The Easter Season is called “mystagogia,” a time of deep immersion into the mysteries of the church, especially the sacramental life and instruction that was given to the newly baptized. In many ways, this is a time of renewal for all of us to become better disciples, followers of the Lord Jesus. In some ways, the entire church enters “mystagogia.” Learning about our faith and our faith journey is a lifelong process. We need to realize that we will never understand everything and that we can continue to grow in faith, knowledge and holiness.
One of the best ways to grow in faith and knowledge is to become a teacher of the faith called a “catechist.” We learn more thoroughly when we have to teach something. When we teach something we think we know, we realize how much more we have to learn.
Just before Easter we had a celebration of a real accomplishment in the diocese, the official promulgation of the Catechist Certification Program of the Diocese of Green Bay. This program has been in development for several years and is one of the few attempts in the country to make our catechist certification program spring from and be based upon the United States Catholic Catechism of Adults. I directed this to be done in my pastoral letter, “A New Moment for Catechesis in the Diocese of Green Bay,” published in 2009.
Thanks to the hard work of many people — and recently, most especially, Sr. Jacqueline Spaniola of the Department of Education here at the diocese — this training will be conducted for the next few years across the diocese in many different locations by expert trainers who are knowledgeable in the field they teach. They will help the next generation of catechists and Catholic school teachers to assimilate this training and deepen their faith and knowledge of the catechism (USCCA) so that they are better prepared to teach our children and youth. The classes will also be open to anyone from the parish who is longing for a review of their faith, or for others who have not had much formation or education in the teachings of the church.
I firmly believe that this program, over a given period of years, will make a huge change in the competence and integration of the faith for our teachers, catechists and parishioners. Those who already have degrees in theology or religion and teach in our schools or catechetical programs will also benefit from the review, although their past education will also be recognized in the accreditation process. I myself have been through the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults and find it refreshing and enriching. Also, our employees here at the diocese are going through the text and finding it very helpful in understanding the faith and the church in a deeper way.
One cannot exhaust the tremendous knowledge and heritage of the Catholic Church in one lifetime and maybe not in many lifetimes. Thanks to all of you who are teachers and catechists in our schools and religious education programs. Enjoy the adventure!