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Archdiocese of Omaha

Welcome to the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Catechetical Institute webpage!

Learning Tracks

Foundational Catechist Certification
Foundations

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

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

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

 

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

Scripture

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

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

 

Method

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

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

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

Philosophy

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

 

Spiritual

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

 

Doctrine

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

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

 

Advanced Catechist Certification, Part I
Foundation

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

 

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

Scripture

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

 

Method

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

 

Philosophy

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

Spiritual

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

 

Doctrine

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

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

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

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

Advanced Catechist Certification, Part II
Foundations

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

 

Scripture

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

 

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

 

Method

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

Philosophy

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

Spiritual

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

 

Doctrine

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

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

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

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

Foundational RCIA Certification
The Vision for Christian Initiation

What is our purpose and goal as ministers in the Church in an RCIA process?  To make new Catholics?  To spread the Gospel?  To run a good process?  Our purpose and goal must transcend the “how” of RCIA and begin with the “why.”  The restoration of the catechumenal process is a reflection of the Church’s wisdom in going back to a tried and true practice in order to lovingly bring people into her fold.  It is a restoration of grace for those who are seeking Christ and his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  This workshop inaugurates the necessary vision to develop excellent parish-based RCIA ministry, beginning with a call to trust the wisdom of Holy Mother Church in her discernment to gift the modern world with a way of Christian Initiation unparalleled in its beauty and power.  Only in the light of this trust and deep understanding of the RCIA process, as the Church intends it to be implemented, does the full purpose and potential of the initiation journey become clear and attainable.

It is into the great mystery of the Father’s saving love through Christ Jesus that all believers are called.  And it is this great mystery that all the institutions of the Church, each and every one of them, exist to serve. The RCIA has no other purpose than the service of the holy mystery, the saving sacrament, of Christ present and active in His living Body.  The renewal of the process of Christian initiation stands as one of the most important and successful features of modern liturgical renewal. Since its promulgation in 1972 and its further elaboration under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has been among the most pastorally effective features of Catholic life in the United States.  And yet all is not well. The very fact that the challenge is conversion, the conforming of imperfect men and women to Christ, means that the process will never be perfect. Initiation is, after all, the beginning of a process which has its ending in eternity. However, there are problems that are more concrete and, for that reason, can more readily be corrected. In general, three models of RCIA are operative today in most Catholic parishes using the Rite. Each of the models conceives of, and practices, Christian initiation differently. This workshop describes these models, discussing their strengths and weaknesses in terms of catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral dimensions.  The result is clarity on how best the RCIA can serve the great work of immersing participants into Catholicism through a process of learning and interiorizing the sacred Scriptures, doctrines, sacraments, prayers, moral traditions, spiritual readings and rich communal culture of the Catholic Church, in order to serve the Father’s provident love in calling each soul to the living Body of Christ on earth.

From the ancient Nicene Creed we proclaim that “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.” The mystery of the second Person of the Trinity is the God who comes to us to save, redeem, instruct, give us hope and lead us to our promised glory.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  We do not have a God who is distant, but a God who comes to us in the most intimate way.  We enter into the mystery of Christ through a living Word, transforming sacramental grace, evangelizing catechesis, and evangelical communities.  This workshop will explore how a rich understanding of the means by which souls enter into Christ’s life can be fostered in our approaches to ministry. “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us” to call each soul to God’s loving plan and sure hope in Christ. This talk describes the means to participate in that life.

Liturgical Aspect of Christian Initiation

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

“. . . [T]he liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;  it is also the fount from which all her power flows” (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium 10).  The liturgy proclaims, celebrates, and actualizes the Father’s loving plan for His people.  The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), or catechumenal process, has three aspects: liturgical, catechetical, and pastoral, of which liturgical is prime. The Church has designed these aspects to promote deep, long-lasting conversion to Christ and a love for the Church.  This workshop will focus on the stages of the modern catechumenal process, which derives directly from the ancient order of catechumens, and the way liturgical graces build and crescendo through the four periods of the RCIA process to make possible the plan of goodness born in the Father’s heart for each believer.

Catechetical Aspect of Christian Initiation

“That which was from the beginning . . . that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” (1 John 1:1, 3). St. John Paul II proclaimed that, “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ . . .” (Apostolic Exhortation "On Catechesis in Our Time," Catechesi tradendae 5). The work of catechesis is not just “education,” but “intimacy with Jesus Christ.” God wants to make Himself known, to communicate His own divine life to us and make us capable of responding to Him. God gradually “pulls back the veil” (See 2 Corinthians 3:14–16) by words and deeds, but especially in Jesus Christ, the Mediator and fullness of all Revelation. By His Revelation, God has answered all the questions of the human condition. God wants all to be saved, so He arranged that His Revelation remain in its entirety and be transmitted to all generations. This workshop focuses on the apostolic work of passing on the truths of the faith in an organic and systematic way. This is done to make disciples of Christ and to initiate them into the fullness of Christian life through an encounter with the communion of believers and with Christ the Teacher. “‘The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 25)

This workshop explores adult catechesis within the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) baptismal catechumenate. Each period of the RCIA process has a distinctive catechetical objective in serving the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion, and so each period of the RCIA will have a different “feel” catechetically. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults itself gives us the guidelines for what participants need to know, and what we need to teach, thereby allowing the catechetical aspect of Christian initiation to become teaching in the service of leading others into the Father’s eternal embrace, a love beyond all telling

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.

Pastoral Aspect of Christian Initiation

St. Thérèse of Lisieux joyfully exulted that, “‘If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE — IT'S ETERNAL!’” (quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 826, emphasis in the original). We know that this love is the golden thread that binds all we believe, this love which has God as its source and which we know as the theological virtue of charity. It is the love of God that gives us truth to speak in gentleness and clarity, and life-giving concern to reach out sacrificially to all those souls around us. It is the love that makes us adopted sons and daughters. It is our beginning and our gifted destiny. This workshop delves into the vital nature of the love of brethren — the virtue of charity that helps us to love God first and love our neighbors as ourselves — that is to be the mark of any community calling others to join Christ’s Body.

The pastoral aspect of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) signifies the means by which we form and accompany souls, person-to-person, to a deeper relationship with the Trinity through the Body of Christ. Many who do not stay with the Church after going through the RCIA process leave not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of care. The pastoral components are the people who participate, some intimately and others from a distance, in Jesus’ graced work of conversion and discipleship of souls. It is the surpassing calling of becoming a gift to other souls, and receiving others freely as a gift from the Lord. This workshop addresses how the pastoral aspect of the RCIA process leads us to be sacrificial witnesses — the Lord’s chosen means to authenticate faith and relationship with the Trinity, to support conversion in lives, and through God’s saving message draw all people into the loving embrace of the Father and His People.

Advanced RCIA Certification, Part I
The Vision for Christian Initiation

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

Liturgical Aspects of Christian Initiation

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

“The rite of Christian initiation . . . is designed for adults who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 1). The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which men and women respond to the Lord’s movements in their lives and enter the Church. The RCIA Rite Book, also referred to as the RCIA Ritual Text, is the guiding light from the Magisterium for the entire RCIA process. In this workshop, we will learn about the origin and importance of this resource that is so integral to the process of the RCIA, as well as gain an overview of the major components of the RCIA Rite Book. It is vital that this liturgical document be understood by pastors, RCIA leaders, RCIA team members, and others involved in forming those who seek to enter Holy Mother Church. This text provides the liturgical prayers, major and minor rites, and the rubrics that are to be used during the RCIA process. It also provides essential pastoral and catechetical guidelines which aid a parish RCIA process to develop and operate as the Church intends, thereby properly serving the men and women in the RCIA process.

Catechetical Aspect of Christian Initiation

“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.

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

 

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

 

Pastoral Aspect of Christian Initiation

"No methodology, no matter how well tested, can dispense with the person of the catechist in every phase of the catechetical process. The charism given to him by the Spirit, a solid spirituality and transparent witness of life, constitutes the soul of every method" (GDC 156). This workshop discusses the surpassing importance of the catechist as a witness and how to wisely and effectively incorporate witnessing into the work of formation. To the degree this understanding is poorly understood by catechists, is the degree to which their efforts will fall on deaf ears in our secular culture, as Pope St. Paul VI reminds us: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (EN 41).

Mother Church, in Her wisdom, tells us that “. . . the entire community must help the candidates and the catechumens throughout the process of initiation” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 9). The RCIA team is an essential element in an effective RCIA process, because the RCIA team represents the Christian community and is often the first real “Catholic community” many RCIA participants encounter. The members of a well-formed RCIA team play a fundamental role in fostering the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion, through their personal witness to the faith and their commitment to fostering authentic relationships with those considering entering holy Mother Church. They support those in the RCIA process and accompany them on their journey of faith, modeling for them what the life of a Christian looks like. Most importantly, the RCIA team loves those who are in the RCIA process. This workshop delves into how to find, form, and faithfully lead a team that can help create a strong environment for conversion.

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thess 2:8). The role of sponsor or godparent in the RCIA process is intended by the Church to be a life-long task. It is a work of grace that is certainly challenging and demanding, but also extremely rewarding. The RCIA process calls for godparents and sponsors to be part of each participant’s journey into the Catholic Church. Who is appropriate for this role? How can you find and train them well? What does Canon Law require? Good sponsor/godparent choices can help the whole RCIA process become effectively attuned to each individual being served, while imprudent choices can affect everyone involved. Learn the keys to making this pastoral element decisive in the overall work of conversion.

Advanced RCIA Certification, Part II
The Vision for Christian Initiation

RCIA is conceived of by Holy Mother Church as a collaborative work, under the leadership of our clerical shepherds. The ritual book specifically describes catechists and other members of the laity as individuals who “work with priests and deacons” (RCIA 7).  This phrase recognizes the mutual dependence of the clergy and laity upon each other; it does not offer an option for either clergy or laity to “go it alone.”  The most noticeable areas of collaboration described in the ritual book are in catechesis and discernment, extending, for example, from sponsors/godparents up to the bishop of the diocese in the chain of accountability that unfolds in the Rite of Election.  This workshop explores these complementary roles through the RCIA process.  Only when every role is fulfilled does the Christian initiation process properly accomplish its part in the exalted mission of evangelizing and initiating adults into the mystery of Christ and the communion of the Catholic Church.

Liturgical Aspect of Christian Initiation

[The catechumenate] is not a mere exposition of dogmatic truths and norms for morality, but a period of formation in the whole Christian life, an apprenticeship of sufficient duration, during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher” (AG 14).  In the Church’s wisdom, this apprenticeship demands a careful process of mutual discernment that extends through the RCIA process and reaches specific points of inquiry as each of the major liturgical rites approach.  Participants need to be aided to examine and re-examine their genuine desire to become truly Christian adherents, truly the Lord’s, fully in the Church, and what that practically means in their lives.  For her part, the Church, as represented by the pastor and RCIA leadership, must also be certain that this decision is appropriately considered and not premature. This workshop examines the RCIA Rites Book’s specific assistance in this regard, offering clear guidance about how this discernment should proceed.

Catechetical Aspect of Christian Initiation

“From evangelization, completed with the help of God, come the faith and initial conversion that cause a person to feel called away from sin and drawn into the mystery of God’s love. The whole period of the precatechumenate is set aside for this evangelization, so that the genuine will to follow Christ and seek Baptism may mature” (RCIA 37).  Being first, this period of the RCIA process is critical, since so much must be built upon it in subsequent periods to serve the Holy Spirit’s work of conversion.  What does an effective precatechumenate consist of in consideration of the liturgical, catechetical, and pastoral aspects of the RCIA process?  This workshop explores the necessary elements that make this period a graced invitation to a love beyond all telling.

“The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope, or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love” (CCC 25).  This longest period of the RCIA process rests on the foundation of an effective precatechumenate.  This workshop unpacks the Church’s call in this period: to lead participants to the Catholic life of believing, hoping, and loving – a deep encounter with God’s radical generosity and mercy, found in the light of truth and the love of a community of faith.

Before RCIA participants receive the sacraments of initiation: “...the elect must have the intention of achieving an intimate knowledge of Christ and his Church, and they are expected particularly to progress in genuine self-knowledge through serious examination of their lives and true repentance” (RCIA 142).  This workshop provides the Church’s pattern for the period of immediate preparation prior to sacramental initiation.  This is not a period in which to teach new doctrines; it is a period for a new depth of encounter.  It is a time to inform and develop the life of prayer, the call to holiness, the sense of repentance, the yearning for healing graces, the anticipation of Jesus’ saving embrace in His sacraments.  With its unique liturgies and spiritual focus, this period is a time of retreat, making straight the way of Lord to come anew to hearts well prepared for His coming.

“The distinctive spirit and power of the period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy derive from the new, personal experience of the sacraments and of the community” (RCIA 247). The time between Easter and Pentecost is spent in expanding the understanding and appreciation for the sacramental life – to stoke an authentic pursuit of sainthood in new Catholic hearts. In this period of the RCIA process, the deepest meaning of discipleship must be examined, leading to a greater trust, a firmer hope, a more generous love, and the call to mission – to give to others the treasure that has been so freely given.

Pastoral Aspect of Christian Initiation

How do we, as parish and as an RCIA team, prepare inquirers for the momentous commitment to become one of the Church’s own?  Apart from the sacraments of initiation, the first major liturgical gateway is the most significant one for both catechumens and candidates.  The ritual book emphatically states that the “Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens is of the utmost importance” because these individuals are, “assembling publicly for the first time [to] declare their intention to the Church and the Church in turn, carrying out its apostolic mission, accepts them as persons who intend to become its members” (RCIA 41).  Inquirers should not go through this Rite unless they have a desire to learn and live the Catholic way of life, and know the essence of what they are choosing.  For her part, the Church, as represented by the pastor and RCIA leadership, must also be certain that this decision is appropriate and not premature, that these inquirers intend to become Catholics. This workshop helps parishes to understand the careful pastoral work that leads to this place of decision.

As Lent approaches, so does a major liturgical gateway: the Rites of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion.  As the period preceding this gateway draws to a close, participants should “have undergone a conversion in mind and in action and to have developed a sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching as well as a spirit of faith and charity” (RCIA 120).  RCIA participants should have become increasingly involved with the local community, which can wholeheartedly acclaim their readiness because it knows them.  This workshop unfolds the elements of pastoral care leading to a deepened conversion, mature discernment, and God-willing, an encounter with the apostolic shepherd of the diocese calling each soul forward to the sacraments of new life.

Of course, the story of the RCIA team and parish community’s role in the Christian initiation process does not stop after the candles of the Easter Vigil have been extinguished.  Each child who arrives in a family changes it forever, and these Catholics, who have become a “new creation” (Gal 6:15) in the Spirit, change the parish family into which they have been born or received.  From the decision to receive the sacraments of initiation through the first year as a Catholic there are many challenges. The role of the parish, the clergy, the RCIA team, the godparents and sponsors during this crucial time will be examined in this workshop. Special attention will be paid to stemming the tide of recidivism.

Foundational PCL Certification
Foundations

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

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

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

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

Leadership

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

 

This workshop, designed for Parish Catechetical Leaders seeking to plan for and implement successful parish faith formation programs, discusses how the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults’ (RCIA) baptismal catechumenate format actually serves as a helpful model for doing so. This may be surprising, but the format of the RCIA baptismal catechumenate is actually modeled by Jesus in His encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35), and since then has been followed by the Church to form disciples. The presenter precedes this teaching on the RCIA baptismal catechumenate with the 1997 General Directory for Catechesis’ (GDC) key conditions that need to be present in the parish before beginning and concludes with ways to assess faith formation programs. Let's explore this method of applying the RCIA baptismal catechumenate to our parish formation programs in order to best foster conversion and form disciples of our Lord Jesus, to make saints!

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

Christ our Lord had wonderful times with his apostolic band – “You are my friends” (John 15:14) – and tough times as well – “How much longer must I be among you and put up with you!” (Luke 9:41).  The volunteer catechists we have the privilege of serving alongside of and leading in ministry merit our best efforts in training and equipping them for the ministry to which they are called. This highly practical pair of workshops examines the type of person who volunteers to be a catechist, reasons for volunteering, where to find volunteer catechists, screening prospects, the dynamics of working together in a parish program, addressing problem situations which may arise among or with catechists. We offer specific practical strategies for forming and training catechists in four critical areas: human, spiritual, doctrinal and apostolic. The aim of this pair of workshops is to place integral formation of people at the top of the list of priorities of a parish catechetical leader, to make possible a successful sharing of outreach to any age in every parish.

Ministries

In our calling to guide souls in their relationship with the Blessed Trinity, we have the assistance of a powerful tool: the religion textbook! Religion textbooks play an undeniably important role in the Church’s mandate to foster a faith that is “living, conscious, and active” (see the General Catechetical Directory (GCD) 17). This workshop explores the purpose and best use of textbooks within catechesis, and assists participants in developing criteria for textbook selection while examining various materials currently in use for schools and parish programs. Ways to include the parents or caregivers, who are the “primary educators” (see General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) 226–227) of children, will be explored. We will also be challenging the dominance of the textbook in religious education, and the need to develop formation approaches that prioritize the person of the catechist above all: “The work of the catechist must be considered of greater importance than the selection of texts and other tools” (GCD 71).

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

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

Advanced PCL Certification, Part I
Foundations

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

 

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

 

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

 

Leadership

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul . . . the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes . . .” (Psalm 19:7–8). The Lord’s law revives our souls, causes our hearts to rejoice, and enlightens our eyes, because when we obey His commands, we live in the freedom that God intends for us. As Parish Catechetical Leaders, we can live in the freedom of God's commands by being attentive to potential legal issues that might arise during the course of our ministry and developing proactive approaches to attend to those issues. Amidst our responsibilities for program development, implementation, and evaluation, as well as many other facets of faith formation, we must remember that the safety and care of the parish’s children, teens, and adults is paramount, as is the welfare of those we lead. This workshop offers an overview of potential legal issues, practical tips and suggestions for anticipating and avoiding them, and recommends two valuable resources for Parish Catechetical Leaders to guide us in navigating potential legal issues.

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

 

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

Ministries

Most parishes have very intentional forms of outreach to children:  days schools, youth groups, Vacation Bible School, sports programs, etc.  Far fewer have well-designed, well-supported, and diverse forms of outreach to adults.  Even rarer are parishes that make a priority of hiring people or recruiting and training volunteers whose specific calling and skills are the evangelization and catechesis of adults.  Yet St. John Paul II emphasized that, “One of the constant concerns whose urgency is confirmed by present day experience throughout the world, is the catechesis of adults.  This is the principal form of catechesis because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibility and the capacity to live the Christian message added later in its fully developed form” (CT 43).  This workshop heeds that call, and offers practical ways forward for parish ministries, both to identify the great needs that exist in every community, and the pastoral sensitivities required to meet those needs.

 

The Church has always looked on catechesis as a “sacred duty and an inalienable right” that needs to be available to all people (CT 14).  This workshop will introduce the catechist to the Church’s teaching concerning catechesis for persons who have physical or developmental disabilities, and include practical assistance for catechists working with various special needs situations.  This workshop will also help raise awareness among those involved in parish work of the many resources and sources of aid that exist to serve children and adults with these conditions.

 

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

The General Directory for Catechesis notes that, “Given that the missio ad gentes is the paradigm of all the Church's missionary activity, the baptismal catechumenate, which is joined to it, is the model of its catechizing activity” (GDC 90).  Many people who read this statement are curious why Mother Church urges those who teach the faith to see the catechumenate (the RCIA process) as a model for all forms of catechesis.  Sometimes this is because the Church’s vision for RCIA itself is misunderstood or poorly applied, resulting in a program hardly worthy of imitation!  Sometimes people simply have not been helped to see that the mission of all catechesis is conversion, not just the goal of an initiation process.  This workshop makes clear what the catechumenal model actually is, and then offers practical guidance on how all forms of catechesis can become more effective and centered on the mission of the Church through its creative application.

Advanced PCL Certification, Part II
Foundations

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

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

Leadership

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

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

 

“And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. . . . They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?’” (Luke 24:27, 32). The hearts of the disciples burned within them as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them. The hearts of those entrusted to us can also burn with a desire and hunger for the Lord through the catechesis they receive. Echoing the Mystery: Unlocking the Deposit of Faith in Catechesis is an incredible resource that stems from the heart of a true catechist. Barbara Morgan became a catechist at the age of fourteen, and spent the majority of her life teaching the faith, and forming others to be catechists. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan collaborated with Barbara Morgan in order to develop this resource. This workshop offers a walk-through of this uniquely beneficial resource that helps us teach in such a way that the hearts of those entrusted to us may burn within them. This guide for unlocking the Deposit of Faith can be a resource to all in the catechetical field, be they priests, parents, teachers, parish catechists, youth ministers, and so on. 

Working for and with God’s people is like no other job on earth. There are responsibilities of a PCL’s profession that distinguish it from those in the secular world, but there are also many things that remain universal.  This workshop will explore various types of relationships in the parish community, what complexities arise for relationships with staff and volunteers, the unique elements of working successfully and serving with priests, and a myriad of best practices in being the generous, wise, and faithful servant leader all PCL’s are called to be. Being able to handle these practical realities is a necessary skill in the effort to facilitate, instead of impede, the work of the Holy Spirit in the parish.

Ministries

Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Within this central call, as parish catechetical leaders, we are responsible for developing, directing, and implementing a successful parish formation program.  This workshop will discuss the policies and procedures needed to help our programs run effectively, protect our children, teens, adults, our catechists, and ourselves, and promote a professionalism in ministry that is responsible and appropriate to any institution where the work of Lord is presumed to be given our very best in all regards.

The work of evangelization, of sharing the Gospel message with others, is vitally important, because the love at the heart of the Gospel is intended for every one of us — educators and students alike. The Gospel will meet every human longing, the Gospel can penetrate any culture, any community, and the Gospel is forever personal — Lover to beloved. Creating an environment within the Catholic school or parish classroom in which students are evangelized, transformed by the love of the Gospel, and led into discipleship of Christ is made possible first and foremost by the faithful witness of the educator. By us as teachers first being evangelized and seeking to grow in our relationship with Jesus, we transform our classroom and aid students in using their unique, God-given traits and talents to grow in holiness. This workshop will encourage us to see every moment as an evangelizing moment for the teacher as well as the students, and prompt us, as Catholic educators, to take seriously our own commitment to the teachings of the Catholic faith and our continual conversion to Christ.

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 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.

Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Four Part Test and Test Preparation

This workshop is the first installment of a four-part series on reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an amazing gift that the Church has given us.  Within the Catechism, we find the Church’s teachings clearly laid out and supported by Sacred Scripture and Tradition.  This particular workshop walks through and highlights the key points within Part 1: The Profession of Faith, which includes an overview of the Trinity, the Creed, Salvation History, the Four Last Things, etc. 

Before beginning this workshop, please complete the workshop "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Part 1".  The four part "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism" workshop series is designed to help prepare you to take the test.

Please know that the "Start this workshop" button below, will not automatically start the test. We have more information available to you before you begin, and you will have the option to stsrt the test when you are ready to do so.

This workshop is part of a four-part series on reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an amazing gift that the Church has given us. Within the Catechism, we find the Church’s teachings clearly laid out and supported by Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This particular workshop walks through and highlights the key points within Part 2: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, which includes an overview of Christ’s continuing work in the Sacraments,  the seven Sacraments of the Church, and other liturgical celebrations.

Before beginning this workshop, please complete the workshop "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Part 2".  The four part "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism" workshop series is designed to help prepare you to take the test.

Please know that the "Start this workshop" button below, will not automatically start the test. We have more information available to you before you begin, and you will have the option to stsrt the test when you are ready to do so.

This workshop is part of a four-part series on reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an amazing gift that the Church has given us. Within the Catechism, we find the Church’s teachings clearly laid out and supported by Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This particular workshop walks through and highlights the key points within Part 3: Life in Christ, which includes discussion of the dignity of the human person, human community, law and grace, and the Ten Commandments.

Before beginning this workshop, please complete the workshop "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Part 3".  The four part "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism" workshop series is designed to help prepare you to take the test.

Please know that the "Start this workshop" button below, will not automatically start the test. We have more information available to you before you begin, and you will have the option to stsrt the test when you are ready to do so.

This workshop is part of a four-part series on reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an amazing gift that the Church has given us. Within the Catechism, we find the Church’s teachings clearly laid out and supported by Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This particular workshop walks through and highlights the key points within Part 4: Christian Prayer, which includes an overview of what prayer is, types of prayer, the life of prayer and a detailed look at the Lord's Prayer. 

Before beginning this workshop, please complete the workshop "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Part 4".  The four part "Unlocking the Rich Treasure of the Catechism" workshop series is designed to help prepare you to take the test.

Please know that the "Start this workshop" button below, will not automatically start the test. We have more information available to you before you begin, and you will have the option to stsrt the test when you are ready to do so.

First Year Youth Ministry
Foundations

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

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

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

Culture and Context of Youth Ministry

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

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

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

Catechetical Formation of Adolescents

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

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

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

Second Year Youth Ministry
Foundations

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

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

“The heart of catechesis is the explicit proposal of Christ to the young man in the Gospel; it is a direct proposal to all young people in terms appropriate to young people, and with considered understanding of their problems,” (GDC 183). Jesus invited the rich young man to follow Him. In our ministry to young people, we also invite young people to follow Jesus and be His disciple. It is beneficial to develop a holistic view of adolescence in order to speak to the heart of a young person and lead them closer to the Lord. The goal of this workshop is to help parents, youth ministers, teachers, and those who minister to teens understand the development of teenagers in order to effectively minister to them.  

Culture and Context of Youth Ministry

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

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

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

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

Catechetical Formation of Adolescents

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

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

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

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