Catechist Corner

It's all about sharing the faith.

School Break

Sorry it’s been so long since you guys have heard from me.  I forgot just how much of a commitment taking a course requires; and if you think that because it’s an online course you can coast through it, don’t be fooled.  If you want to get the most out of an online course, you still need to commit just as much time to it. 

I have to admit that the whole structure of an online course took some getting used to.  It really does require a certain amount of self-direction and motivation that differs from a course with a physical classroom setting and an instructor.  The role of the facilitator for this type of course is to guide and provoke discussion more than it is to teach.  Most of the education comes from reading material, exercises, reflection and discussion with other students through the use of discussion boards.  Once I adjusted to the structure, I could appreciate this method of learning much more. 

As for the course itself, the “Catholic Beliefs” course at the VLCFF was great!!  It allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of many of the basic teachings of the Catholic Church, thereby helping further deepen my faith.  We focused on various topics including the purpose and true meaning of the Creed, and compared the three versions of the Creed used by the Church since its inception.  Did you know there were three Creeds?  We also learned what the true teaching of the Church is regarding Papal Infallibility, the difference between Church “Tradition” and “tradition”, the intent of the Second Vatican Council for the Universal Church and the importance of community in catechesis, especially as it relates to children.  I had definite misconceptions about some of these teachings and so did many of my classmates. 

A course like this can definitely be humbling.  Just when you think you know a lot about the teachings of the Church you realize that your knowledge may be superficial at best.  Most of what we know go so much deeper then we realize and has a much broader meaning then what is commonly known.  Do you really think about the words of the Nicene Creed when you recite it as Mass?  When you really focus on it and understand its deeper meaning, you begin to appreciate just how powerful this statement really is!! 

I have two weeks between courses.  Starting on August 30th, I begin the second course for my certification.  I’m looking forward to “Introduction to Catechesis” and I anticipate that I will be taking more courses beyond those required for my certification as time goes on.  There is so much to learn.

Back to School

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.comBackpack – Check!

Notebook – Check!

Pens and Pencils – Check!

Loose Leaf Paper – Check!

Pocket Folder – Check!

Brain – Question_Mark

As you know, I’m going to be working towards my diocesan Catechist Certification over the next few months and my first course starts next week.  As you can see, I’ve got all my school supplies ready.  Unfortunately, they are all going to sit in the closet unused.  Why?  Because for the first time ever, I’m going to be taking an online course and, aside from the books I have to read, I’m going to do this “paperless”.

Starting tonight at midnight, the mystery will be revealed to me.  When I wake up tomorrow, I will have access to the course materials and the course will start the following day.  I’ve known this was coming for quite a while, but somehow I don’t feel ready.  I’m not sure if it’s because it is Summer and it feels like “slow down” time or if it’s because it has been eight years since I’ve been a student in a class, but I’ve becoming somewhat apprehensive about it.

As I reflect on this, it hits me.  This is the exact same feeling I felt when I was trying to decide whether or not to help our parish out by becoming a Catechist.  Apprehension.  Insecurity.  A feeling that maybe I’ve made a mistake and this is just not for me.

This made me recall a homily given by a new priest, Fr. Hugh Macsherry, OFM at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston last Wednesday.  During that homily, he spoke about discernment.  It wasn’t just about the traditional discernment of a vocation, but about discernment of what we are called to do in all parts of life and at all points in life.  A big part of discernment is trust.

You’d think that by now I’d have this figured out.  It is time to put aside my doubt once again and begin to trust.  I need to trust that the Holy Spirit is calling me to further my faith so that I can help further others’.  Maybe it’s time to put a check next to “Brain” too?  I think I’ll keep that school supply with me though.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll need that one.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on my progress.

*”Back to School” clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on Discoveryschool.com.

Recharging the Batteries

Recharging BatteriesWith the Summer upon us, things have a tendency to slow down.  That’s exactly what’s happened with me.  I’ve realized that it is time to recharge the batteries, so no informative, insightful, witty (okay, I’m not really witty) posts this week.  This week you get more of an update post.

I’ve registered for my first class, Catholic Beliefs, at the VLCFF as part of the Catechist Certification program for the Archdiocese of Boston.  The online class begins on July 12th and goes for 6 weeks.  I also received my book for the class, Being Catholic by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, which I look forward to diving into.

Additionally, I got confirmation this week that I will, in fact, be teaching 6th Grade again next year.  I had told our CRE that I could be flexible if she had a greater need for another grade, but the 6th Grade is where I will remain.  I’m excited about this because I think the more you work with a grade level, the more you grow in understanding, appreciating and delivering the material.

Lastly, I’ve started to notice a pickup in SPAM hitting the blog these past few weeks, which means one of two things.  Either (1) the blog is getting more popular, or (2) I’m an easy target.  I hope it’s 1, but just in case it’s 2, I’ve added CAPTCHA to the comment box to help fend off the spammers.

Well, that’s it.  Short and sweet.  See you guys soon, either here or at the Online Retreat for Catechists at Catechist’s Journey.  ;)

He’s Certifiable!, or Catechising the Catechist

Lock him up!I’ve always found stories with two titles intriguing, like Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus & The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned.  So, since I couldn’t quite decide between two titles for this post, it got two.  Now, while my students and family may have their own opinions, I don’t think I’m technically crazy; however, it does seem that I’m certifiable.

Allow me to explain.  The Archdiocese of Boston, like many diocese throughout the country, has a certification program for catechists.  It’s primary purpose is to allow catechists to become formed in their own adult faith. It provides the opportunity to update and renew a catechist’s understanding of Catholic teachings in an adult context. Additionally, it can provide greater confidence to both a catechist’s ministry and personal growth as a disciple of Christ.

The Archdiocese offers three ways to obtain the certification, all of which consist of three courses.  Option 1 is through courses taught by an instructor for a total of 17 two-hour sessions. These courses are held at various locations throughout the Archdioceses.  Option 2 is through a video series that is led by a facilitator.  This would be for a total of 16 two-hour sessions and also are held at various locations throughout the Archdiocese.  Both of these require traveling to various parishes and is dependent on a parish sponsoring them.  Because of my schedule, I’m concerned that timing may be challenging for both these options, so I decided to go with Option 3.

The Archdiocese has also partnered with the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) to offer online learning courses for adults.  Among their many courses are two that qualify for the certification program.  They are Catholic Beliefs, which focuses on Catholic doctrine and the process of theology through which doctrines develop in the Roman Catholic Tradition, and Introduction to Catechesis which focuses on the purpose, tasks, and content of catechesis.  In addition to these two courses, they offer many more on various subjects, ranging from basic to advanced levels, that can help any individual grow more deeply in their faith and knowledge.  Additionally, if you live in a partnering diocese like I do, you get over a 50% discount to their modest course fees.  Ultimately,  I would still have to go to one live two-hour session called “Roots of Our Faith” to complete the certification requirements, but that’s quite manageable and I guess someone should meet me face-to-face before certifying me, huh?

I will begin taking my courses in July with that session’s registration period opening up next week and I will only be taking one course per 5 week session.  I’ve heard very good things about the VLCFF so I’m looking forward to starting my course in July.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in a school setting where I wasn’t the one teaching and I’ve never taken an online correspondence course before, so I hope I can adjust not only to a school environment again, but to taking a course that is not in a classroom setting.  I ask for your prayers in that regard.

Thanks and God bless.