Catholic School Teacher Catechist Formation

Relevant Documents and Forms:

 

Catechists are persons who pass on their love of Jesus Christ through example, prayer, and teaching. This requires a personal commitment to Jesus as God and Savior and is expressed through active participation in the Liturgy, personal prayer, moral living, and continued study. The catechist also recognizes a calling from God to the work of catechesis. Through proper discernment, they recognize the gifts, strengths, and desire to fulfill this great work.

Any person who answers the call to the mission of Catechesis has the right to be supported in their work by vigorous coursework through which they receive the formation they need to succeed. The Office of Catechesis provides such a process which will help the Catechist grow in knowledge and love of God as well as proper approaches and methodologies of catechesis. Without this personal commitment and the developed skills for teaching, catechesis simply doesn’t happen. Below you will find the list of steps for how to complete this formation process. The workshops listed will be offered live by local instructors so that Catechists have the option of live or online formation.

The Diocese of Lansing has partnered with the Catechetical Institute of Franciscan University of Steubenville at Franciscanathome.com/Lansing to provide formation online.

Online formation opportunities have pros and cons. While they make formation more accessible to everyone they lack the personal contact that being in class with an instructor and other learners provides. To help with this our online offerings require the use of a mentor to guide learners through their workshops. The mentor provides guidance, a sounding-board, and accountability for the learner. This helps the learner process the information without simply watching a video to get credit. The workshops on the CI include tasks that require brief readings, personal reflections, prayer and conversations to aid the learner. This provides material to which the mentor may respond.

Each Institution will provide their own mentors. (see document on mentoring and/or contact Tim Carpenter in the Office of Catechesis for more info). DRE’s, Principals, Lead teachers, and Lead Catechists generally make good mentors. The Office of Catechesis provides mentor training which will help form the mentor for this task.
 

How to Receive Catechetical Certification:

  1. Attend Kerygma Encounter retreat (https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/KE-Retreat)
  2. Be assigned to a Mentor (Assigned by your Principal, DRE, or the Office of Catechesis)
  3. Complete workshops (see list below) for each level of certification under the guidance of a mentor
    • Workshops are completed only after a mentor has approved the completed work on the CI system.

Principals and Catechists should maintain records of completed workshops. A form is available for record-keeping. The CI will maintain this data online for completed workshops.  

 

Step One: Kerygma Encounter Retreat

This retreat has been written specifically for the catechist. It is imperative that catechists hear, contemplate and respond to the mysteries of God's plan which make up the content of this retreat. It is a one-day event and will be hosted around the Diocese throughout the year. Check back to our 'home' page, "Parish Religious Education", where we will list the opportunities to attend this wonderful event.
All school teachers, new and veteran, will attend a Kerygma Encounter retreat as part of their certification process. The Office of Catholic Schools includes the Kerygma Encounter in their new teacher retreat each year in August.

 

Step Two: The Five Steps of Mentoring:

(see below for description of these five steps.)

  1. Faith Sharing with Mentor or Peer Catechist
  2. Observing Experienced Catechist
  3. Curriculum Mapping
  4. Being Observed/Evaluated
  5. Reflection with Mentor


Step Three: Workshops

(Here is a suggested process for completing the program.)

Year One:

  • The Mission of Catholic Schools and the Role of Teachers
  • Sacred Scripture: The Big Picture
  • Teaching Catechesis for Conversion

Year Two:

  • The Human Person*
  • Jesus: The Christocentricity of Catechesis
  • Essential Link Between Liturgy and Catechesis

Year Three:

  • The Human Person in God’s Loving Plan*
  • The Four Last Things
  • The Role of Prayer*

Year Four:

  • Praying with Scripture: Lectio Divina
  • Elective*
  • Elective**

* Denotes workshops which will be credited for teachers who participate in TOB formation at their institution.

** You will have access to hundreds of workshops on the CI learning system. To fulfill electives (and enrichment) Principals or Mentors should direct Teachers to Workshops appropriate for them. Here are a few workshops to consider: “Confirmation Preparation”, “The Preventive System of St. Don Bosco”, “Introducing the Liturgy to Children”, “Introducing the Scriptures to Children”.

It is not required that courses be taken in the above order but the Office of Catechesis deems this the most suitable order.


Keeping Record of the Process:

DOLdata.com will no longer support record-keeping for new teachers who begin this coursework. All the existing data will remain in the database for future reference. The Office of Catechesis will implement a new data management system in the near future. Courses completed on the CI will be recorded in LMS. If you wish to keep these on file, please use paper form which reflects the new course work. The form is located in the "Resource" section of the sidebar on this page.


Transferring Catechist Certification coursework from other Dioceses:

We have many catechists who come to us from other dioceses. Many of them have had excellent catechist formation. We also have parishes that have used excellent formation materials along with our catechist formation program. We wish to acknowledge these where the formation is equivalent to ours. If you have a teacher who has completed coursework in another Diocese please contact the Office of Catechesis to inquire about obtaining credit for completed work.

 

Next Steps for Principals:

  1. Registration on the Catechetical Institute (CI) of Franciscan University of Steubenville
  2. Check to see if your school and/or parish is already registered at www.franciscanathome.com/Lansing (See handout for registration instructions)
  3. Identify existing Mentor’s from among your faculty and staff. If none have been chosen, discern who would be good at fulfilling this role. (see document on mentoring and/or contact Tim Carpenter in the Office of Catechesis for more info)
  4. Invite them to discern with you if they are called to this ministry
  5. mentor training:
    1. Complete all five online courses (3-4 hrs. each)
    2. Attend live Mentor Training at Diocese (Sept. 25, other dates TBD)
  6. All new teachers should begin the coursework listed above. They may register an individual account on the CI and begin taking coursework.
  7. Veteran teachers who have already begun catechist formation under the former DOL system may continue to do so with the list of equivalencies provided. (see handout)

 

Mentoring a Catechist

How to fulfill the steps of Mentoring in the Catechist Formation Program

How to Complete Mentoring (PDF version of this information)

*Please note: the title “Catechist” refers to teachers in Catholic Schools as well as Catechists in parish Religious Education Program.

  1. Faith Sharing with Mentor 
  2. Serving Experienced Catechist
  3. Curriculum Mapping and Choosing Resources
  4. Being Observed/Evaluated
  5. Reflection with Mentor


Faith Sharing with Mentor – 
   Principals and DREs: The workshops in the Catechist Formation programs are intended to foster growth and maturity in the personal life of the catechist. Mentors are trained to set that goal as their top priority when discussing workshop content with the catechist.  We wish to foster a personal and lively discussion about our faith and about the ways that Jesus has affected our lives. (Cf. Mark 5:19)


Observing an Experienced Catechist – 
All potential catechists/teachers should observe an experienced catechist before they lead in a classroom.  

For Principals: Teachers would have done a good deal of general classroom observation while studying for their certification.  Depending on the types of classrooms they observed they may be eligible to receive credit for this step.  It is best that teachers observe religious lessons where Gods’ pedagogy will be on display. Teaching religion, especially with younger children, should be different than teaching subjects and so it is best for a teacher to observe an experienced and successful catechist when they begin teaching. This can should happen in the first semester after being hired.

For DREs: This can be a valuable step in the discernment process for a potential catechist. The DRE should use this step for a potential catechist who they have begun to mentor. If the DRE recognizes that a person has the skills necessary and has a call from God to be a catechist, having them observe an experienced catechist will be a very valuable step. After the potential catechist has completed the observation they should discern in prayer and then discuss with the DRE in an effort to discern their potential as catechist.
Ideally a potential catechist would operate as an apprentice to an experienced catechist for some time, possibly a year, which would allow long-term observation of the experienced catechist and formation of their own. During this time the potential catechist would be able to complete many, if not all, the appropriate formation course, ‘Foundational Catechetical Certification.’


Curriculum Mapping
Principals and DREs: The content that we teach in religious education is set into a curriculum by the bishop and administered jointly by the Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Catechesis.  Depending on the grade, the DRE/Principal determines (with pastor approval) which resources and/or textbooks will be used to fulfill the requirements of the curriculum. The catechist begins to map out the course of lessons according to the curriculum. After a thorough introduction to the curriculum the catechist would then develop lesson plans. A teacher’s manual from a textbook series will help as a resource but is not sufficient in and of itself. Other resources need to be used. 

 

Being Observed/Evaluated
For Principals: You are instructed to observe your Teachers on a regular basis.  It is important that you observe them teaching religion once or twice a year to help them develop the best techniques possible in passing on the faith. 

For DREs: Once a catechist has completed the previous steps and completed the formation courses they can be trusted to begin teaching. This may occur while they are assisting in the classroom of an experienced catechist or in their own classroom. The DRE or mentor should observe the new catechist in action and perform a proper evaluation using an approved evaluation form (check with the Office of Catechesis for the appropriate form).
    The DRE should follow-up this observation with appropriate attention given to both strengths and weaknesses of the catechist. The intention is to help the catechist rely on their strengths and develop their weaknesses so to meet the needs of their students. We are working to form them, encourage them, and to build them up. The catechist should be encouraged to discuss their evaluation, including their strengths and weaknesses, with their mentor. 
    Every catechist should be evaluated at least once a year.


Reflection with Mentor
    Principals and DREs: It is important that the mentor maintain a good level of interest in the Catechist by engaging in regular conversation with them. Individual conversation or small group discussion among a group of catechists led by a mentor will suffice.  This should be as natural as possible. The mentor can seek out the catechist before or after class for a quick conversation.  This would include conversation about how catechesis is going, how the students are responding, how formation coursework is going, etc. The mentor will need to be intentional about planning for these and making them happen.  
    The mentor should also plan to have these discussions with their mentees at the end of each year. This provides an opportunity for the mentee to reflect on the year as a whole, the personal growth they experienced, assessment of their catechetical work with their students, and to discern about next year’s plan for teaching.  For volunteer catechists this is a good time to discern with them about their plans to continue in the ministry the following year.