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Catechist certification continues

By FRED SHELLABARGER

The Basic Catechist Certification has three objectives: 1) To develop the faith and knowledge of all catechists in the Diocese of Sioux City; 2) To enhance the catechetical community throughout the Diocese of Sioux City; and 3) To provide venues and learning opportunities of the universal “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Since its promulgation in August of 2012 by Bishop Walker Nickless, continued progress has been made toward the goal to have all of the possible 1,700 catechists in the diocese certified by August of 2015.
Presently, just over 50 percent of those have been certified. We have come a long way, but much work is still to be done. Absolutely essential to this success has been the generous contribution of the 65 BCC presenters across the diocese. These presenters are comprised of clergy and other parish leaders. The goal was to train 75 such facilitators by August of 2015 and we are well on our way to achieving that goal.

The temptation can be to see only those directly involved in religious education and ministry in the parish as catechists, but that is not true. Indeed, school administrators and teachers are also catechists, albeit in their own distinct way. For this reason, the BCC includes not only those involved in religious education and ministry, but also teachers and administrators.

The purpose of the Basic Catechist Certification can be found in the BCC handbook: “[It] ensures that the catechist has been minimally formed and prepared to properly catechize others. The catechist must seek to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ, and in so doing will desire to lead others to have faith in the Lord.” As Bishop Nickless says in his pastoral letter, “We cannot give what we do not have; we cannot fulfill our mission to evangelize, if we ourselves are not evangelized.”

Recently, the Office of Catechetics gave a presentation in which it offered a summary of the fruit that the BCC has provided:

The Basic Catechist Certification has been well received by catechists throughout the diocese.
Many have noted on their application for certification that the workshops have given them more confidence in delivering the faith to their students as well as helping them to better understand the Catholic faith for themselves.

Several Catholic school teachers have even expressed a desire to join the Catholic Church as a result of the information they received in the workshops.

Over the course of the next year, efforts will continue toward the goal of certification for 100 percent of the diocese’s catechists. At the same time, options will be explored for advanced certifications. Priests, parish leaders, and BCC presenters will be consulted about what ways the BCC can be improved, whether or not needs are being met, and what may be desired of advanced levels of certification.
\Delivery methods of the workshops and presentations will be examined; for example, would an online delivery format in addition to in-person training allow for greater participation? In the meantime, BCC workshops will continue to be offered, as well as additional supplemental workshops, particularly on “Catechetical Methods.”

Fred Shellabarger is assistant director of adult catechesis and family life for the Diocese of Sioux City. For more information on catechist certification, contact him at (712) 233-7532 or freds@scdiocese.org.

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