Opportunities for Formation
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CATECHETICAL FORMATION
The National Directory for Catechesis says that those called to the ministry of catechesis should be generous with their time and talent, open to deepening their understanding of the theology and methodology necessary for teaching, and be able to communicate faith and knowledge effectively through word and deed. Catechists are called to continual conversion and growth in their faith. They should continue their own spiritual formation, should be provided with opportunities for spiritual growth and should also receive pedagogical formation as society, teaching methods and culture change.
Catechetical formation and training for our catechists, youth ministers and Catholic school teachers is an ongoing process in the Albany Diocese with opportunities occurring at the parish/school, cluster, deanery/vicariate, diocesan and national level, as well as over the internet. These include:
Basic Certification Retreats for Catechists of Children or Youth Ministers
For many years, a popular approach for completing four of the eight basic certification topics has been a day-long training program covering four of the topics so that the retreatant leaves with their “Provisional Certification” as either a Catechist of Children or a Youth Minister. While parishes, clusters, deaneries or vicariates may hold their own basic retreat (after contacting Steve Mawn at the Catholic School Office for resources to do it themselves), the Diocese also schedules several of these each fall.
In October & November, 2017, the Catholic School Office will be offering three certification retreats for Catechists of Children in Round Lake, Greenville & Amsterdam.
Throughout the year different parishes, schools and deanery catechetical associations arrange to have one or more classes offered for their catechists, youth ministers or teachers. Contact your parish/school’s catechetical leader to find out about local or nearby opportunities that you might be able to take part in.
Each year the Albany Diocese holds a multi-day formation program called “Spring Enrichment” offering anywhere from 100-150 separate workshops, most counting towards diocesan certification. This coming year Spring Enrichment will run from Wednesday, May 16 – Friday, May 18, 2018 at the College of Saint Rose in Albany.
Specialized opportunities for Catholic school teachers
All new Catholic school teachers are expected to take part in the “New Teacher Orientation” program offered by the Catholic School Office. By their participation in this orientation they receive credit for four basic certification topics – some by actually taking part in classes, others by grant of competency credit by the Superintendent of Schools.
Once again in 2018 the teachers in our 22 Catholic schools will be taking part in their annual Faith Formation Day – when they take courses towards their own diocesan catechetical certification – at Spring Enrichment on Friday, May 18.
Video/DVD based Instruction
Echoes of Faith is a video-assisted process of formation for parish catechists, Catholic school teachers and facilitators of adult faith formation. A project of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), produced by RCL Benziger, it is reported to be the most complete and widely used catechist formation resource ever developed. Originally released on VHS tape in the mid-1990’s, the newer Echoes of Faith Plus is distributed in DVD format with redesigned booklets, new spiritual formation components in every module, bonus interviews with experts in theology and catechesis and references to the latest catechetical documents. The Compendium of Certification Topics (which is part of the Albany Diocese’s Guidelines and Policies for the Formation and Certification of Catechists, et al), includes a topic level correlation with Echoes of Faith Plus’ offerings so that leaders and catechists can see which modules apply towards which of our certification topics.
On-Line Formation for Catechetical Ministers
- Echoes of Faith 3.0
The latest version of Echoes of Faith is an online program, available 24/7 over the internet. Building upon the content and resources of the DVD based Echoes of Faith Plus, EOF3.0 is adding new courses to their collection. Echoes of Faith 3.0 and its predecessors are the most widely used catechist formation program in North America.
While an annual subscription to EOF3.0 generally costs $34.95, the Catholic School Office has purchased a large number of subscriptions and can offer them to individuals, parishes and schools for $14 each. A subscription provides access for 365 days from the day the end-user activates it to all of the program’s courses and materials. The correlation between EOF3.0’s courses and our certification requirements.
For general information on the program go to echoesoffaith.com; for information about the discounted subscriptions available from the CSO, contact Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- My Catholic Faith Delivered
We have been working with My Catholic Faith Delivered since 2014 to provide several different opportunities for on-line classes leading to catechist certification in the Albany Diocese. Currently MCFD offers six classes - with varying numbers of lessons - that will count towards our certification requirements: Catechesis 101, four Foundations classes (Creed, Liturgy & Sacraments, Life in Christ, and Prayer & Spirituality) are $29 each (or you can sign up for all four Foundations classes for $59, a $57 savings, and Scripture which is $39. The correlation between MCFD’s course offerings and our diocesan catechetical certification requirements.
Catechists, youth ministers and Catholic school teachers may register individually or their institution may register a group of people. Parish/school catechetical leaders may opt to become group administrators for their institution so they can access details on their parish's/school's registrants' progress. For details go to www.mycatholicfaithdelivered.com/albany. Individuals, parishes/schools register through the website directly.
Some publishers and other providers offer webinars that touch upon content included in some of our certification topics. While many of these are worthwhile, especially to give participants new ideas and insights, they are not necessarily suited to meet our certification requirements. Many of these programs are relatively short (15-40 minutes) or include several topics within an hour’s timeframe, making it more difficult to keep track of how they fulfilled the typical two contact hours per topic requirement of our diocesan certification guidelines and policies. Catechists, youth ministers and Catholic school teachers should discuss this with their local catechetical leader; if leaders have questions they should contact Steve Mawn at the Catholic School Office.
- Online Formation Programs sponsored by colleges and universities
There are several college based online formation programs currently available that our catechists of children, youth ministers, catechists of adults, intergenerational catechists and Catholic school religion teachers could take part in to complete requirements towards their initial and ongoing formation leading to diocesan certification. These include:
While courses offered by these schools offer the luxury of doing them at your own convenience (within certain scheduling windows) they do offer far more than what is required for certification by the Albany Diocese and are also more expensive than our traditional live formation classes. If you would like information as to how these offering correlate with our diocesan requirements, please contact Steve Mawn at the Catholic School Office or refer to the latest edition of our Certification Topics and Options for Fulfilling Their Requirements resource.
Mentoring and Independent Study
Catechetical/Youth Ministry Leaders in parishes and Catholic School principals or their designees may serve as mentors to their catechists, youth ministers or school teachers and may form their catechists, youth ministers or teachers either in a one-on-one or small group format covering a topic in a single session or over several months. Using the recommended resources for independent and further study included in the Compendium of Certification Topics in our Guidelines and Policies for Formation & Certification as a basis, they can also recommend books, websites and other resources to help their people pursue either independent or further study of required certification topics.
Catechetical and Youth Ministry Leaders at the parish who have received their own leadership certification from the diocese and Catholic School principals are authorized to evaluate their catechists, youth ministers and teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the required basic and intermediate certification topics and to grant “competency credit” thereby exempting them from one or more required certification topic. Criteria for granting such credit is included in the Compendium of Certification Topics and if they have any questions on this they should contact Steve Mawn at the Catholic School Office.
It must be noted that this only scratches the surface of possibilities for structuring the initial and ongoing formation of catechists, youth ministers and Catholic school teachers leading to their diocesan certification. Catechetical and Youth Ministry Leaders are encouraged to attend the Becoming a Minister of Faith Formation (BAMOFF) session on Catechist Formation and Certification for updates on these alternative methods.