By FRED SHELLABARGER
The Catholic Church places a great emphasis on the formation of catechists. Pope St. John Paul II emphasized that proper training and ongoing formation is essential to catechesis: “This is a fundamental duty, in order to ensure qualified personnel for the church’s mission, with good training programs and adequate structures, providing for all aspects of formation – human, spiritual, doctrinal, apostolic and professional.”
Catechists who are well-formed in the faith will pass it on with confidence, knowing that what they are handing on is the pearl of great price.
Well-formed catechists seek to encounter Christ every day. These catechists are excited about the faith and cannot wait to pass it on. Well-formed catechists do not just transmit information about Jesus but have met the Lord Jesus Christ himself and are excited for others to meet him as well.
To achieve that level of comfort with Christ, initiatives like Basic Catechist Certification and Excellence in Catechesis have been implemented. As a diocese, we want to be able to provide for catechists’ own spiritual growth. Indeed, since the church speaks of serving as a catechist as a “vocation,” it is an authentic pathway to the holiness that we are all called to.
It is also important that catechists be equipped to hand on the faith in the variety of settings they find themselves in. Different intelligences, different learning styles, different cultures and a variety of other circumstances are all important considerations when handing on the faith.
The faith must be conveyed so that it has the possibility for it to be heard, understood, taken to heart and integrated into life. It is a vital task, one that may require some preparation and even sacrifice. However, it is worth the effort.
With that in mind, Excellence in Catechesis (EIC) is back. St. John Bosco is our patron, as he is a tremendous model of “excellence in catechesis,” and in many ways, a prime example of what good catechesis should look like.
This is part of a larger effort to train and develop lay leaders and catechists in our diocese. EIC provides opportunities for catechist formation, practical training, application, networking and fellowship for catechists and catechetical leaders throughout the Diocese of Sioux City.
Topics will include How to Read the Catechism, Liturgy in Catechesis, Lesson Planning, the Person of the Catechist, Teaching to Different Learning Styles and the Role of Prayer in Catechesis. We are blessed to have a diverse group of wonderful speakers from around the diocese.
Although the sessions are arranged by deanery, catechists are welcome to attend other sessions outside their deanery, if they so choose.
The dates are Sept. 24 in Hospers; Oct. 1 in West Bend; Oct. 15 in Jefferson and Oct. 22 in Sioux City.
Catechists may register for an optional $5 meal at 6 p.m. for each session, or simply RSVP for the sessions without dinner; in that case the evening would start at 6:30 p.m. and there would be no charge.
To learn more, visit scdiocese.org/excellence-in-catechesis.