness and destined for eternity with Him in Heaven. The theology of the family does indeed present us with a lofty ideal, especially given that every family, due to the effects of the Fall, is wounded and broken by sin in different ways. However, as we’ll see in this workshop, God’s vision of the family is indeed worth discovering and pursuing, and we can seek to live it out even in the smallest of tasks of our daily lives as well as sharing our beautiful call as families with everyone we encounter. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

This workshop will introduce participants to biblical catechesis through an ancient catechetical technique: the use of the Story of the Bible. The most important historical events of the Bible can be briefly described in one Story, connected by one common theme: union with God. The Story of the Bible portrays the drama of God’s love for every soul and the whole human race: how God created us to be united with Him in a relationship of love; how we lost union with God through the original sin; how Jesus re-united us with God in a relationship of love through His passion, death and Resurrection; and how the Holy Spirit fosters a continuing unfolding of those saving events in the life of Church, as the Lord’s Bride. Often in a catechetical setting we fall into the habit of teaching individual topics without reference to the greater context of salvation history. In order to draw others into the life of God and the Church we have to help them make this Story of the Bible their own. Everything that the Church teaches, her doctrines, disciplines, worship, and morality makes sense when delivered within the context of the Story of the Bible. The Story of the Bible tells us of our spiritual roots, our dignity, our destiny, and daily vocation to follow Jesus Christ, providing peace and authentic hope to those we seek to teach and evangelize.

 

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

Catechist: Level 1
Catechist: Level 1

This workshop explores the most critical element in the graced work of passing on the faith — you. Because the content of the faith is a Person — the Person of Christ — the person of the catechist is pivotal for success. The vocation of the catechist is to be a witness of Christ’s goodness, of His zeal, of His ways, of Him — to be like the Master. “Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus” (St. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation "On Catechesis in Our Time," Catechesi tradendae (CT) 6). This calling is both joyfully thrilling, and jarringly daunting. It is a supernatural work, beyond our natural capacities. “Catechesis . . . is consequently a work of the Holy Spirit, a work that He alone can initiate and sustain in the Church” (CT 72). And sustain in you. This foundational workshop offers inspiration, insight, and guidance to encourage catechists as they strive to live out their privileged vocation.

Mother Church insists that catechesis that truly evangelizes hearts, and that meets souls in the place of greatest need, must be unshakably centered upon Him who is our beginning and our end – Jesus Christ.  We teach Jesus, and everything we teach, we teach in reference to Him, thus teaching Christo-centrically.  Come explore how to unfold the life-giving truths of our faith with Jesus placed clearly at the center of all things: our teaching content, our teaching methods, and our own personal witness to others whom God has called us to love.

Throughout the generations, the Word of God has been handed on as a precious jewel. The Church has guarded this Deposit of Faith so that the saving message of hope might shine out for all to see. Now it is up to us. It is our turn to hand on this jewel, unscathed. It is up to us to catechize, continuing the unbroken chain of passing on the faith throughout the ages. The term catechesis comes from two Greek words meaning, “to echo down,” reflecting the call to us to “echo down,” to hand on, the whole of the faith in its saving fullness. This Deposit of Faith is summed up for our times in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We will look at this important teaching tool for catechesis in this workshop, to discover how we, too, can effectively pass on the precious deposit of Christian teaching. And in learning how to do this, we are able to insert our own name into St. Paul’s exhortation, “O catechist, guard what has been entrusted to you.”

 

This workshop will explore the necessary connection of catechesis to the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church in our work as catechists.  The liturgy comes from the “living memory” of the Church, that is, the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 1099).  Through the Holy Spirit working in the liturgy, the truths of the faith are passed on like a special family memory, from generation to generation, down to the present day.  Each time we participate in the liturgy, we receive the treasure of the Deposit of Faith.  But the liturgy is more than a family heirloom – it is reality. It is the place in which “Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of human beings” (Catechesi Tradendae, CT, 23).  As catechists, we have a call: the privilege of ensuring that those we catechize understand and grow in appreciation for this encounter with God.  We bring others into God’s saving work in the liturgy so they too can be transformed by the One Who loves us fully.  We teach about the liturgy to pass on the magnificent inheritance of faith to the next generation, echoing the action of catechists from the centuries before us.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by William H. Sadlier, Inc.

Catechist: Level 2
Catechist: Level 2

Knowing and understanding Scripture is essential in the life of a catechist. This workshop will explore how God’s Word, transmitted in Sacred Scripture, grounds and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. In Scripture, we see the sweeping Plan of God, the history of salvation unfolded. We hear His stunning and steadfast invitation to communion with Him. Sacred Scripture ought to permeate all forms of catechesis, as well as our personal lives as catechists. Through creating lesson plans saturated with the Scriptures, we foster a profound encounter with the Divine – love and challenge, wisdom and hope, forgiveness and mercy, and the means to know God and to know ourselves. By breaking open the Scriptures in each catechetical session, we unlock the mystery of Christ, revealing to those we teach the One they desire to know, fostering life-changing intimacy with God.

“The content of catechesis cannot be indifferently subjected to any method” (General Directory for Catechesis 149). Every good catechist seeks in some organized fashion to give growth to the seed of faith, to nourish hope, and to develop a deeper desire to love God and neighbor. In this workshop, we will explore a method that is highly suited to the goals of catechesis, and flows from a study of how the Church’s many catechetical saints sought to pass on the beauty, truth, and goodness of Christ’s saving revelation.

This workshop sharpens a few of your philosophical tools for teaching the faith. Philosophy, far from putting our lessons out of reach of our audience, actually appeals to the reason of those we teach; it helps us explain doctrine so that it “makes sense,” rather than just falling back on, “because I said so.” This workshop will provide examples of philosophically approaching the faith by exploring both a Catholic and a secular worldview, as well as what these two approaches mean for the human person, ultimately helping us prepare our learners to answer Jesus’ crucial question to His apostles and to each one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”           

 

In order to pass on the truths of Faith in season and out, the catechist must be securely grounded in Christ. This workshop will consider the richness of the Catholic spiritual life as it pertains specifically to the life of the catechist. Prayer is not the “last ditch effort” of defense for us as catechists, but our first line of defense - the wings on which every effort should soar. Our society often has trouble recognizing that the invisible spiritual realities are in fact “more real,” and certainly more lasting, than the physical realities we touch, see, hear, and experience daily. A review of the spiritual tools of the trade is thus appropriate to help us as catechists joyfully incorporate prayer as our first, middle, and last act of the day, and of the teaching session, creating an environment for catechesis that is permeated by prayer.

Catechist: Level 3
Catechist: Level 3

This workshop will introduce participants to biblical catechesis through an ancient catechetical technique: the use of the Story of the Bible. The most important historical events of the Bible can be briefly described in one Story, connected by one common theme: union with God. The Story of the Bible portrays the drama of God’s love for every soul and the whole human race: how God created us to be united with Him in a relationship of love; how we lost union with God through the original sin; how Jesus re-united us with God in a relationship of love through His passion, death and Resurrection; and how the Holy Spirit fosters a continuing unfolding of those saving events in the life of Church, as the Lord’s Bride. Often in a catechetical setting we fall into the habit of teaching individual topics without reference to the greater context of salvation history. In order to draw others into the life of God and the Church we have to help them make this Story of the Bible their own. Everything that the Church teaches, her doctrines, disciplines, worship, and morality makes sense when delivered within the context of the Story of the Bible. The Story of the Bible tells us of our spiritual roots, our dignity, our destiny, and daily vocation to follow Jesus Christ, providing peace and authentic hope to those we seek to teach and evangelize.

 

The goal of catechesis is participation in God’s life. It is critical that catechists learn how to effectively engage the young mind and heart of each child, encourage each child to respect and love the things of the faith, and help each child discover the wonderful love of a gentle Father. This very basic workshop focuses on the most fundamental catechetical methodologies that will enable the catechist of children to facilitate intimacy with God and fidelity to the Church. Methods and techniques will be demonstrated that encourage children to grow in wonder and awe, as they deepen their love for God and His truths. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

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

The Blessed Trinity is the greatest of all mysteries: the One and Only God is a unity of Three Persons. The Trinity is also our final home, the goal of our life. This mystery, revealed in Jesus, sheds light on all other Christian mysteries. And it is the revelation that sheds light on all other Christian mysteries. Knowing that God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is a unity of loving Persons, changes our understanding of everything. Many religions believe in gods, some believe in one God, but nothing compares to the Christian belief in one God as a communion of Persons, named for us by Jesus as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many curriculums include the Trinity as only one doctrine among many. This workshop will help to show how to teach the centrality of the Trinity effectively, as the goal and fulfillment of the life of each Christian.

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