Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Committee’s work for new diocesan catechist formation and certification program sees ‘substantial progress’

by Dr. Duane Schafer, for the Inland Register

(From the July 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Jesus calls each of us to proclaim the Good News to all whom we encounter and to hand on his message to our future generations. Although all baptized members of our Church are called to participate in the Church’s catechetical ministry, some are called more specifically to the role of catechist.

According to the National Directory for Catechesis (NDC), published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Parents, parish catechists, teachers, Catholic school principals, parish catechetical leaders for adults and children, youth ministry leaders, those who work in diocesan and national catechetical offices, deacons, consecrated Religious, priests, and bishops are all catechists with distinctive roles” (#53).

The NDC breaks down the process of catechesis into six fundamental tasks:

• Catechesis promotes knowledge of faith.
• Catechesis promotes knowledge of the meaning of the Liturgy and the Sacraments.
• Catechesis promotes moral formation in Jesus Christ.
• Catechesis teaches the Christian how to pray with Christ.
• Catechesis prepares the Christian to live in community and to participate actively in the life and mission of the Church.
• Catechesis promotes a missionary spirit that prepares the faithful to be present as Christians in society.

The objective of these six tasks is the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ, and it is the catechist who participates directly in this fundamental evangelical service.

People from many different backgrounds are called to this special role of catechist. These women and men bring a variety of experiences, knowledge and skills to this unique role. As a result, however, there is a wide diversity of competence, and so it is important that all catechists be appropriately formed as catechists.

“Programs for formation,” says the NDC, “should be designed to help them acquire the knowledge and skills they need to hand on the faith to those entrusted to their care and assist them in living as disciples in Christ” (#55). These formation programs should help the catechist to understand the nature of catechesis, familiarize the catechist with appropriate resources, provide formation in the knowledge and understanding of our Catholic faith and practice, and encourage the importance of ongoing study. Furthermore, these programs need to foster a deeper practice of daily prayer in the catechists and help them develop their own spiritual lives.

After several years without a formal diocesan catechist formation and certification program, a small diocesan ad hoc committee has been formed to review previous diocesan certification processes, explore catechetical formation and certifications programs from around the country, and develop a renewed catechist preparation and formation program in the Spokane Diocese. Although this new process is not completely formulated, the committee has agreed on several basic principles:

• There should be a variety of paths through which individuals can obtain Catechetical Certification in the Diocese of Spokane.
• The process will consist of both local and diocesan resources.
• The use of webinars occasionally can be made available for those living outside of the Spokane area.
• The new process primarily will be a video assisted program, using both Echoes of Faith Plus and Father Robert Barron’s DVD-based Catholicism series.
• The process also will include several face-to-face presentations throughout the year from some of our local priests, vowed Religious, and laity, who have the knowledge and skills necessary to enrich those seeking certification.
• There will be three levels of certification: Initial, Basic, and Advanced.
• Everyone will be required to participate in a minimum of six hours of ongoing formation annually in order to maintain certification.

Although the Certification Committee still has much work in order to finalize the catechist formation and certification process, there has been substantial progress. The final process will be outlined in detail on the Spokane Diocese website ( when it is completed and has received final approval.

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