Catechists are not teachers of a subject, such as English. A catechist is someone who introduces others to Jesus Christ.

Such was the insight Michelle Angelo offered when speaking about the unique role of a catechist and why they should receive quality formation.

“It’s an important ministry and it’s important that catechists be well prepared for that ministry,” she said. “If they are well formed, then they will have confidence, and if they have confidence, then they will be more effective in the classroom.”

Angelo, associate director on the diocesan Department of Catechesis, reflected on catechist formation as her office prepares to offer “The Art of Catechesis,” a foundational course leading toward a diocesan certificate in catechesis.

“The Art of Catechesis was created specifically for catechists to support and encourage them in the critical ministry that they have undertaken,” said Angelo. “The course aims to help define the role of a catechist and acknowledges that the catechist is responding to a call of faith that originates outside of themselves.”

The program is for new and seasoned catechists and is available in both English and Spanish, Angelo said. She noted that all catechists are expected to be engaged in catechist formation and eventually obtain a Certificate in Catechesis. After completing the course, catechists will be better able to prepare for each class more effectively; engage students in the learning and formation process; more confidently lead, guide, teach and inspire; know available resources for class planning, preparation and execution, and encourage, form and inform a catechist’s own life of faith.

Describing the logistics, “The Art of Catechesis” class is a total of six hours and offered in a variety of formats – one all-day session or three sessions that are two hours each. All classes are offered in parishes throughout the Diocese as well as virtual. Topics that are covered include “The Role of the Catechist;” “Sources and Methods for Catechesis,” and “Tools and Practice.”

The schedule of upcoming Art of Catechesis sessions follows:

In Spanish:

Aug. 26, 7 to 9 p.m. and Aug. 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, 61 Georgia Rd., Freehold. For more information, visit https://dioceseoftrenton.org/el-arte-de-la-catequesis or contact Sandra Lopez at 609-403-7138 or slopez@dioceseoftrenton.org

In English:

Virtual: Session 1, Aug. 9, Session 2, Aug. 16, Session 3, Aug. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Burlington County

 St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton, will host Sessions 1-3 Aug. 6, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Contact Jessica Donohue at jessica.donohue@stjoans.org

Holy Eucharist Parish, Tabernacle, will host Session 1, Aug. 11; Session 2, Aug. 18; Session 3, Aug. 25.  Class times are 7 to 9 p.m. Contact Michelle Angelo at mangelo@dioceseoftrenton.org

Mercer County

St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, will host Sessions 1-3, Sept. 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact Nanci Bachman at nbachman@stdavidtheking.com.

Monmouth County

Holy Cross Parish, Rumson, will host Sessions 1-3, July 30, 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact Sallie Kabash at skabash@holycrossrumson.org

Ocean County

St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant, will host Session 1, Oct. 3; Session 2, Oct. 17; Session 3, Oct. 24. Class times are 6 to 8 p.m. Contact Barbara Rowe at reled@saintmartha.net.

St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, will host "The Art of Catechesis" in two sessions on Jan. 8 and Jan. 22, 2023 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the cafeteria. Contact Debbie D'Agostaro at ddagos@dioceseoftrenton.org

More information about registration for both in-person and online may be found at https://dioceseoftrenton.org/art-of-catechesis-1 or contact Angelo at 609-403-7174 or mangelo@dioceseoftrenton.org.

Once catechists complete “The Art of Catechesis,” Angelo explained they can pursue the theological component of their formation through a seven-week online course offered through STEP/McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. The course, which is led by a facilitator, explores the fundamental beliefs of the Catholic Church professed in the Creed and presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Course work includes attending each session, follow-up writing assignments and supplemental reading.

To learn more about STEP, visit McGrath.nd.edu.

Angelo noted that her department is exploring the possibility of a second online course offering through The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio with the ultimate hope that catechists will have two course tracks from which to choose to pursue certification. Catechists can also enhance their skills and knowledge by participating in formation days that may be held in their parish communities.