Archdiocese takes catechist, school teacher training online

By Michelle Martin
Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catechists and Catholic school teachers will have a new way to learn about the church and experience spiritual formation.

The program should help catechists and teachers grow in their own spiritual lives as well as teach the faith to children and teenagers, said Father Peter Wojcik, director of the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry.

“It’s about ongoing engagement in the faith,” he said.

The office is piloting an online program this spring with plans for a full roll-out after July 1. The goal, Wojcik said, is to get all catechists in the archdiocese fully certified.

The office has run spiritual formation and catechesis programs in the past, but only a small percentage of catechists reached the level of being fully certified, Wojcik said.

The new program, at the first level, emphasizes knowledge of the Catholic faith and ways teachers and catechists can witness to the faith, he said. It includes 25 hours of instruction, which can all be completed at the catechist’s convenience on line, and one in-person retreat.

The program is put together by My Catholic Faith Delivered and is used by 44 dioceses across the United States, Wojcik said.

The second level of certification will allow teachers to choose their course to fit their needs, Wojcik said.

It will be required for everyone teaching in religious- education programs and for all Catholic school teachers, whether or not they teach religion.

The previous program required 50 hours of in-person classes for certification, and then asked for no further education or formation for five years.

“It was too complex,” he said. “And it was difficult for some people to go to the classes. A lot of people wanted to be certified, but they just couldn’t.”

Before putting together this plan, the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry asked 700 pastors and lay leaders what they wanted to see, and surveyed 4,000 catechists. Some of them weren’t aware that there was a certification program before this, Wojcik said.

Christine Alfred, the director of religious education at St. Hugh Parish in Lyons, said she supports the idea of a certification process with an online option, although she would like to see deaneries and parishes be able to offer in-person classes as well.

That would be helpful for people who want to discuss the material as they learn it, she said.

Wojcik said the online program’s advantages include its convenience and the ability to deliver the same material in English, Spanish and Polish.

Some parishes have also expressed concern about the cost for the program, which is $139 for the first level. The To Teach Who Christ Is campaign has raised money to fund some scholarships, Wojcik said, and some parishes may cover all or part of the cost for their catechists. Payment plans also will be available for people who want to pay it off in installments.

The second level of certification, which is expected to take two years to complete, will cost $150.


  • catechism
  • technology

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