By KATIE BORKOWSKI
STORM LAKE – Catechetical leaders from around the Diocese of Sioux City looking for a jumpstart to their catechetical year are invited to participate in the Fall Gathering on Aug. 24.
The event will be held in the parish center at St. Mary’s in Storm Lake. All catechetical leaders – directors of religious education and faith formation, youth ministers, adult faith formation leaders and catechists – are encouraged to attend.
“We surveyed catechetical leaders in the diocese as to which day of the week, which time of the day and which week leading up to the start of the religious education year would be best for them to attend this event,” said Fred Shellabarger, director of evangelization, catechesis and family life. “We wanted to ensure it really was the best date/time for the most people.”
The theme for the Fall Gathering, “Living as Missionary Disciples,” is taken from the USCCB’s theme for the catechetical year.
“Given the recent convocation on the Joy of the Gospel in America, our efforts to foster a culture of evangelization and authentic and intentional discipleship, as well as where we are in our diocese in light of Ministry 2025 and the talk of ‘vibrant parishes,’ it is an entirely relevant and appropriate topic,” said Shellabarger.
The gathering will begin at 3 p.m. with social time followed by the welcome at 3:30 p.m. Father Michael Cronin, parochial vicar at Storm Lake St. Mary and Early Sacred Heart, will present on the topic of Missionary Discipleship. Shellabarger will offer a presentation on Catechesis for Discipleship.
Catechesis for Discipleship
Essentially, Shellabarger explained, he will talk about how “catechesis,” if it is true to the meaning of the word and the church’s intentions, is discipleship.
“Meaning, not merely imparting information, but, it (catechesis) is an apprenticeship in the Catholic life – an apprenticeship characterized by good content and customized delivery, relationships and mentoring,” he said. “Catechesis is a process of shared prayer, shared fellowship, shared learning and shared mission.”
Shellabarger added catechesis is also “an apprenticeship characterized by the words, teach, try and do; where attention is given to the spiritual, pastoral, intellectual and human dimensions of formation.”
The event will conclude with dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by Adoration and confession.
According to Linsey Hoard, assistant director of religious education and family life, it is important for catechetical leaders to have community.
“That is one of the things we strive to provide through our Fall and Spring Gatherings,” she said. “It’s a chance to get together with people throughout the diocese and commiserate about the joys and as well as the hardships of ministry.”
On a practical level, Hoard added it’s also good to meet catechetical leaders in other parishes because “you know who to go to when you need fresh ideas and advice.”
“We try to make the gathering both practically beneficial as well as spiritually beneficial,” she said. “As catechetical leaders we spend so much time pouring into other people’s spiritual lives, we need to make sure that we are taking the time to ‘fill our cup,’ so to say.”
The aim, Hoard pointed out, is for participants to walk away feeling “spiritually rejuvenated, but also rejuvenated in their calling to build disciples and grow the kingdom of God.”
The gathering also provides some useful resources/ideas/practices that can be of use in the parish, Shellabarger noted.
“Ideally, we also provide some spiritual fuel for catechetical leaders heading into this new year,” he said. “My hope is twofold: 1) That attendees will be able to take some of these ideas back to their parishes. 2) I hope to learn from the attendees how we can better serve the parishes of our diocese to make this kind of catechesis (discipleship) a greater reality.”
Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Kari Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug. 17.