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St. John’s Seminary introduces Catechetical Certificate

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In order to empower teachers and parents to evangelize and catechize more effectively as they engage in their duty to pass on the faith to young people, the Archdiocese of Boston will be offering a Catechetical Certificate course for the 2009-2010 academic year. The certificate will be offered through St. John’s Seminary’s Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) Program.

Led by Drs. David and Angela Franks, Associate Directors of the MAM program, the catechetical program will provide instruction on the major topics of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” background on helpful teaching techniques to effectively reach youngsters, and spiritual development through working with mentors.

“One of the biggest issues with regards to evangelization is proper preparation of those who evangelize,” said Janet Benestad, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization for the archdiocese.

“(The certificate program) offers an advanced approach to catechesis and evangelization in conformity with the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church.’ Novice and veteran catechists alike will benefit. Adults seeking to deepen their faith will find it spiritually nourishing and doctrinely sound,” she said.

The Catechetical Certificate program will meet for eight Saturday sessions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the new location for the Master of Arts in Ministry program at 149 Washington Street in Brighton. The program will begin on October 10, with subsequent meetings on Nov. 14, Dec. 5, Jan. 9, Feb. 6, March 13, April 10, and May 8. In addition, participants must attend two catechetical workshops of their choice, held on weekday evenings and weekends throughout the duration of the course.

Saturday sessions will address topics of catechetical pedagogy or developmental psychology, including the Trinity, the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, Scripture, liturgy and the sacraments, morality, prayer, and how children and adults learn. During lunch, those on the certificate track will be able to spend time with mentors who will provide valuable, personalized feedback to each participant.

Most importantly, each Saturday session will give students the opportunity to deepen their prayer life through guided spiritual reflections.

In addition, skills workshops will be offered on weekday evenings and weekends in order to teach valuable practical skills connected to catechesis. The workshop topics include Living the Liturgical Year, Teaching about Sexuality to Youth and Young Adults, Transformative Learning and Evangelization, Evangelizing and Teaching Youth and Young Adults, and Classroom Management.

“This is an initiative designed to bring together a number of things -- academically good, solid doctrine, spiritual development, and pedagogy,” Benestad said.

This catechetical program is offered both for those who wish to attain a certificate from the archdiocese and those who wish to benefit from additional theological knowledge, spiritual development, and faith enrichment. The cost for those on the certificate track is $250, while the cost for the attendance-only option is $150. Individual Saturday sessions may be attended for $20, and those not participating in the certificate program may attend skills workshops for a per-class fee of $10.

“The hours of instruction are comparable to a three-credit college course, which can cost $1,500 or more,” noted David Franks. “In addition, the cost of the certificate includes books, the mentorship program, and two skills workshops. It is a bargain by any measure.”

He added that prospective students are encouraged to talk to their pastors about sponsorship for the program.

The program will emphasize the connection between catechesis and evangelization, following the lead of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.

“The Catholic faith is inexhaustibly rich,” said Franks, who teaches full-time at the seminary. “Jesus draws us into the adventure of catechesis, the searching of His mystery, to fill us with joy and to enable us to share this joy with all people. The Church exists for one reason only: to communicate, at an existential level, the infinitely overflowing, sacramentalized love of Christ, so as to make every person into a saint.”

The entire program will provide 32 hours of theology instruction, called the “theology core.”

“The vital center of the program is the theology core,” said Franks. “It will lead students more deeply into the pulsating heart of the Catholic faith by presenting the grandeur and glory of the life of Christian discipleship.”

Completion of the program will be recognized by the Archdiocese of Boston for catechetical certification, Benestad said.

The program, however, is not only for parish catechists, but Catholic school teachers, parents, and other adults who want to learn more about the faith and deepen their spiritual lives as well.

Expanding the programs for evangelization and catechesis is in harmony with recent archdiocesan efforts promoting lay faith formation in order to live out better the lay mission in the world.

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