At the Service of Building Up the Church – Our Ministry Tracks
The Catechetical Institute’s offerings laid out here are divided into a dozen tracks.
Below, you may view a summary of each track, download a PDF handout for that track, and view the workshops associated with that ministry area.
A diocese partnering with Franciscan’s Catechetical Institute can select any of our workshops to add to any aspect of its existing certification programs, continuing education requirements, or adult formation outreach. This provides a diocese with a corpus of many dozens of workshops spread across all ministry areas. They can be used in any way a diocese wishes.
Catechist (CT) Track
Directed to any person engaged in teaching ministries at any level, this three-part comprehensive program offers spiritual, methodological, philosophical, and doctrinal topics essential to the teaching of the Catholic faith. Believing that the most significant factor in the catechetical endeavor is the individual catechist passing on the witness of a lived faith, this track aims to complement basic diocesan catechist certification by enriching in-diocese teaching with workshops designed to: 1) take the next step in formation in key areas, 2) target areas needing strengthening in our current cultural context, and 3) allow a catechist to continue growing his or her skills and understanding in the years following completion of diocesan certification.
Parish Catechetical Leader (PCL) Track
This is an all-encompassing three-part series of workshops offering the spiritual, catechetical, relational, and philosophical topics essential to leadership in parish catechetical programs. Whether a catechetical leader is tasked with ministry to adult, teens, children, or all three, the workshops in this track cover vital administrative skills, including recruitment and training of catechists, planning and evaluation of curriculum and programs, and managing pastoral and parental relationships. In addition, this track addresses areas such as evangelization and its link to catechesis, catechetical program organization and assessment, working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, serving those with special needs, and fostering the vocational discernment and spiritual formation of others.
Catechumenal Ministry (RCIA) Track
In cooperation with the Association for Catechumenal Ministry (ACM), this wide-ranging three-part track provides a superlative preparation for all those involved in assisting the conversion process of newcomers to the Catholic faith, focusing on the liturgical, catechetical, and pastoral elements essential to the evangelization and formation of those investigating and approaching our Church. While presenting a systematic doctrinal foundation coming directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this track also includes a deep exploration of Scripture’s role in the conversion process, the critical centrality of the liturgical rites, the nature of teaching for conversion, the indispensable work of an RCIA team, the role of sponsors and godparents, the power of a balanced clergy-laity collaboration, and the importance of each of the stages of the catechumenal process. Workshops on evangelism, canon law, and the catechumenate for children and adolescents are also offered.
Youth Ministry (YM) Track
In cooperation with Life Teen, this track offers an efficient and in-depth two-part series of workshops providing thorough formation for youth ministers, including presentations that are practical, academic, theological, and spiritual. The most important factor in successfully evangelizing and discipling adolescents is the human one: the authentic witness and genuine love of those willing to invest in the spiritual growth of younger souls. This track helps youth ministers to impact families, who bear the primarily formative responsibility, and to walk alongside adolescents in the Spirit’s power, with pastoral prudence, doctrinal confidence, and a generous life witness.
Catholic Schools (CS) Track
This series of workshops is aimed at assisting elementary and high school teachers and administrators in their knowledge of and ability to pass on the Catholic faith to students and their families. This track is designed to serve the real-world needs of teachers in a three-fold manner by: 1) addressing practical and methodological classroom issues stemming from modern family and culture contexts, 2) assessing ways to handle common doubts and questions of children and teens, and 3) exploring how a classroom experience can be not only mind-growing, but truly soul-forming. Actual classroom lesson plans that incorporate different educational and catechetical techniques are illustrated. Workshops will also introduce the concept of incarnational dynamism in classroom teaching. This consists in drawing the student to the Person of Jesus Christ, (who is the content of all catechesis) through the use of contemporary and ancient sacred art, Christian and secular forms of music, popular and classical literature, film, and age-appropriate classroom activities. The aim in this track is form teachers to effectively witness to the Catholic faith in a manner that will authentically engage students and foster genuine evangelization.
Campus Ministry (CM) Track
Campus ministry at modern colleges in this culture is an immensely challenging endeavor. This track offers a two-part set of workshops targeted to the unique and transient world of campus life. Any effort to evangelize and make disciples of college students must start with a carefully-formed Catholic worldview and a genuine missionary mindset. Workshops by veteran campus ministers explore the essential steps for developing and growing an effective campus ministry attentive both to seekers and those needing deeper, ongoing spiritual growth. Attention is particularly given to sustained long-term growth, not just short-term gains.
Pastoral Accompaniment (PA) Track
The primary aim of this three-part series of workshops is those working in any ministry setting, clergy or laity, whose interactions with others imply a need for mentoring skills, evangelical hospitality, ongoing pastoral interactions in the course of catechetical work, small group facilitation, parenting and nurturing ability, and intercessory prayer outreach. Anyone who has some degree of the care of souls can benefit significantly from these workshops. This track is divided in three areas of emphasis in pastoral accompaniment: 1) mentoring, 2) spiritual guidance, and 3) counseling. Workshops in each these areas are not designed for professional counselors, spiritual directors, or similar niche roles, but instead for those in more general catechetical or ministerial roles to inculcate skills that greatly enhance a person’s ability to serve God’s work in others. This track’s diverse content is also applicable to every parent, every priest, and every parishioner who understands the demanding call upon all baptized believers to love generously and serve sacrificially.
Culture of Life (CL) Track
The purpose of this three-part series of workshops is to help those working in diocesan pro-life or family life offices, parish coordinators, and employees or volunteers serving pro-life apostolates such as crisis pregnancy centers, legal advocacy groups, health care workers, and post-abortion healing ministries. The demanding skill set needed for effective pro-life ministry includes fields as diverse as health care, politics, formal theology, bioethics, counseling, sociology, catechetics, law, life sciences, and policy history. This track address all these and more, delving into related aspects of fostering a culture of life, such as the nature of human liberty in Catholic social teaching, feminine and masculine genius, evolution, environmental stewardship, service to the poor, outreach to those addicted, depressed, or discarded by society, and the critical importance of prayer and spiritual combat to oppose the pervasive culture of death.
First Proclamation (FP) Track
This track is intended for any individual, clergy or lay, active in ministry or not, who desires to develop the ability to proclaim the Gospel to others. Workshops in this two-part series address the critical content of the basic Gospel message, the historical ways in which it has been unfolded, the nature of conversion and faith development, the natural and necessary connection between evangelization and a deeper exploration of the faith, best practices in the field in a wide range of circumstances, skills development, the place of apologetics, specific avenues to evangelize families, and the need to be well-formed in the pastoral and spiritual aspects of outreach. A special feature of this track is a far-reaching series of interviews with many Catholics doing creative and effective evangelization work in a myriad of contexts.
Priestly Renewal (PR) Track
In reaching out to assist diocesan bishops and religious superiors, Franciscan University aims to provide a high-quality series of workshops for seminarians and priests desiring superlative, efficient, and pragmatic formation for their leadership roles in the new evangelization. We have developed means to help seminarians and priests explore authentically Catholic approaches to outreach, inculturation, and communicating the kerygma effectively with strong follow-up. The workshops available through this track provide seminarians and priests with deeper formation for missionary outreach and increase their ability to attune parish life to be truly outward-oriented centers of evangelization and discipleship. Undergirding this formation is the basic assumption that every man in Holy Orders is worth deep investment to foster excellence in that vocation, and that God’s grace and His Spirit can bring much from our poverty and weakness.
Ministry of Parenting (MP) Track
In his landmark document on family life, Pope John Paul II stated that, “The sacrament of marriage gives to the educational role the dignity and vocation of being really and truly a ‘ministry’ of the Church at the service of the building up of her members. So great and splendid is the educational ministry of Christian parents that Saint Thomas has no hesitation in comparing it with the ministry of priests: ‘Some only propagate and guard spiritual life by a spiritual ministry: this is the role of the sacrament of Orders; others do this for both corporal and spiritual life, and this is brought about by the sacrament of marriage, by which a man and a woman join in order to beget offspring and bring them up to worship God.’” The Catechetical Institute views parenting as the critical catechetical role in the Church. The workshops offered in this track are not intended to result in any certification, but instead aim at a far more fundamental end: forming adults who know how to live a missionary life in marriage – judging nothing in life as greater than the work of parenting towards sainthood, and striving for spousal sanctity. To foster this, a great variety of pragmatic and imaginative workshops is offered by the Catechetical Institute as electives in every track, and collected together in this track to help families in our challenging modern culture to see God’s plan for the domestic church and the school of holiness as the decisive element in bringing about a culture of life.
Music Ministry (MM) Track
The influence of music in most people’s lives is profound. The Church’s long experience and wisdom also recognizes that music is a salvific tool, a gift of beauty arising from human talent and supernatural charism that is often graced by God to aid and deepen conversion, draw forth repentance, foster spiritual peace, heighten worship, and stoke zeal. The workshops in this track offer an all-inclusive exploration of the Church’s vision for music ministry and the myriad practical ways it can be encouraged in ecclesial settings, wielded in formative experiences, and developed and matured in the lives of children, teens, and adults. Of particular focus is an open look at the relative value of various genres of Christian music in a modern setting, and how preserving a vibrant Catholic family life from a pervasively acidic secular culture can be greatly aided by the gift of sacred sound.
What is good youth ministry in today’s Church? Every ministry to young people needs to have a clear mission and purpose, rooted in the larger mission of the Church, and needs to be able to identify clear values in the way that ministry is carried out. The U.S. Bishops have provided a guiding vision to Catholic youth ministry in their Renewing the Vision document. In this workshop, we unpack that key document and looking specifically at the essential components to a vibrant, effective approach to parish ministry for young people.
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 identity 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.
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” (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 of the Church 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 vocational is graced to become.
Ack! Another NFP question from someone in RCIA/Adult Faith Formation class/returning Catholic/lady at the park! Whatever will I say in response!?! If you’ve ever had that thought fly into your head, this workshop will help! Our culture believes that contraception is one of the greatest inventions of the late twentieth century. Promoters of contraception argued that it would decrease unwed pregnancy and abortion and improve marriages. Yet the evidence is overwhelming pointing the other direction. The Church’s partnership with good science and good ethics is on display in this workshop, to assist catechists in being well-informed and secure enough to gently, clearly, and confidently share this aspect of the good news.
Our calling; our passions – so often at war it seems, especially under the influence of an increasingly confused and self-indulgent culture. The results are not solely theoretical or philosophical, but also lead to many degradations of human dignity, and a society ever-more blind to the Church’s beautiful vision of openness to life. This workshop, taught by a scientist, aims to help priests, parents, and catechists grasp the striking scope and logic of God’s revelation written into our bodies and our human desires for relationship. It is a vision that unites our innate passions and eternal calling.
An important part of being a mentor is getting to really know the person under your care. In this workshop, we explore various kinds of questions related to this work of discovery, and demonstrate which ones best accomplish the objective of authentically revealing that person’s thoughts and needs to productively and wisely build the mentoring relationship. Poor questions result in missed opportunities or weak rapport. Great questions truly serve to open up a soul and build strong mentorship. We especially emphasize the value of open-ended questions oriented toward drawing out a person’s life story.
Empathic listening makes a profound impact on mentoring relationships and in the mentor’s ability to influence effectively someone seeking guidance. When mentors ask good questions, they demonstrate a sincere interest in getting to know those in their care. Such questions orient the relationship towards more authentic sharing, and thereby allows the Holy Spirit to foster spiritual progress and genuine openness to God’s will. This workshop is intended to complement the workshop on asking good questions. Empathic listening is the counterpart skill that enables mentors to truly understand another person intellectually as well as emotionally. As well as addressing the meaning of empathy, we discuss how Jesus provides the superlative pattern for this service to souls.
Increasingly our communities, and the parishes that serve them, are a mosaic of ethnicities and languages. St. John Paul II noted that, “the power of the Gospel everywhere transforms and regenerates. When that power enters into a culture, it is no surprise that it rectifies many of its elements. There would be no catechesis if it were the Gospel that had to change when it came into contact with the cultures. To forget this would simply amount to what St. Paul very forcefully calls “emptying the cross of Christ of its power.” It is a different matter to take, with wise discernment, certain elements, religious or otherwise, that form part of the cultural heritage of a human group and use them to help its members to understand better the whole of the Christian mystery” (CT 53). This workshop addresses the challenges and opportunities of the Church’s work of inculturation, specifically focusing on situations where parish communities are serving souls from a diversity of backgrounds and cultural experiences.
The Church has always looked on catechesis as a “sacred duty and an inalienable right” that needs to be available to all people (CT 14). This workshop will introduce the catechist to the Church’s teaching concerning catechesis for persons who have physical or developmental disabilities, and include practical assistance for catechists working with various special needs situations. This workshop will also help raise awareness among those involved in parish work of the many resources and sources of aid that exist to serve children and adults with these conditions.
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.
Pope Francis teaches us that, “Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time . . . Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in His love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good” (Lumen Fidei 51). This workshop will introduce and explain what some authors have called the Church’s best kept secret: the Catholic Social Tradition. Often misunderstood, the Church’s social teaching is not a partisan platform, an economic policy, or a political position, but rather an integral part of proclaiming and living the good news of Jesus Christ. We will present the social gospel in this context and demonstrate how this aspect of Church teaching can help evangelize, console, and lovingly challenge those you seek to teach.
What is possible in a child’s soul? What is possible in your child’s soul? God’s gift of sanctity is not based in our degree or education, our social status, our natural giftedness, our intelligence, or even our age. So, what is our ability to become holy based on? Exploring the lives of saints that are children and teens points the way to an answer that should dramatically shape our parenting as well as our formation of children in parish programs. And shape your hope for the young souls in our modern culture.
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.
St. John Bosco once said, probably on one his hard days while shepherding his sea of teenage boys, that, “sometimes children just need to be loud!” But how do you balance necessary discipline and the need for a loving Christian tone. Joy and just punishment. Gentleness and good focus? This workshop addresses the challenge unique to the teacher of the faith – how to ensure that a loving Christian environment exists as a good witness to younger disciples without compromising effective and efficient means of discipline.
Effectively Confirming. What the bishop gives sacramentally is always efficacious. What parishes give catechetically isn’t always so reliably effective. How do we support our confirmands and their families in this deeply challenging modern culture? How do we move from a program to a conversion process, from required hoops to revelatory hope? Find out some practical strategies that apply to this and other parish ministries. This workshop will include insights from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, as well as examine current trends relating to the age of Confirmation and the ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation.
“The ministry of Pastoral Care involves promoting positive adolescent and family development through a variety of positive (preventive) strategies; caring for adolescents and families in crisis through support, counseling, and referral to appropriate community agencies; providing guidance as young people face life decisions and make moral choices; and challenging systems that are obstacles to positive development” (Renewing the Vision, p. 42). This workshop explores the role a youth program should play in the development of adolescents’ identity through faith, and in the development of self-esteem based on real qualities of character. It also gives a myriad of suggestions on how to obtain “hands-on” information about typical crisis situations in the life of an adolescent, as well as about necessary pastoral and professional interventions.
Pope Paul VI said that, “It is necessary above all to prepare good instructors – parochial catechists, teachers, parents – who are desirous of perfecting themselves in this superior art, which is indispensable and requires religious instruction” (EN 44). Catholics have the most important message, period. For those of us blessed and privileged with the vocation of catechist, it is a sacred duty to strive to be the best messenger that our natural gifts and supernatural graces can yield for God’s people. This workshop helps sharpen skills, point out common mistakes, and challenge forms of mediocrity that can be overcome. Our diligence to be formed and refined as channels of graces is greatly aided by the pragmatic approach of this workshop.
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 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.
“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.
“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 Renewing the Vision, and this workshop looks at the difference between a follower of Christ and a disciple of Christ. What can we do to make teen disciples? It starts by forming adult disciples that can model holiness for youth.
“The heart of catechesis is the explicit proposal of Christ to the young man in the Gospel; it is a direct proposal to all young people in terms appropriate to young people, and with considered understanding of their problems” (GDC 183). This practical workshop helps youth ministers and all those who seek to reach teens with God’s love, especially parents, to understand the psychological make-up of today’s teens. The goal is to help a young person at this stage of life obtain a holistic picture of the role adolescence plays in the process of development of an emotionally and morally integrated Christian, which even in these transitional years can enable a path to spiritual peace and joy.
Building from the first teaching on this topic, this workshop will go beyond the basic steps of this method and offer further suggestions and guidance on wielding this powerful means of unfolding the Deposit of Faith. One of the highlights of this workshop is to help you see the great flexibility of this catechetical approach. Suited to all ages, the Ecclesial Method significantly contributes to maturing our teaching, ensuring that those with different learning styles are well served and that full engagement of learners becomes our overarching priority.
How do we keep our focus on serving the Holy Spirit’s plan and empowerment, and not our own ways and human strength? Pope Paul VI wrote, “techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit” (Evangelii Nuntandi 75). No one responds to the gospel without first being drawn by the Holy Spirit, and no one can live the high calling of the Christian life without being empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we forget that youth outreach is a work of God, we burn-out. This workshop explores the work of the Holy Spirit in personal conversion and in accepting with joy the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Church.
“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.
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 successfully ministry approach.
“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.
“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.
Mother Church insists that catechesis that truly evangelizes hearts, and that meets souls in the place of greatest need, must be unshakably centered upon He who is our beginning and our end – Jesus Christ. We teach Jesus, and everything we teach, we teach in reference to Him. 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.
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.
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.
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.
In the context of youth ministry, this workshop offers a summary outline of the basic principles of Catholic morality and how our moral life is rooted not merely in a code of ethics or a set of rules, but profoundly in the Person of Jesus. It discusses the major moral issues teens face today, and equip youth ministers with the tools to establish a sure foundation for right moral thinking.
Catholic parenting is embattled in our modern world. Often in our homes, good intentions contend with significant confusion about what a Catholic way of life looks like in the daily details. Especially on one day – Sunday. How does Mother Church guide us to a home life that is joyful, balanced, and peace-giving? What does it look life for parents to claim that sacred ground for their family, defend it, and flourish within its blessings?
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.
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb 1:1-2). Revelation means to pull back the veil. It is God’s method of manifesting a bit of Himself, allowing us time to absorb it and respond, before He shows a bit more; and the process repeats. Because the work of catechesis is oriented towards conversion, the catechist needs to understand clearly how a person gets faith, grows in faith, and loses faith. This workshop delves in the sacred pattern of God’s methodology – how He reaches out to us, and how He calls us and enables us to freely respond.
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.
“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.
This workshop is about the central importance of personal vocation. In the words of St. Jon Paul II, the human person, each unique and unrepeatable, is “the primary and fundamental way for the Church” (RH 14). Each is called to a graced path: to eternal divine beatitude, and to live as a person devoted to the good of his or her neighbor. We will discuss the meaning of personal vocation as it emerged from the Second Vatican Council and was developed in the teaching of St. John Paul II. The unfortunate neglect of personal vocation will also be addressed. We will discuss the pressing need for integrating personal vocation into all Catholic formation. Mentors must situate their mentorship squarely within their own unique callings. In turn, they must help those in their care further clarify and deepen their own personal vocations. Personal vocation should not be a peripheral concept for the Catholic but a central and integrating principle of a life lived in and for Christ.
This workshop sharpens a few of your philosophical tools for teaching the faith. We begin with a review of what philosophy is, why catechists need it, and ways that theologians use it. Philosophy, far from putting our lessons out of reach of our audience, actually appeals to our disciples’ reason; it helps us explain doctrine so that it “makes sense,” rather than just falling back on, “because I said so.” This workshop will provide examples of this philosophical approach to catechetical topics, and explore how our understanding of the distinction between nature and person helps us prepare our disciples to answer Jesus’ crucial question to His apostles, and to each one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”
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.
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.
What is? Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. It is the discovery of reality. This workshop explores key philosophical understanding that undergird critical truths of our faith: the reality of absolute truth, the ability to know God with certainty, the existence of human purpose and true moral goods.
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.
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.
Knowing and understanding Scripture is essential in the life of a catechist. This workshop will explore how God’s Word, transmitted in Sacred Scripture, grounds and deepens our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. In Scripture, we see the sweeping Plan of God, the history of salvation unfolded. We hear His stunning and steadfast invitation to communion with Him. Sacred Scripture ought to permeate all forms of catechesis, as well as our personal lives as catechists. Through creating lesson plans saturated with the Scriptures, we foster a profound encounter with the Divine – love and challenge, wisdom and hope, forgiveness and mercy, and the means to know God and to know ourselves. By breaking open the Scriptures in each catechetical session, we unlock the mystery of Christ, revealing to those we teach the One they desire to know, fostering life-changing intimacy with God.
The 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 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 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” (GCD 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.
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.
“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.
The Church is the Body of Christ on earth. The Church He founded is the continued history of Christ 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” (Rev 21:5). This workshop will explore God’s magnificent convocation of souls that we call the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
Throughout the generations, the Word of God has been handed on as a precious jewel. The Church has guarded this Deposit of Faith so that the saving message of hope might shine out for all to see. Now it is up to us. It is our turn to hand on this jewel, unscathed. It is up to us to catechize, continuing the unbroken chain of passing on the faith throughout the ages. The term catechesis comes from two Greek words meaning, “to echo down,” reflecting the call to us to “echo down,” to hand on, the whole of the faith in its saving fullness. This Deposit of Faith is summed up for our times in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We will look at this important teaching tool for catechesis in this workshop, to discover how we, too, can effectively pass on the precious deposit of Christian teaching. And in learning how to do this, we are able to insert our own name into St. Paul’s exhortation, “O catechist, guard what has been entrusted to you.”
“The 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.
St. John Paul II tells us that, “Family catechesis... precedes, accompanies and enriches all other forms of catechesis” (CT 68). These words challenge us to examine our thinking about how to pass on the Catholic faith. The Catechism tells us that, “the family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom” (CCC 2207). Parents teach their children everything and it seems to never stop, regardless of age. The most important lesson parents must teach their children is what it means to be a Catholic. This workshop examines the mind and heart of the Church in regard to the primacy of the family in religious education, and discusses concrete ways to assist families in becoming the first and foremost catechists for their children.
The 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.
A relationship with the Holy Spirit is necessary for all believers. But what does the Holy Spirit do outside of Baptism and Confirmation? What does it mean to have a relationship with the third Person of the Blessed Trinity? He is the Lord and Giver of Life – the very life of our souls. He inspires, guides, encourages, strengthens, makes us holy and desires a relationship with each and every one of us. As we open our hearts to the inspiration and workings of the Holy Spirit, we are made more and more into the image of Christ and transformed through this Fire of Love. In this workshop, we will consider who the Holy Spirit is, His essential role and work in our lives, and how we can be aware of His daily presence.
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 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.
“Are you saved?” This well intentioned and vitally important question, often asked by our separated brothers and sisters, has left many a Catholic struggling for a good answer. Yet consider another question: “How are you saved?” That question is answered by the uniquely Catholic doctrine of the Sacramental Economy. More than simply Catholic rituals, the sacraments are God’s chosen channels of supernatural life, His plan for doing even more than saving us: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (CCC 460). This workshop will explore this extraordinary truth, and the provision of God to grace His adopted sons and daughters for a life far beyond their own natural capacity.
The Trinity is the greatest of all mysteries. And it is the revelation that sheds light on all other Christian mysteries. Yet 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. We will look at this most central truth of our faith, the reason for our being, our final end. Every single liturgical action begins with the Trinity as we sign ourselves in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And everything we do as catechists should point back to God’s nature as a communion of Persons whose life is love.
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.
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.
This workshop gives an overview of St. John Paul II’s magnificent “Theology of the Body” as a foundational Christian anthropology, while also showing its implications for sexuality, morality, and youth ministry. It explores excellent activities, assignments, and resources to use in the ministry situations. Participants in this workshop will ultimately learn ways of using the Theology of the Body to address some of the greatest concerns of today’s teenagers.
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.