Diocese of Fort Worth
Welcome to the Diocese of Fort Worth's landing page for Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Catechetical Institute!
This site will be developed in the near future with details on how your diocese wishes to make use of this collection of workshops.
We are so grateful and blessed that your diocese has chosen to partner with us in order to receive authentically Catholic resources that help to form those within your parish or school who are forming others. The catechists, RCIA teams, parish catechetical leaders, school teachers, and parents of your parish or school will have unlimited access to the Catechetical Institute’s online workshops in the comfort of their own homes.
The flexibility of the Catechetical Institute allows a diocese to choose the capacity in which to use these resources. Whether the diocese chooses to use the formation workshops as a part of the certification process or as on-going formation for their staff and volunteers, all the workshops available on our learning platform are available to every person.
The $300 subscription to the Catechetical Institute gives unlimited access to the members of your parish or school for an entire year. Whether your parish or school is made up of 25 or 2500 families, each individual can sign up for free under their parish or school at no additional cost.
If you have any questions, please contact us!
Franciscan University of Steubenville
1235 University Boulevard
Steubenville, Ohio 43952-1763
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
St. John Paul II tells us that, “Family catechesis... precedes, accompanies and enriches all other forms of catechesis” (CT 68). These words challenge us to examine our thinking about how to pass on the Catholic faith. The Catechism tells us that, “the family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom” (CCC 2207). Parents teach their children everything and it seems to never stop, regardless of age. The most important lesson parents must teach their children is what it means to be a Catholic. This workshop examines the mind and heart of the Church in regard to the primacy of the family in religious education, and discusses concrete ways to assist families in becoming the first and foremost catechists for their children.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
This workshop offers a summary outline of the basic principles of Catholic morality and how our moral life is rooted not merely in a code of ethics or a set of rules, but profoundly in the Person of Jesus. It discusses some of the major moral issues we face in our society today, and equips all who teach the faith — whether youth ministers, catechists, Catholic school teachers, and so on — with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking, both in themselves and in those to whom they minister.
Pope Francis teaches us that, “Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time . . . Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in His love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good” (Lumen Fidei 51). This workshop will introduce and explain what some authors have called the Church’s best kept secret: the Catholic Social Tradition. Often misunderstood, the Church’s social teaching is not a partisan platform, an economic policy, or a political position, but rather an integral part of proclaiming and living the good news of Jesus Christ. We will present the social gospel in this context and demonstrate how this aspect of Church teaching can help evangelize, console, and lovingly challenge those you seek to teach.
What is our purpose and goal as ministers in the Church in an RCIA process? To make new Catholics? To spread the Gospel? To run a good process? Our purpose and goal must transcend the “how” of RCIA and begin with the “why.” The restoration of the catechumenal process is a reflection of the Church’s wisdom in going back to a tried and true practice in order to lovingly bring people into her fold. It is a restoration of grace for those who are seeking Christ and his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. This workshop inaugurates the necessary vision to develop excellent parish-based RCIA ministry, beginning with a call to trust the wisdom of Holy Mother Church in her discernment to gift the modern world with a way of Christian Initiation unparalleled in its beauty and power. Only in the light of this trust and deep understanding of the RCIA process, as the Church intends it to be implemented, does the full purpose and potential of the initiation journey become clear and attainable.
It is into the great mystery of the Father’s saving love through Christ Jesus that all believers are called. And it is this great mystery that all the institutions of the Church, each and every one of them, exist to serve. The RCIA has no other purpose than the service of the holy mystery, the saving sacrament, of Christ present and active in His living Body. The renewal of the process of Christian initiation stands as one of the most important and successful features of modern liturgical renewal. Since its promulgation in 1972 and its further elaboration under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has been among the most pastorally effective features of Catholic life in the United States. And yet all is not well. The very fact that the challenge is conversion, the conforming of imperfect men and women to Christ, means that the process will never be perfect. Initiation is, after all, the beginning of a process which has its ending in eternity. However, there are problems that are more concrete and, for that reason, can more readily be corrected. In general, three models of RCIA are operative today in most Catholic parishes using the Rite. Each of the models conceives of, and practices, Christian initiation differently. This workshop describes these models, discussing their strengths and weaknesses in terms of catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral dimensions. The result is clarity on how best the RCIA can serve the great work of immersing participants into Catholicism through a process of learning and interiorizing the sacred Scriptures, doctrines, sacraments, prayers, moral traditions, spiritual readings and rich communal culture of the Catholic Church, in order to serve the Father’s provident love in calling each soul to the living Body of Christ on earth.
From the ancient Nicene Creed we proclaim that “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.” The mystery of the second Person of the Trinity is the God who comes to us to save, redeem, instruct, give us hope and lead us to our promised glory. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We do not have a God who is distant, but a God who comes to us in the most intimate way. We enter into the mystery of Christ through a living Word, transforming sacramental grace, evangelizing catechesis, and evangelical communities. This workshop will explore how a rich understanding of the means by which souls enter into Christ’s life can be fostered in our approaches to ministry. “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us” to call each soul to God’s loving plan and sure hope in Christ. This talk describes the means to participate in that life.
“. . . [T]he liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows” (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium 10). The liturgy proclaims, celebrates, and actualizes the Father’s loving plan for His people. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), or catechumenal process, has three aspects: liturgical, catechetical, and pastoral, of which liturgical is prime. The Church has designed these aspects to promote deep, long-lasting conversion to Christ and a love for the Church. This workshop will focus on the stages of the modern catechumenal process, which derives directly from the ancient order of catechumens, and the way liturgical graces build and crescendo through the four periods of the RCIA process to make possible the plan of goodness born in the Father’s heart for each believer.
“That which was from the beginning . . . that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” (1 John 1:1, 3). St. John Paul II proclaimed that, “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ . . .” (Catechesi tradendae 5). The work of catechesis is not just “education,” but “intimacy with Jesus Christ.” God wants to make Himself known, to communicate His own divine life to us and make us capable of responding to Him. God gradually “pulls back the veil” (See 2 Corinthians 3:14–16) by words and deeds, but especially in Jesus Christ, the Mediator and fullness of all Revelation. By His Revelation, God has answered all the questions of the human condition. God wants all to be saved, so He arranged that His Revelation remain in its entirety and be transmitted to all generations. This workshop focuses on the apostolic work of passing on the truths of the faith in an organic and systematic way. This is done to make disciples of Christ and to initiate them into the fullness of Christian life through an encounter with the communion of believers and with Christ the teacher. “‘The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 25).
This workshop explores adult catechesis within the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) baptismal catechumenate. Each period of the RCIA process has a distinctive catechetical objective in serving the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion, and so each period of the RCIA will have a different “feel” catechetically. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults itself gives us the guidelines for what participants need to know, and what we need to teach, thereby allowing the catechetical aspect of Christian initiation to become teaching in the service of leading others into the Father’s eternal embrace, a love beyond all telling.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux joyfully exulted that, “‘If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE — IT'S ETERNAL!’” (quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 826, emphasis in the original). We know that this love is the golden thread that binds all we believe, this love which has God as its source and which we know as the theological virtue of charity. It is the love of God that gives us truth to speak in gentleness and clarity, and life-giving concern to reach out sacrificially to all those souls around us. It is the love that makes us adopted sons and daughters. It is our beginning and our gifted destiny. This workshop delves into the vital nature of the love of brethren — the virtue of charity that helps us to love God first and love our neighbors as ourselves — that is to be the mark of any community calling others to join Christ’s Body.
The pastoral aspect of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) signifies the means by which we form and accompany souls, person-to-person, to a deeper relationship with the Trinity through the Body of Christ. Many who do not stay with the Church after going through the RCIA process leave not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of care. The pastoral components are the people who participate, some intimately and others from a distance, in Jesus’ graced work of conversion and discipleship of souls. It is the surpassing calling of becoming a gift to other souls, and receiving others freely as a gift from the Lord. This workshop addresses how the pastoral aspect of the RCIA process leads us to be sacrificial witnesses — the Lord’s chosen means to authenticate faith and relationship with the Trinity, to support conversion in lives, and through God’s saving message draw all people into the loving embrace of the Father and His People.
The goal of the Christian Initiation process is to bring souls into the Mystery of Christ and so share in His divine life. Intimacy with Jesus takes place above all in the Church’s liturgy, where He is present and the grace which flows from His saving work is made available to those who would receive it. The road to initiation in all believers is singularly paschal in nature, and it is ultimately in the sacred liturgy that we experience and are reminded of all God’s blessings from creation to the cross to our recreation in sacramental grace. God initiates and we respond, and will until Jesus comes again. Insertion into this mystery of Christ, participation in the sacramental economy, requires us to live our lives as we were created, as liturgical people. Our life is liturgy. How we move others toward that same understanding requires creativity and humility and cooperation with the Holy Spirit. This workshop will provide participants with an understanding of the power of the liturgy so that they can in turn help those in the catechumenal process to encounter Christ.
The RCIA Rites Book is the guiding light from the Magisterium for the entire RCIA process. In this workshop the Rites Book will be discussed in detail, pointing out the keys to all aspects of the RCIA process. It is vital that this liturgical document be understood by RCIA leaders, pastors, and other involved in forming those who seek to enter Holy Mother Church. This text not only lays out liturgical prayers and rubrics, but also provides essential pastoral and catechetical guidelines, without which a parish RCIA process is very likely to fail to develop or operate as the Church intends, and will thereby poorly serve the souls that approach our altars.
"No methodology, no matter how well tested, can dispense with the person of the catechist in every phase of the catechetical process. The charism given to him by the Spirit, a solid spirituality and transparent witness of life, constitutes the soul of every method" (GDC 156). This workshop discusses the surpassing importance of the catechist as a witness and how to wisely and effectively incorporate witnessing into the work of formation. To the degree this understanding is poorly understood by catechists, is the degree to which their efforts will fall on deaf ears in our secular culture, as Pope St. Paul VI reminds us: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (EN 41).
The RCIA team is an essential element in an effective RCIA process, and is often the first real “Catholic community” many RCIA participants encounter. The members of a well-formed RCIA team play a fundamental role in fostering the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion through their personal witness to the practice of the faith and their commitment to entering into authentic relationships with those considering entering Holy Mother Church. They support and model and most of all they love. This workshop delves into how to find, form, and faithfully lead a team that can help create a strong environment for conversion. There is also a follow-up workshop that goes even deeper into this critical pastoral element.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thess 2:8). The role of sponsor or godparent in the RCIA process is intended by the Church to be a life-long task. It is a work of grace that is certainly challenging and demanding, but also extremely rewarding. The RCIA process calls for godparents and sponsors to be part of each participant’s journey into the Catholic Church. Who is appropriate for this role? How can you find and train them well? What does Canon Law require? Good sponsor/godparent choices can help the whole RCIA process become effectively attuned to each individual being served, while imprudent choices can affect everyone involved. Learn the keys to making this pastoral element decisive in the overall work of conversion.
RCIA is conceived of by Holy Mother Church as a collaborative work, under the leadership of our clerical shepherds. The ritual book specifically describes catechists and other members of the laity as individuals who “work with priests and deacons” (RCIA 7). This phrase recognizes the mutual dependence of the clergy and laity upon each other; it does not offer an option for either clergy or laity to “go it alone.” The most noticeable areas of collaboration described in the ritual book are in catechesis and discernment, extending, for example, from sponsors/godparents up to the bishop of the diocese in the chain of accountability that unfolds in the Rite of Election. This workshop explores these complementary roles through the RCIA process. Only when every role is fulfilled does the Christian initiation process properly accomplish its part in the exalted mission of evangelizing and initiating adults into the mystery of Christ and the communion of the Catholic Church.
[The catechumenate] is not a mere exposition of dogmatic truths and norms for morality, but a period of formation in the whole Christian life, an apprenticeship of sufficient duration, during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher” (AG 14). In the Church’s wisdom, this apprenticeship demands a careful process of mutual discernment that extends through the RCIA process and reaches specific points of inquiry as each of the major liturgical rites approach. Participants need to be aided to examine and re-examine their genuine desire to become truly Christian adherents, truly the Lord’s, fully in the Church, and what that practically means in their lives. For her part, the Church, as represented by the pastor and RCIA leadership, must also be certain that this decision is appropriately considered and not premature. This workshop examines the RCIA Rites Book’s specific assistance in this regard, offering clear guidance about how this discernment should proceed.
“From evangelization, completed with the help of God, come the faith and initial conversion that cause a person to feel called away from sin and drawn into the mystery of God’s love. The whole period of the precatechumenate is set aside for this evangelization, so that the genuine will to follow Christ and seek Baptism may mature” (RCIA 37). Being first, this period of the RCIA process is critical, since so much must be built upon it in subsequent periods to serve the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion. What does an effective precatechumenate consist of in consideration of the liturgical, catechetical, and pastoral aspects of the RCIA process? This workshop explores the necessary elements that make this period a graced invitation to a love beyond all telling.
“The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope, or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love” (CCC 25). This longest period of the RCIA process rests on the foundation of an effective precatechumenate. This workshop unpacks the Church’s call in this period: to lead participants to the Catholic life of believing, hoping, and loving – a deep encounter with God’s radical generosity and mercy, found in the light of truth and the love of a community of faith.
Before RCIA participants receive the sacraments of initiation: “...the elect must have the intention of achieving an intimate knowledge of Christ and his Church, and they are expected particularly to progress in genuine self-knowledge through serious examination of their lives and true repentance” (RCIA 142). This workshop provides the Church’s pattern for the period of immediate preparation prior to sacramental initiation. This is not a period in which to teach new doctrines; it is a period for a new depth of encounter. It is a time to inform and develop the life of prayer, the call to holiness, the sense of repentance, the yearning for healing graces, the anticipation of Jesus’ saving embrace in His sacraments. With its unique liturgies and spiritual focus, this period is a time of retreat, making straight the way of Lord to come anew to hearts well prepared for His coming.
“The distinctive spirit and power of the period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy derive from the new, personal experience of the sacraments and of the community” (RCIA 247). The time between Easter and Pentecost is spent in expanding the understanding and appreciation for the sacramental life – to stoke an authentic pursuit of sainthood in new Catholic hearts. In this period of the RCIA process, the deepest meaning of discipleship must be examined, leading to a greater trust, a firmer hope, a more generous love, and the call to mission – to give to others the treasure that has been so freely given.
How do we, as parish and as an RCIA team, prepare inquirers for the momentous commitment to become one of the Church’s own? Apart from the sacraments of initiation, the first major liturgical gateway is the most significant one for both catechumens and candidates. The ritual book emphatically states that the “Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens is of the utmost importance” because these individuals are, “assembling publicly for the first time [to] declare their intention to the Church and the Church in turn, carrying out its apostolic mission, accepts them as persons who intend to become its members” (RCIA 41). Inquirers should not go through this Rite unless they have a desire to learn and live the Catholic way of life, and know the essence of what they are choosing. For her part, the Church, as represented by the pastor and RCIA leadership, must also be certain that this decision is appropriate and not premature, that these inquirers intend to become Catholics. This workshop helps parishes to understand the careful pastoral work that leads to this place of decision.
As Lent approaches, so does a major liturgical gateway: the Rites of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. As the period preceding this gateway draws to a close, participants should “have undergone a conversion in mind and in action and to have developed a sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching as well as a spirit of faith and charity” (RCIA 120). RCIA participants should have become increasingly involved with the local community, which can wholeheartedly acclaim their readiness because it knows them. This workshop unfolds the elements of pastoral care leading to a deepened conversion, mature discernment, and God-willing, an encounter with the apostolic shepherd of the diocese calling each soul forward to the sacraments of new life.
Of course, the story of the RCIA team and parish community’s role in the Christian initiation process does not stop after the candles of the Easter Vigil have been extinguished. Each child who arrives in a family changes it forever, and these Catholics, who have become a “new creation” (Gal 6:15) in the Spirit, change the parish family into which they have been born or received. From the decision to receive the sacraments of initiation through the first year as a Catholic there are many challenges. The role of the parish, the clergy, the RCIA team, the godparents and sponsors during this crucial time will be examined in this workshop. Special attention will be paid to stemming the tide of recidivism.
While “Parish Catechetical Leader” can mean virtually anything in a given parish, there are specific skills that are particulary 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.”
“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.
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.
Pope Paul VI proclaimed the single deepest need of any culture of life: “At different moments in the Church’s history and also in the Second Vatican Council, the family has well deserved the beautiful name of ‘domestic Church.’ This means that there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church. Furthermore, the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms a part” (EN 71). What does a parent as primary educator look like? This workshop considers the apostolic call upon parents inherent upon the Baptism of their children, examine its practical implications and suggest applications for those who direct or teach in religious education programs. When parents have their children baptized, they promise to raise them in the Catholic faith. This has always been a very challenging task, but in today’s society it is even more difficult because of the complexities of family life. This workshop explores our culture and its values, and how we as Church can affirm and support parents in their role.
This workshop, designed for Parish Catechetical Leaders seeking to plan for and implement successful parish faith formation programs, discusses how the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults’ (RCIA) baptismal catechumenate format actually serves as a helpful model for doing so. This may be surprising, but the format of the RCIA baptismal catechumenate is actually modeled by Jesus in His encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35), and since then has been followed by the Church to form disciples. The presenter precedes this teaching on the RCIA baptismal catechumenate with the 1997 General Directory for Catechesis’ (GDC) key conditions that need to be present in the parish before beginning and concludes with ways to assess faith formation programs. Let's explore this method of applying the RCIA baptismal catechumenate to our parish formation programs in order to best foster conversion and form disciples of our Lord Jesus, to make saints!
Christ our Lord had wonderful times with his apostolic band – “You are my friends” (John 15:13) – and tough times as well – “How much longer must I be among you and put up with you!” (Luke 9:41). The volunteer catechists we have the privilege of serving alongside of and leading in ministry merit our best efforts in training and equipping them for the ministry to which they are called. This highly practical pair of workshops examines the type of person who volunteers to be a catechist, reasons for volunteering, where to find volunteer catechists, screening prospects, the dynamics of working together in a parish program, addressing problem situations which may arise among or with catechists. We offers specific practical strategies for forming and training catechists in four critical areas: human, spiritual, doctrinal and apostolic. The aim of this pair of workshops is to place integral formation of people at the top of the list of priorities of a parish catechetical leader, to make possible a successful sharing of outreach to any age in every parish.
Christ our Lord had wonderful times with his apostolic band – “You are my friends” (John 15:14) – 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 offer 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 our calling to guide souls in their relationship with the Blessed Trinity, we have the assistance of a powerful tool: the religion textbook! Religion textbooks play an undeniably important role in the Church’s mandate to foster a faith that is “living, conscious, and active” (see the General Catechetical Directory (GCD) 17). This workshop explores the purpose and best use of textbooks within catechesis, and assists participants in developing criteria for textbook selection while examining various materials currently in use for schools and parish programs. Ways to include the parents or caregivers, who are the “primary educators” (see General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) 226–227) of children, will be explored. We will also be challenging the dominance of the textbook in religious education, and the need to develop formation approaches that prioritize the person of the catechist above all: “The work of the catechist must be considered of greater importance than the selection of texts and other tools” (GCD 71).
Called to Him. Kept in Him. Made new in Him. God’s generosity and His fatherly love for His young daughters and sons are strikingly evident in the gift of these two sacraments to those newly arrived at the age of reason. This workshop unfolds the Church’s guidance for parents and parishes in preparing souls for Confession and Communion. By considering the role of both the home and the parochial settings, a balanced and effective formation can be achieved. This pragmatic workshop also addresses common struggles and cultural issues that Catholic communities face in developing responsible and robust approaches to helping young souls be open to grace.
Effectively Confirming. What the bishop gives sacramentally is always efficacious. How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture so that what we give in our parishes and schools catechetically is also reliably effective? How do we not only provide a program, but also a conversion process, so that participants do not experience the catechesis we give as a series of required hoops to jump through, but revelatory hope? This workshop aims to explore some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries. It includes insights from Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium, as well as examines current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the sacraments of Christian initiation.
As PCL’s, we are responsible for program development, implementation, and evaluation as well as many other facets of faith formation. The safety and care of the parish’s children, teens, and adults is paramount, as is the welfare of those we lead. A PCL needs to anticipate issues that could arise and develop proactive approaches. This workshop will clarify legal issues and describe our lawful responsibilities in the administration of catechetical programs.
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 second part of this topic area, we will continue to 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.
Most parishes have very intentional forms of outreach to children: days schools, youth groups, Vacation Bible School, sports programs, etc. Far fewer have well-designed, well-supported, and diverse forms of outreach to adults. Even rarer are parishes that make a priority of hiring people or recruiting and training volunteers whose specific calling and skills are the evangelization and catechesis of adults. Yet St. John Paul II emphasized that, “One of the constant concerns whose urgency is confirmed by present day experience throughout the world, is the catechesis of adults. This is the principal form of catechesis because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibility and the capacity to live the Christian message added later in its fully developed form” (CT 43). This workshop heeds that call, and offers practical ways forward for parish ministries, both to identify the great needs that exist in every community, and the pastoral sensitivities required to meet those needs.
The Church has always looked on catechesis as a “sacred duty and an inalienable right” that needs to be available to all people (CT 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.
The General Directory for Catechesis notes that, “Given that the missio ad gentes is the paradigm of all the Church's missionary activity, the baptismal catechumenate, which is joined to it, is the model of its catechizing activity” (GDC 90). Many people who read this statement are curious why Mother Church urges those who teach the faith to see the catechumenate (the RCIA process) as a model for all forms of catechesis. Sometimes this is because the Church’s vision for RCIA itself is misunderstood or poorly applied, resulting in a program hardly worthy of imitation! Sometimes people simply have not been helped to see that the mission of all catechesis is conversion, not just the goal of an initiation process. This workshop makes clear what the catechumenal model actually is, and then offers practical guidance on how all forms of catechesis can become more effective and centered on the mission of the Church through its creative application.
“A school has as its purpose the students’ integral formation…. A Christian formation process might therefore be described as an organic set of elements with a single purpose: the gradual development of every capability of every student… But what really matters is not the terminology but the reality, and this reality will be assured only if all the teachers unite their educational efforts in the pursuit of a common goal” (Religious Dimensions of Education in a Catholic School, 70, 99). This workshop will explain fundamental principles for assuring a full proclamation of the faith across a school-wide religious education program. This workshop will examine the organic unity of the faith that is the foundation for all teaching, and finds critical relevance in every subject, and in every educator’s personal witness.
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.
While not the most glamorous of jobs, the task of maintaining smoothly running parish formation programs can free the mind and lighten the heart of the catechetical leader so that he or she can focus on the more eternal calling of leading others to Jesus. This session will address these important "non-glamorous" elements of program that all ministry leaders must master.
Working for and with God’s people is like no other job on earth. There are responsibilities of a PCL’s profession that distinguish it from those in the secular world, but there are also many things that remain universal. This workshop will explore various types of relationships in the parish community, what complexities arise for relationships with staff and volunteers, the unique elements of working successfully and serving with priests, and a myriad of best practices in being the generous, wise, and faithful servant leader all PCL’s are called to be. Being able to handle these practical realities is a necessary skill in the effort to facilitate, instead of impede, the work of the Holy Spirit in the parish.
Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. 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, protect our children, teens, adults, our catechists, and ourselves, and promote a professionalism in ministry that is responsible and appropriate to any institution where the work of Lord is presumed to be given our very best in all regards.
Grace and revelation are all-sufficient – the Gospel will meet every human longing, the Gospel can penetrate any culture, any community, the Gospel is forever personal – Lover to beloved. These articles of faith must be accompanied by a witness to that faith, and an environment devoted to encouraging hearts and minds to be open, to be hungry, to be expectant. What are the characteristics of a classroom where that can occur? This workshop explores that vital question in depth.
Increasingly our communities, and the parishes that serve them, are a mosaic of ethnicities and languages. St. John Paul II noted that, “the power of the Gospel everywhere transforms and regenerates. When that power enters into a culture, it is no surprise that it rectifies many of its elements. There would be no catechesis if it were the Gospel that had to change when it came into contact with the cultures. To forget this would simply amount to what St. Paul very forcefully calls “emptying the cross of Christ of its power.” It is a different matter to take, with wise discernment, certain elements, religious or otherwise, that form part of the cultural heritage of a human group and use them to help its members to understand better the whole of the Christian mystery” (CT 53). This workshop addresses the challenges and opportunities of the Church’s work of inculturation, specifically focusing on situations where parish communities are serving souls from a diversity of backgrounds and cultural experiences.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“The heart of catechesis is the explicit proposal of Christ to the young man in the Gospel; it is a direct proposal to all young people in terms appropriate to young people, and with considered understanding of their problems” (GDC 183). This practical workshop helps youth ministers and all those who seek to reach teens with God’s love, especially parents, to understand the psychological make-up of today’s teens. The goal is to help a young person at this stage of life obtain a holistic picture of the role adolescence plays in the process of development of an emotionally and morally integrated Christian, which even in these transitional years can enable a path to spiritual peace and joy.
“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.
“The ministry of Pastoral Care involves promoting positive adolescent and family development through a variety of positive (preventive) strategies; caring for adolescents and families in crisis through support, counseling, and referral to appropriate community agencies; providing guidance as young people face life decisions and make moral choices; and challenging systems that are obstacles to positive development” (Renewing the Vision, p. 42). This workshop explores the role a youth program should play in the development of adolescents’ identity through faith, and in the development of self-esteem based on real qualities of character. It also gives a myriad of suggestions on how to obtain “hands-on” information about typical crisis situations in the life of an adolescent, as well as about necessary pastoral and professional interventions.
“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.
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.
This workshop gives an overview of St. John Paul II’s magnificent “Theology of the Body” as a foundational Christian anthropology, while also showing its implications for sexuality, morality, and youth ministry. It explores excellent activities, assignments, and resources to use in the ministry situations. Participants in this workshop will ultimately learn ways of using the Theology of the Body to address some of the greatest concerns of today’s teenagers.