Here is more of my dialogue with an Anglican minister from Rwanda who has been sent to the United States to do missionary work and to form catechists:
I feel similarly blessed by this contact.
The reason why the Rwandan curriculum wouldn’t work in scope (it would to some extent in sequence) is that the general education level in Rwanda is very low and catechist, according to the canons, only have to be able to read and write, basically an elementary education. Also, Anglican parishes, even very small rural ones, tend to have a much higher level of education—college degrees are the norm. (BTW, this is changing in our mission (www.theamia.org) not because of fewer educated people but because of intentional outreach to other groups).
Obviously, in this situation, while we’re not looking for a compressed seminary education, we do need to offer a higher standard. We’re looking at not only teaching methodology and basic pastoral skills, but also doctrinal, biblical, and church historical content.
I’m hoping to move beyond this pilot project at some point and offer it on a much broader scale and use it as a DMin project (yes, I already have a doctorate—I’m just a glutton for punishment).
What I’m especially interested in at this point is how the Catholic Church trains its catechists, both scope and sequence, content and materials.
Thanks and blessings.
Here is my response:
Dear Rev. -N-
Thanks so much for your follow up. This is very helpful.
Catechist formation in the Catholic Church differs from one diocese to another, however, more and more diocese are requiring catechists to become certified, after participating in so many hours of formation and training.
For example, here in Chicago, the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry requires catechists to achieve 50 hours of formation for certification. Now, in reality, most catechists begin their ministry without this formation and then work toward certification while on the job. The requirement, at least in Chicago, is that catechists must be working toward certification and that responsibility falls to the parish director of religious education. Here is the curriculum for Chicago (this is actually the old one which required 48 hours…the new one is not yet posted):
I highly recommend checking the Web sites of other dioceses, big and small, to see what they require. Look for their catechetical office, usually named either the Office for Catechesis or Office for Religious Education, or some variation thereof. Here are a few examples:
You’ll notice that this last link to Brownsville, TX, makes mention of a video series titled Echoes of Faith. This video series is used by many rural dioceses where catechists simply cannot get to central locations for training and formation. It is a very effective tool. Check it out:
Of course, I myself have authored a very popular book titled The Catechist’s Toolbox: How to Thrive As a Religious Education Teacher (Loyola Press) which focuses on the teaching skills and methodologies that volunteer catechists need for their ministry. I have a follow up book coming out this summer titled A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe (of course, this one will be a little too Catholic for you, I’m sure!). This one focuses more on the content, as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I hope these suggestions are a start. I’m happy to talk more after you’ve done some of this initial exploring. This may just scratch the surface of what you are looking for, so by all means, feel free to follow up and we can delve further. It’s a pleasure to be of assistance to you. Peace.
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