Bishop’s Appeal helps diocese educate the educators

By | February 11, 2010

BALogo2010web2And it takes time, expertise and money to bring those services to the Diocese of Green Bay.

“That all happens from this Education Department,” said Bartel. Why give to the 2010 Bishop’s Appeal? The answer for her is simple: “So that we can continue to provide quality education to all people,” she said.

Directors of religious education out in the field and their catechists are empowered to bring the teachings of the church to young people attending religious education programs, as well as adults going through the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) in preparation for becoming members of the Catholic Church.

And that requires consistency.

That’s why the Department of Education debuted its new Catechetical Certification Program in September 2009. “There’s always been a certification program,” Bartel explained, but this new program has a different twist. In addition to the components that give catechists the tools they need to be an effective educator in the classroom, the new certification program’s ultimate purpose is to help catechists better understand their Catholic faith.

The certification program is “knowledge based” and teaches the “sound basics of the faith,” said Bartel.

All of the dioceses in Wisconsin “are working towards a better certification program,” she said, but Green Bay is the first to come up with a systematic approach.

“It takes time and money to develop it,” said Bartel. She said she herself is probably “out on the road” four nights a week doing education programs throughout the diocese as the program is rolled out.

“Our goal is to make it very affordable,” she continued. So far only a limited number of people are trained to teach the certification program, but that will change as instructional materials are fully developed. Because of its systematic approach the goal is that directors of religious education will ultimately be able to present the training within their parish to catechists.

Course work will also eventually be available online to catechists in the diocese as well.

Currently the Diocese of Green Bay has a relationship with the University of Dayton for online course work that would fulfill the requirements of the new certification program. The university generally charges about $90 per course, but catechists from the Diocese of Green Bay pay only $30 to $40 for each course because of this arrangement.

Sally Korbisch is the coordinator of religious education who is featured in the promotional video created by the Catholic Foundation to promote the 2010 Bishop’s Appeal. She serves the four-parish Catholic community of St. Mary in Leopolis, St. Mary in Marion, St. Anthony in Tigerton and Holy Family-St. William in Wittenberg. Her office is in Tigerton, which means a lot of driving. She and her husband, Matt, also own Korbisch Tree Farm.

Overseeing educational opportunities for young people as well as the RCIA program and adult education are part of her full-time position.

“I chose Sally because of her passion and her commitment, said Bartel, explaining, “Her passion is just contagious.

Korbisch has a lot of experience. She had been a catechist for 17 years before being asked to coordinate the program. “I prayed about it and I took that on,” she said.

That was six years ago. She said her faith life guides all that she does and she readily recounts when her life was changed by a “profound experience of God.”

“It’s going to be 30 years and it seems like yesterday,” she added.

And now her role is helping others find the Lord in their lives. Teaching others “has many blessings,” she said. “The blessings that you get just because you said ‘yes’ to him, it changes you,” she added.

With the support she received from Fr. John Girotti, former pastor, and from the previous director of religious education, Karen Hendrikson, she is exuberant about her role in “passing on this awesome Catholic faith.

“We’re on the edge of western front out here,” she joked about their location in the Diocese of Green Bay. Their immediate neighbors lie in the Diocese of La Crosse. And yet her four-parish community is in the thick of educational opportunities, she said, with Leadership Days, Administrator Days and Team Days. “Just having Rosie Bartel on the other end of the line, that makes all the difference,” said Korbisch.

Bartel has been traveling to the four-parish community to provide the new certification training. Bartel noted that Fr. Girotti often tells catechists the following: “Remember, you might be the only face of God these children will see this week. Make the most of this hour.”

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