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Archdiocese of Toronto, Ontario

Greetings and Welcome!

Thanks for taking the time to find our Toronto Archdiocesan/Franciscan University of Steubenville Catholic faith formation certificates page.  This has become the fruit of a partnership that has stemmed from years of planning, prayer and discernment between Franciscan University's Catechetical Institute, and the Offices of Catholic Youth and Formation For Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Toronto.  We are excited to provide brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church the opportunity to learn, explore and further their experience in learning about the riches the Church has to offer in a number of ministry environments and settings across our Archdiocese.  Please take the time to review this webpage and all that it offers. 

If you have any questions that you would like to discuss, feel free to contact either of our offices: 

Office of Catholic Youth at (416) 599-7676 (youth@ocytoronto.org)

Office of Formation For Discipleship at (416)934-0606 (formation@archtoronto.org)

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Learning Tracks

Lay Pastoral Associate Certification Part I
Foundations

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

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

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

 

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

Scripture

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

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

 

Method

“The content of catechesis cannot be indifferently subjected to any method.” - General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) 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.

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

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

Philosophy

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?”           

 

Spiritual

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

 

Doctrine

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

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

 

Lay Pastoral Associate Certification Part II
Foundation

We are greatly blessed by the leadership God gives us through the teaching office of the Church, the Magisterium.  Significant documents have been written which provide much needed inspiration and guidance for catechists.  In this workshop we will consider the mind and heart of the Church through her key documents that govern the catechetical endeavor.  We will consider the underlying themes and their application in parish and school settings, as well as their meaning for the training, growth, and development of catechists.

 

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb 1:1-2).  Revelation means to pull back the veil.  It is God’s method of manifesting a bit 
of Himself, allowing us time to absorb it and respond, before He shows a bit more; and the process repeats.  Because the work of catechesis is oriented towards conversion, the catechist needs to understand clearly how a person gets faith and grows in faith.  This workshop delves in the sacred pattern of God’s methodology – how He reaches out to us, and how He calls us and enables us to freely respond.

Scripture

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.

 

Method

How do I know what to teach?  How do I know what is essential?  What can I not leave to chance that my students will get on their own?  Many catechists are never helped and trained to go beyond pre-written outlines.  They never discover how to take a piece of God’s revelation, a doctrine, and break it down in a way that answers these critical questions.  This workshop explores how to identify the premise, essentials, common misunderstandings, related doctrines, and foundational Scriptures for the truths all catechists are called to pass on, so that each catechist can develop teachings that flow from his or her own deep grasp of the saving truths.

 

Philosophy

Who am I? What is my nature? What has God created me for? Who has God created me for? The answers to these questions affect not only how I think about myself, but also how I think about those whom I catechize and how I encourage each of those whom I have the privilege of teaching to think about themselves. In this workshop we contemplate the unique answers that the Christian faith gives to these questions, answers that highlight the incredible dignity of every person. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Spiritual

Pope Benedict XVI stated that, “the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina… will bring to the Church a new spiritual springtime.”  Come and experience the prayerful pondering of sacred Scripture in the timeless Lectio Divina in which the Holy Spirit makes a connection between the passage and one’s own life.  This way of praying with the Word of God incorporates the natural development of relationship, which derives from the way God has touched and drawn human hearts down through the ages.  During this workshop, you will learn the four stages of Lectio Divina, which will help prepare you to share in this rich treasure of prayer.

 

Doctrine

This workshop examines the place of the sacraments within God’s magnificent plan of love. More than simply Catholic rituals, the sacraments are God’s chosen channels of supernatural life, His plan for doing even more than saving us. “‘For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.’  ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 460).  This workshop will explore this extraordinary truth, and the provision of God to grace His adopted sons and daughters for a life far beyond their own natural capacity.

How do we keep our focus on serving the Holy Spirit’s plan and empowerment, and not our own ways and human strength?  Pope Paul VI wrote, “techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit” (Evangelii Nuntandi 75).  No one responds to the gospel without first being drawn by the Holy Spirit, and no one can live the high calling of the Christian life without being empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we forget that outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores who the Holy Spirit is and His work in personal conversion and our accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.

The Church father St. Jerome said that, “To others grace was given in measure, but into Mary was poured the whole fullness.”  Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Spirit, the Blessed Virgin has a profoundly unique place in the Mystical Body.  She is the first and pre-eminent member of the Church, the model par excellence of faith, hope, and love for all Christians.  She is the mirror-image of the Church’s unfailing holiness as virgin-spouse of the Word.  This workshop looks at what God revealed to the Church about our Lady, and how those truths form us under her Motherhood as faithful disciples.

The Church is the Body of Christ on Earth. The Church Christ founded is His continued history on Earth. The graces entrusted to Her make possible an explosion of sanctity in the human family. The revelation of truth entrusted to Her makes possible our secure return to the Father’s arms. The mission entrusted to Her engages all human endeavors, and transcends all human failings, so that God’s Spirit can go forth to fulfill Christ’s promise to “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). This workshop will explore God’s magnificent convocation of souls that we call the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

Lay Pastoral Associate Certification Part III
Foundations

St. John Paul II tells us that, “Family catechesis . . . precedes, accompanies and enriches all other forms of catechesis” (Apostolic Exhortation “On Catechesis in Our Time,” Catechesi tradendae 68). These words challenge us to examine our thinking about how to pass on the Catholic faith within the parish 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 and family can work to bring about the well-formed and beautiful soul of each member.

 

Scripture

“The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life” (CCC 759).  A plan born in the Father’s heart: from the genesis of life itself, to the last prophet of the Jewish people, the grand sweep of salvation history is unfolded in the 46 books of the Old Testament.  The Covenants, the Commandments, and the promise of a Chosen One form the subject of this workshop, to give catechists a sense of the provident hand of God over our past, our present, and our eternal destiny.

 

“That which was from the beginning...that which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you...” (1 John 1:1, 4).  The New Testament is the completion of the story of how the Father prepared the world for His Son, and the beginning of the story of the Church, His Body, His Kingdom, His Bride, His Ark to save a People He calls His own.  This sweeping drama of truth, centered upon He is who is Truth, forms the message of the good news that catechists are privileged to offer to each generation of souls.

 

Method

Hidden within plain sight in every liturgy is the heart of catechesis – the mystery of Christ’s earthly vocation to return us to the Father’s loving embrace. A deeply Catholic catechesis seeks to uncover the profound meaning of the words, signs, and movements of worship to enlighten and enliven every truth we teach. Understanding the relationship between liturgy and catechesis is vital to forming souls – and to helping those we teach discover the peace and joy of their salvation.

Philosophy

Epistemology is the investigation of what we can know, and how we can know reality. It is the discovery of reality. This workshop applies epistemology to our Catholic faith, exploring the ways by which we use our ordinary human processes of knowing, as well as the supernatural gift of faith, to grow in knowledge and explore the beautiful mysteries of our faith, the central mystery being the Blessed Trinity. Here you will discover ways of becoming more confident teachers of the faith, handing on to your students the confidence that they can know and teach the faith with certainty.

Spiritual

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. “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” (General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) 139). “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” (GDC 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.

 

Doctrine

The Christian moral life finds its foundation in the Ten Commandments.  Yet they are often explained only as proscriptions or laws that have to be kept.  This workshop will present the Ten Commandments as prescriptions that profoundly inform and foster living life to its fullness.  Building on the foundation of the Commandments, Jesus gave us the model of how to live the reality of Heaven here on earth through the Beatitudes: a great challenge, but a reality each one of us is called to in God’s grace.  This workshop will discuss the blessed radicality of a life lived under the Commandments and the Beatitudes.

The Big Questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Where am I going? Unless one is sleepwalking through life, these are burningly urgent and profoundly relevant questions. How our loving God comes to us at our last breath can unfold so much about those critical questions. We’ll correct common myths about the “Four Last Things,” provide suggestions for teaching these amazing truths, and speak into the powerful curiosity we all have about crossing that final threshold.

“Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself” (CCC 1861).  Failure or fidelity; rejection or restoration.  Each soul lives in a battle.  And each soul is yearned for by a Father that loves beyond all telling.  This workshop explores the destructive reality of our freedom, and the sublime possibilities of a human striving under grace.

Pope Francis teaches us that, “Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. . . . Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in his love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good” (Encyclical Letter “On the Light of Faith,” Lumen fidei 51). In this workshop, we will be exploring how God wishes to form each and every one of us into the person He created us to be, through helping us love others and live for others, just as Christ Himself lived for us and loved us “to the end” (see John 13:1). Often misunderstood, the Church’s social teaching is not a partisan platform, an economic policy, or a political position, but rather is an integral part of proclaiming and living the Good News of Jesus Christ in community. We will present the social doctrines in this context and demonstrate how this aspect of Church teaching can help evangelize, console, and lovingly challenge us, as well as those we seek to teach.

The Lay Vocation
The Lay Vocation

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

Who am I? What is my nature? What has God created me for? Who has God created me for? The answers to these questions affect not only how I think about myself, but also how I think about those whom I catechize and how I encourage each of those whom I have the privilege of teaching to think about themselves. In this workshop we contemplate the unique answers that the Christian faith gives to these questions, answers that highlight the incredible dignity of every person. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Flowing from the workshop called, “The Human Person,” this workshop addresses three of the major components of the human person and their relevance to the unfolding of God’s plan of loving kindness: 1) our creation in the image of God and His call to transformation by grace into His likeness; 2) our creation as male and female; and 3) the unity of body and soul in the human person. As we learn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.” (CCC 357)  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

St. Paul gives us a fundamental apostolic exhortation: “Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens” – Ephesians 6:11-12.  With this, many questions arise in our human experience of demonic influences.  This workshop addresses the critical awareness of what you need to fight against Satan, and a clear calling to that great act us trust in a victory that will always rise higher than our fears, failings, and spiritual enemies: “Yours is the gigantic task of overcoming all evil with good, always trying amidst the problems of life to place your trust in God, knowing that his grace supplies strength to human weakness. You must oppose every form of hatred with the invincible power of Christ’s love.” – St. John Paul II

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

The Spousal Vocation
The Spousal Vocation

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

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

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

The ministry of catechesis and the ministry of spiritual formation are ordinarily somewhat separate in people’s understanding. Yet in the Church’s mind, they relate naturally and necessarily. “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” (General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) 139). “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” (GDC 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.

 

The Parental Vocation
The Parental Vocation

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

Recognizing that the future of the world and of the Church passes through the family, St. John Paul II exhorts the Christian family to “become what you are” in his document, "On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World," Familiaris consortio, paragraph 17. The Christian family is a community that lies at the heart of formation, education, and evangelization. This workshop walks us through this pastoral document from the saint who is often called the “Pope of the family,” examining the tasks facing the Christian family in both its natural and supernatural roles. It examines St. John Paul II’s teaching in Familiaris consortio, systematically exploring the tasks of the family that the Church, through St. John Paul II, has presented in the document. This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Catholic parenting is embattled in our modern world.  Often in our homes, good intentions contend with significant confusion about what a Catholic way of life looks like in the daily details.  Especially on one day – Sunday.  How does Mother Church guide us to a home life that is joyful, balanced, and peace-giving?  What does it look life for parents to claim that sacred ground for their family, defend it, and flourish within its blessings?

 

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

Mentor Formation
A Vision for Caring for Others Personally

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

Mentorship is integral to ministry in the Catholic Church, as well as to life in the home. In ministry we are privileged to be able to participate in the Blessed Trinity’s divine and loving mentorship of every soul. In His gracious plan of salvation, God, our heavenly Father provides for us to receive all the guidance we need for our journey to Him, for our everlasting homecoming. Through the sending of His own Son and Spirit, He not only teaches us the Way to Him but also gives Himself to us to be our companion on this royal highway. The Church, the Body of His Son, formed by the Spirit, mothers and mentors us on this journey, and it is within this Body that each of us who are also called into ministry — whether as ordained members, as parents, or as lay catechists and pastoral associates — exercise a mentorship for those whom we serve. Our ministry, then, is a participation in His mentorship. Our ministry is one of the ways in which God makes this generous provision of mentorship for others.

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. “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” (General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) 139). “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” (GDC 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 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.

 

Effectively Mentoring Others

An important part of being a mentor is getting to really know the person under your care. In this workshop, we explore various kinds of questions related to this work of discovery, and demonstrate which ones best accomplish the objective of authentically revealing that person’s thoughts and needs to productively and wisely build the mentoring relationship. Poor questions result in missed opportunities or weak rapport. Great questions truly serve to open up a soul and build strong mentorship. We especially emphasize the value of open-ended questions oriented toward drawing out a person’s life story.  This workshop's creation was made possible through a generous grant by the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

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.

St. Teresa of Calcutta stated that, “I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual.  I can only love one person at a time, just one, one, one. . . So you begin.  I began – I picked up one person.  Maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up forty-two thousand. . . The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community.  Just begin – one, one, one.”  All conversion is local.  Formation in the faith is always first and foremost God’s attentive presence to the individual.  From this principle arises the importance of mentorship, and for that guidance to be proximal and personal: a mentoring accompaniment.  This workshop encourages all those in any form of ministry to discover by experience the value of making the effort to be more personally available to people.

First Year Youth Ministry
Foundations

What is good youth ministry in today’s Church? Every ministry to young people needs to have a clear mission and purpose, rooted in the larger mission of the Church, and needs to be able to identify clear values in the way that ministry is carried out. In this workshop, we look specifically at the essential components to a vibrant, effective approach to parish ministry for young people.

“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.

“So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message, with power to drive out devils.” (Mark 3: 13-14) The theme of discipleship is strong in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' document called Renewing the Vision. This workshop looks at what discipleship entails and what it means to help teens be not just a follower of Christ, but a disciple of Christ. And through helping teens become disciples of Christ, we help them along this path of companionship with Christ both now and to eternity.

Culture and Context of Youth Ministry

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.

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” (Familiaris Consortio 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 their role is to provide support, empower, and partner with families.

What does it mean to serve in a diverse parish? Ethnic 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 multicultural reality that many youth programs experience so that all teens feel a part of the Body of Christ. In doing so, fostering a respect for the dignity of each person, and honoring the pivotal importance of family culture, become key highlights in any successful ministry approach.

Catechetical Formation of Adolescents

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

“The most effective catechetical programs for adolescents are integrated into a comprehensive program of pastoral ministry for youth…” (NDC p. 201).  The craft of passing on the faith is never a generic work. It is specifically attuned to those being drawn towards the Lord’s goodness. This workshop looks at the distinct features of adolescent catechesis as discussed by the National Catechetical Directory, with practical examples of how to utilize them in a youth ministry setting.

Understanding universal catechetical principles, such as the primacy of relational ministry, are important for every type of formation and outreach, yet these principles come to life in the context of each ministry’s unique demands. For youth ministry, though many elements of methodology are discussed in our other workshops, this workshop provides an opportunity to have specific questions answered about the ecclesial method applied to adolescents, retreat and semester planning, and effective ways to speak to groups of teens.

Second Year Youth Ministry
Foundations

How do we keep our focus on serving the Holy Spirit’s plan and empowerment, and not our own ways and human strength?  Pope Paul VI wrote, “techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit” (Evangelii Nuntandi 75).  No one responds to the gospel without first being drawn by the Holy Spirit, and no one can live the high calling of the Christian life without being empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we forget that outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores who the Holy Spirit is and His work in personal conversion and our accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.

Successful Catholic youth ministry in the Third Millennium will depend upon helping every young person experience a vibrant and lasting conversion. In Catholic youth ministry, two models of conversion have been contrasted: a purely evangelistic approach or a more catechetical approach. Taken in isolation, each model falls short. This workshop describes the stages that adolescents normally experience in moving from evangelization to catechesis, enabling teens to move deeper into the Mystery of Christ, and find the safety, solace, and strength that only the Holy Spirit enables in each soul.

“[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.

Culture and Context of Youth Ministry

“Go, therefore, to all nations…” (Matthew 28:18) With the Great Commission, Jesus told a bunch of Jewish men to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. The apostles had to learn how to preach the message to different cultures to make it effective. We must do the same to the culture of youth. “What matters is to evangelize man's culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 20). This workshop focuses on youth culture and effective ways of ministering to it.

Our people are key to the growth of our ministries. It is essential that they are being equipped to be leaders that will bring about growth far beyond the context of a single youth program or parochial setting. Ministry is not intended to be bounded by the existing parish population. In this workshop, we take a closer look at a strategy called spiritual multiplication. Fundamentally, this is an approach that involves intentionally building up leaders who have the capacity to build up other leaders who will do the same.

“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, whatever form it may take, 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.

“Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function: in the same way, all of us, though there are many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another” (Romans 12:5). We are not lone rangers, nor are we the lone Savior – we are one part of a Body in which interdependency is fundamental for our fidelity to God and success in serving others. This workshop looks at people who might work with us in ministry, as well as people for whom we are working: the Bishop, the pastor, and especially the parents.

Catechetical Formation of Adolescents

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 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.

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

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