Catechetical Certificate Program to expand in second year

BRAINTREE -- A recently-launched program for catechists has gone so well that it will now expand to two locations for its second year.

In October 2009 the Master of Arts in Ministry’s (MAM) Catechetical Certificate Program was launched at the MAM site at 149 Washington Street in Brighton. The program, spearheaded by St. John’s Seminary faculty members David and Angela Franks, provides faith formation and practical classroom training for parish catechists. Next year, it will also run at the Pastoral Center in Braintree in addition to the current Brighton site.

Classes at the Brighton site will be taught by the Franks, and the Pastoral Center classes will be taught by Janet Benestad, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Boston, and her husband, Dr. J. Brian Benestad.

In the upcoming year, the classes will run one Saturday per month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from September to May. There will be no class in December.

Angela Franks commented on her excitement regarding this past year’s program.

“I think it was a tremendous success. It was a pilot year. We were testing the format, curriculum, and syllabus,” she said. “We really hit a home run with it. A lot of people signed up.”

Nearly 60 students participated in the program this year, Franks said.

Classes were held on eight Saturdays over the course of the year, amounting to one Saturday per month and consisted of about 32 combined hours of instruction in topics such as the Trinity, Christ, the sacraments, and moral life. Each day also featured spiritual reflection, talks on pedagogy or developmental psychology and small-group mentoring with experienced catechists. In addition, students attended skills workshops in areas such as classroom management, evangelizing, the liturgical year, and teaching sexuality to youth and young adults.

Franks said the certificate program will add the Braintree location so it is more convenient for those living around the South Shore and to answer the demand for increased enrollment.

“We want to provide this opportunity more regionally,” she said. “We want to expand so more can take it.”

“We had to cap things because of the space,” she added.

This year’s students raved about their experience.

“When I first signed up for the class, I thought it would be difficult to sit for six hours,” said Jane Richard of North Andover. “Honestly there hasn’t been a month that has gone by when I wouldn’t have willingly sat for six more!”

“The Catechetical Certificate program has done more to strength my faith and understanding than [anything else in] my almost fifty years of living,” added Ann Marie Huff of Waltham.

The Catechetical Certificate program starts up again this September.

The charge will remain $250, plus the cost of books. The classroom content is comparable in time and depth to a college course, but the certificate costs significantly less. Students who are not interested in receiving the certificate can choose the attendance-only option for $150.

In addition to the catechetical certificate, St. John’s Seminary will also offer a companion certificate in Catholic theology in the fall of 2010. This program will meet on Wednesdays for one semester from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Master of Arts in Ministry site in Brighton. Classes will focus on evangelization and defending the faith. The cost for this program is $300. Monthly meals and retreat opportunities will be included.

To view schedules for 2010-2011 and to register, go to

The Master of Arts in Ministry program is an advanced degree curriculum for the laity at nearby St. John’s Seminary. MAM celebrated its ten-year anniversary in March.