Franciscan at Home

Online learning at your convenience

Diocese of Venice 

Learning Tracks

Basic Certificate in Catechesis
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.

“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.

 

Doctrine

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.”

 

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.

 

Methodology

“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.

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.

Morality

In the context of youth ministry, 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 the major moral issues teens face today, and equip youth ministers with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking.

Sacraments

“Are you saved?”  This well intentioned and vitally important question, often asked by our separated brothers and sisters, has left many a Catholic struggling for a good answer.  Yet consider another question: “How are you saved?”  That question is answered by the uniquely Catholic doctrine of the Sacramental Economy.  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” (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.

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.  What parishes give catechetically isn’t always so reliably effective.  How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture?  How do we move from a program to a conversion process, from required hoops to revelatory hope?  Find out some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries.  This workshop will include insights from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, as well as examine current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation.

Intermediate Certificate in Catechesis
Prayer

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

 

“Jesus 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.

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.

 

Methodology II

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.

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.

 

Doctrine II

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.

“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.

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.

Philosophy

What is?  Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.  It is the discovery of reality.  This workshop explores key philosophical understanding that undergird critical truths of our faith:  the reality of absolute truth, the ability to know God with certainty, the existence of human purpose and true moral goods.

Culture

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.

So much confusion.  So much misunderstanding.  And so much potential for conversion!  In a letter to the Director of the Vatican Observatory, St. John Paul II eloquently noted that, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.  Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.”  This workshop, taught by a scientist, urges those engaged in catechesis to abandon apprehension of this arena of study.  God is the Author of both the physical and moral laws, of solar systems and souls.  In a balanced view of creation and our exploration of its mysteries, faithful Catholics need not fear the outcome, and can expect that the “good news” of our Savior will instead be deepened and enriched.

Advanced Certificate in Catechesis
Ethics

Ack!  Another NFP question from someone in RCIA/Adult Faith Formation class/returning Catholic/lady at the park!  Whatever will I say in response!?!  If you’ve ever had that thought fly into your head, this workshop will help!  Our culture believes that contraception is one of the greatest inventions of the late twentieth century.  Promoters of contraception argued that it would decrease unwed pregnancy and abortion and improve marriages.  Yet the evidence is overwhelming pointing the other direction.  The Church’s partnership with good science and good ethics is on display in this workshop, to assist catechists in being well-informed and secure enough to gently, clearly, and confidently share this aspect of the good news.

 

Our calling; our passions – so often at war it seems, especially under the influence of an increasingly confused and self-indulgent culture.  The results are not solely theoretical or philosophical, but also lead to many degradations of human dignity, and a society ever-more blind to the Church’s beautiful vision of openness to life.  This workshop, taught by a scientist, aims to help priests, parents, and catechists grasp the striking scope and logic of God’s revelation written into our bodies and our human desires for relationship.  It is a vision that unites our innate passions and eternal calling.

Methodology III

“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.

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.

 

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.

 

Doctrine III

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 youth outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores the work of the Holy Spirit in personal conversion and in accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.

“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, grows in faith, and loses 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.

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.

Philosophy II

People want to know – from the 1st grader’s question, “Did dinosaurs eat people?” to that of the curious adult, “How do we reconcile Darwin’s theory with Catholic teaching?”  Many priests, parents, and catechists feel entirely disarmed by such questions, because they call us to land a reasonable and responsible explanation somewhere between the extremes of fundamentalists Christians and atheistic spins on evolution.  What does the Church teach here?  This workshop, taught by a scientist, offers clarity on the facts and excellent guidance on the challenges of doing good catechesis on this important topic.

This workshop sharpens a few of your philosophical tools for teaching the faith.  We begin with a review of what philosophy is, why catechists need it, and ways that theologians use it.  Philosophy, far from putting our lessons out of reach of our audience, actually appeals to our disciples’ reason; 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 this philosophical approach to catechetical topics, and explore how our understanding of the distinction between nature and person helps us prepare our disciples to answer Jesus’ crucial question to His apostles, and to each one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Saints

What is possible in a child’s soul?  What is possible in your child’s soul?  God’s gift of sanctity is not based in our degree or education, our social status, our natural giftedness, our intelligence, or even our age.  So, what is our ability to become holy based on?  Exploring the lives of saints that are children and teens points the way to an answer that should dramatically shape our parenting as well as our formation of children in parish programs.  And shape your hope for the young souls in our modern culture.

 

Basic Certificate in Youth Ministry
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.

“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.

 

Doctrine

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.”

 

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.

 

Methodology

“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.

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. The U.S. Bishops have provided a guiding vision to Catholic youth ministry in their Renewing the Vision document. In this workshop, we unpack that key document and looking specifically at the essential components to a vibrant, effective approach to parish ministry for young people.

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.

Morality

In the context of youth ministry, 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 the major moral issues teens face today, and equip youth ministers with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking.

Sacraments

“Are you saved?”  This well intentioned and vitally important question, often asked by our separated brothers and sisters, has left many a Catholic struggling for a good answer.  Yet consider another question: “How are you saved?”  That question is answered by the uniquely Catholic doctrine of the Sacramental Economy.  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” (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.

Effectively Confirming.  What the bishop gives sacramentally is always efficacious.  What parishes give catechetically isn’t always so reliably effective.  How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture?  How do we move from a program to a conversion process, from required hoops to revelatory hope?  Find out some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries.  This workshop will include insights from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, as well as examine current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation.

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.

Intermediate Certificate in Youth Ministry
Prayer

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

 

“Jesus 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.

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.

 

Methodology II

“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.

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.

 

Doctrine II

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.

“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.

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.

Philosophy

What is?  Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.  It is the discovery of reality.  This workshop explores key philosophical understanding that undergird critical truths of our faith:  the reality of absolute truth, the ability to know God with certainty, the existence of human purpose and true moral goods.

Culture

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.

So much confusion.  So much misunderstanding.  And so much potential for conversion!  In a letter to the Director of the Vatican Observatory, St. John Paul II eloquently noted that, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.  Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.”  This workshop, taught by a scientist, urges those engaged in catechesis to abandon apprehension of this arena of study.  God is the Author of both the physical and moral laws, of solar systems and souls.  In a balanced view of creation and our exploration of its mysteries, faithful Catholics need not fear the outcome, and can expect that the “good news” of our Savior will instead be deepened and enriched.

Advanced Certificate in Youth Ministry
Ethics

Ack!  Another NFP question from someone in RCIA/Adult Faith Formation class/returning Catholic/lady at the park!  Whatever will I say in response!?!  If you’ve ever had that thought fly into your head, this workshop will help!  Our culture believes that contraception is one of the greatest inventions of the late twentieth century.  Promoters of contraception argued that it would decrease unwed pregnancy and abortion and improve marriages.  Yet the evidence is overwhelming pointing the other direction.  The Church’s partnership with good science and good ethics is on display in this workshop, to assist catechists in being well-informed and secure enough to gently, clearly, and confidently share this aspect of the good news.

 

Our calling; our passions – so often at war it seems, especially under the influence of an increasingly confused and self-indulgent culture.  The results are not solely theoretical or philosophical, but also lead to many degradations of human dignity, and a society ever-more blind to the Church’s beautiful vision of openness to life.  This workshop, taught by a scientist, aims to help priests, parents, and catechists grasp the striking scope and logic of God’s revelation written into our bodies and our human desires for relationship.  It is a vision that unites our innate passions and eternal calling.

Methodology III

“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.

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.

 

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.

 

Doctrine III

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 youth outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores the work of the Holy Spirit in personal conversion and in accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.

“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, grows in faith, and loses 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.

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.

Philosophy II

People want to know – from the 1st grader’s question, “Did dinosaurs eat people?” to that of the curious adult, “How do we reconcile Darwin’s theory with Catholic teaching?”  Many priests, parents, and catechists feel entirely disarmed by such questions, because they call us to land a reasonable and responsible explanation somewhere between the extremes of fundamentalists Christians and atheistic spins on evolution.  What does the Church teach here?  This workshop, taught by a scientist, offers clarity on the facts and excellent guidance on the challenges of doing good catechesis on this important topic.

This workshop sharpens a few of your philosophical tools for teaching the faith.  We begin with a review of what philosophy is, why catechists need it, and ways that theologians use it.  Philosophy, far from putting our lessons out of reach of our audience, actually appeals to our disciples’ reason; 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 this philosophical approach to catechetical topics, and explore how our understanding of the distinction between nature and person helps us prepare our disciples to answer Jesus’ crucial question to His apostles, and to each one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Saints

What is possible in a child’s soul?  What is possible in your child’s soul?  God’s gift of sanctity is not based in our degree or education, our social status, our natural giftedness, our intelligence, or even our age.  So, what is our ability to become holy based on?  Exploring the lives of saints that are children and teens points the way to an answer that should dramatically shape our parenting as well as our formation of children in parish programs.  And shape your hope for the young souls in our modern culture.

 

Basic Certificate in Adult Faith Formation
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.

“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.

 

Doctrine

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.”

 

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.

 

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.

Methodology

“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 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.

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.

Morality

In the context of youth ministry, 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 the major moral issues teens face today, and equip youth ministers with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking.

Sacraments

“Are you saved?”  This well intentioned and vitally important question, often asked by our separated brothers and sisters, has left many a Catholic struggling for a good answer.  Yet consider another question: “How are you saved?”  That question is answered by the uniquely Catholic doctrine of the Sacramental Economy.  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” (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.

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.

Intermediate Certificate in Adult Faith Formation
Prayer

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

 

“Jesus 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.

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.

 

Methodology II

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.

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.

 

Doctrine II

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.

“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.

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.

Philosophy

What is?  Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.  It is the discovery of reality.  This workshop explores key philosophical understanding that undergird critical truths of our faith:  the reality of absolute truth, the ability to know God with certainty, the existence of human purpose and true moral goods.

Culture

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.

So much confusion.  So much misunderstanding.  And so much potential for conversion!  In a letter to the Director of the Vatican Observatory, St. John Paul II eloquently noted that, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.  Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.”  This workshop, taught by a scientist, urges those engaged in catechesis to abandon apprehension of this arena of study.  God is the Author of both the physical and moral laws, of solar systems and souls.  In a balanced view of creation and our exploration of its mysteries, faithful Catholics need not fear the outcome, and can expect that the “good news” of our Savior will instead be deepened and enriched.

Advanced Certificate in Adult Faith Formation
Ethics

Ack!  Another NFP question from someone in RCIA/Adult Faith Formation class/returning Catholic/lady at the park!  Whatever will I say in response!?!  If you’ve ever had that thought fly into your head, this workshop will help!  Our culture believes that contraception is one of the greatest inventions of the late twentieth century.  Promoters of contraception argued that it would decrease unwed pregnancy and abortion and improve marriages.  Yet the evidence is overwhelming pointing the other direction.  The Church’s partnership with good science and good ethics is on display in this workshop, to assist catechists in being well-informed and secure enough to gently, clearly, and confidently share this aspect of the good news.

 

Our calling; our passions – so often at war it seems, especially under the influence of an increasingly confused and self-indulgent culture.  The results are not solely theoretical or philosophical, but also lead to many degradations of human dignity, and a society ever-more blind to the Church’s beautiful vision of openness to life.  This workshop, taught by a scientist, aims to help priests, parents, and catechists grasp the striking scope and logic of God’s revelation written into our bodies and our human desires for relationship.  It is a vision that unites our innate passions and eternal calling.

Methodology III

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Doctrine III

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 youth outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores the work of the Holy Spirit in personal conversion and in accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.

“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, grows in faith, and loses 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.

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.

Philosophy II

People want to know – from the 1st grader’s question, “Did dinosaurs eat people?” to that of the curious adult, “How do we reconcile Darwin’s theory with Catholic teaching?”  Many priests, parents, and catechists feel entirely disarmed by such questions, because they call us to land a reasonable and responsible explanation somewhere between the extremes of fundamentalists Christians and atheistic spins on evolution.  What does the Church teach here?  This workshop, taught by a scientist, offers clarity on the facts and excellent guidance on the challenges of doing good catechesis on this important topic.

This workshop sharpens a few of your philosophical tools for teaching the faith.  We begin with a review of what philosophy is, why catechists need it, and ways that theologians use it.  Philosophy, far from putting our lessons out of reach of our audience, actually appeals to our disciples’ reason; 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 this philosophical approach to catechetical topics, and explore how our understanding of the distinction between nature and person helps us prepare our disciples to answer Jesus’ crucial question to His apostles, and to each one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Saints

What is possible in a child’s soul?  What is possible in your child’s soul?  God’s gift of sanctity is not based in our degree or education, our social status, our natural giftedness, our intelligence, or even our age.  So, what is our ability to become holy based on?  Exploring the lives of saints that are children and teens points the way to an answer that should dramatically shape our parenting as well as our formation of children in parish programs.  And shape your hope for the young souls in our modern culture.

 

Basic Certificate for Catholic School Teachers
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.

“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.

 

Doctrine

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.”

 

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.

 

Methodology

“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.

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.

Morality

In the context of youth ministry, 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 the major moral issues teens face today, and equip youth ministers with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking.

Sacraments

“Are you saved?”  This well intentioned and vitally important question, often asked by our separated brothers and sisters, has left many a Catholic struggling for a good answer.  Yet consider another question: “How are you saved?”  That question is answered by the uniquely Catholic doctrine of the Sacramental Economy.  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” (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.

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.  What parishes give catechetically isn’t always so reliably effective.  How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture?  How do we move from a program to a conversion process, from required hoops to revelatory hope?  Find out some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries.  This workshop will include insights from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, as well as examine current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation.

Intermediate Certificate for Catholic School Teachers
Prayer

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

 

“Jesus 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.

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.

 

Methodology II

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.

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.

 

Doctrine II

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.

“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.

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.

Philosophy

What is?  Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.  It is the discovery of reality.  This workshop explores key philosophical understanding that undergird critical truths of our faith:  the reality of absolute truth, the ability to know God with certainty, the existence of human purpose and true moral goods.

Culture

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.

So much confusion.  So much misunderstanding.  And so much potential for conversion!  In a letter to the Director of the Vatican Observatory, St. John Paul II eloquently noted that, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.  Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.”  This workshop, taught by a scientist, urges those engaged in catechesis to abandon apprehension of this arena of study.  God is the Author of both the physical and moral laws, of solar systems and souls.  In a balanced view of creation and our exploration of its mysteries, faithful Catholics need not fear the outcome, and can expect that the “good news” of our Savior will instead be deepened and enriched.

Advanced Certificate for Catholic School Teachers
Ethics

Ack!  Another NFP question from someone in RCIA/Adult Faith Formation class/returning Catholic/lady at the park!  Whatever will I say in response!?!  If you’ve ever had that thought fly into your head, this workshop will help!  Our culture believes that contraception is one of the greatest inventions of the late twentieth century.  Promoters of contraception argued that it would decrease unwed pregnancy and abortion and improve marriages.  Yet the evidence is overwhelming pointing the other direction.  The Church’s partnership with good science and good ethics is on display in this workshop, to assist catechists in being well-informed and secure enough to gently, clearly, and confidently share this aspect of the good news.

 

Our calling; our passions – so often at war it seems, especially under the influence of an increasingly confused and self-indulgent culture.  The results are not solely theoretical or philosophical, but also lead to many degradations of human dignity, and a society ever-more blind to the Church’s beautiful vision of openness to life.  This workshop, taught by a scientist, aims to help priests, parents, and catechists grasp the striking scope and logic of God’s revelation written into our bodies and our human desires for relationship.  It is a vision that unites our innate passions and eternal calling.

Methodology III

“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.

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.

 

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.

 

Doctrine III

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 youth outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores the work of the Holy Spirit in personal conversion and in accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.

“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, grows in faith, and loses 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.

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.

Philosophy II

People want to know – from the 1st grader’s question, “Did dinosaurs eat people?” to that of the curious adult, “How do we reconcile Darwin’s theory with Catholic teaching?”  Many priests, parents, and catechists feel entirely disarmed by such questions, because they call us to land a reasonable and responsible explanation somewhere between the extremes of fundamentalists Christians and atheistic spins on evolution.  What does the Church teach here?  This workshop, taught by a scientist, offers clarity on the facts and excellent guidance on the challenges of doing good catechesis on this important topic.

This workshop sharpens a few of your philosophical tools for teaching the faith.  We begin with a review of what philosophy is, why catechists need it, and ways that theologians use it.  Philosophy, far from putting our lessons out of reach of our audience, actually appeals to our disciples’ reason; 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 this philosophical approach to catechetical topics, and explore how our understanding of the distinction between nature and person helps us prepare our disciples to answer Jesus’ crucial question to His apostles, and to each one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Saints

What is possible in a child’s soul?  What is possible in your child’s soul?  God’s gift of sanctity is not based in our degree or education, our social status, our natural giftedness, our intelligence, or even our age.  So, what is our ability to become holy based on?  Exploring the lives of saints that are children and teens points the way to an answer that should dramatically shape our parenting as well as our formation of children in parish programs.  And shape your hope for the young souls in our modern culture.

 

Designed by On Fire Media, Inc.