Series to support volunteer catechists throughout diocese

VOLUNTEER catechists throughout central Illinois have been asking for assistance with classroom management, curriculum development, lesson planning and formation in Scripture and Catholic doctrine, and that help is on the way.

Starting this month, the diocesan Office of Catechetics will offer “Let My People Come,” a yearlong series of presentations at parishes around the Diocese of Peoria. The sessions, designed to include about 30 minutes of input as well as time for questions and discussion, will be given by priests, regional directors of religious education, and Dr. Vincent McClean, director of catechetics.

He said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, would also be involved, serving as the celebrant of one of two “explanatory” Masses planned for March and October.

The goal is to help the catechists and directors of religious education to “meet the needs of the kids in front of them,” McClean told The Catholic Post.

NOTING that the Diocese of Peoria is blessed with many excellent and faithful volunteers, McClean said most of them are not trained as teachers. The topics for “Let My People Come” were culled from discussions he has had with the religious educators as he travels the diocese.

In addition to background in teaching techniques, such as classroom management and lesson planning, “we are looking at giving catechists a sense of confidence when it comes to the essential doctrines that the church teaches,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for a catechist who is a volunteer to organize material so that they address the basic doctrine of the church that kids need, both in terms of sacramental preparation and just in general background and scriptural foundation for the faith,” McClean explained.

“We’re also trying to promote a spirituality among catechists. It is our thought and their thought, too, that you really can’t give what you don’t have,” he said.

THE SCHEDULE for “Let My People Come” demonstrates the broad scope of what the Office of Catechetics is offering. All sessions begin at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted:

— “FRANgelization,” 10 suggestions for evangelizing friends, relatives, associates and neighbors, will be given by Father Douglas Grandon, parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Moline, on Thursday, Jan. 28, at Immaculate Conception Church, 125 N. Fayette St., Carthage.

— “Who Needs Confession” will be presented by Father Mark DeSutter, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton, on Thursday, Feb. 11, at Blessed Sacrament, 225 E. Greenwood St.

— “Lesson Planning” will be discussed by Alan Anderson, regional DRE, on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Cross Church, 405 W. Clark St., Champaign.

— The first of two “explanatory” Masses will be celebrated by Father Timothy Nolan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, 303 S. Seventh St., Pekin, on Thursday, March 18, in the church.

— “Christology” will be presented by Msgr. Charles Beebe, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate, on Thursday, March 25, at St. Hyacinth’s Church, 927 Tenth St., LaSalle.

— “Classroom Management” will be offered by McClean on Thursday, April 22, at St. Anne’s Parish Hall, 555 18th Ave., East Moline.
ALSO ON the schedule are:

— “Mother Mary and the Year of the Rosary” on Thursday, May 27, at St. Patrick’s Church, 1209 W. Locust St., Bloomington. The presenter will be Father William Miller, IC, pastor of Corpus Christi and St. Patrick’s in Galesburg, and Sacred Heart in Abingdon.

— “Parent Meetings” will be discussed by Sharon Priester, regional DRE, on Thursday, July 22, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church of Merna, 1001 N. Towanda Barnes Road, Bloomington.

— “Curriculum Guidelines” will be presented by McClean on Thursday, Aug. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Columba’s Church, 122 W. Washington St.
l Bishop Jenky will celebrate an “Explanatory Mass” on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m., at Holy Cross Church, Champaign.

In June, participants are encouraged to attend the Diocesan Summer Institute, which will be held June 11-12 at St. Vincent de Paul Church and School, 6001 N. University St., Peoria. This year’s keynote speaker is Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, vice postulator for the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

The final activity in the “Let My People Come” series is a retreat for directors and coordinators of religious education, which will be held Nov. 12-14 at Nazareth House in rural Henry.

WITH THE exception of the Summer Institute and the November retreat, all of the presentations are free and open to parishioners as well as catechists, according to McClean.

Registration is not required, although he suggested that those who are interested call ahead and let the host church know they are coming.

McClean added that participation in these enrichment opportunities is voluntary and should not be confused with the catechist certification program being offered in cooperation with Christendom College in Virginia.

For more information, contact the Office of Catechetics at (309) 671-1550.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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