‘Different’ Summer Institute accomplishes goal for catechists

Photo Caption: Deacon Michael Mannino of Galesburg and his wife, Molly, look over catechetical resourses offered by exhibitors at the 2010 Summer Institute.

By: By Jennifer Willems

Mission accomplished.

Dr. Vincent McClean, director of the Office of Catechetics, said he was very pleased with the feedback from the reconfigured 2010 Diocesan Summer Institute, which was held June 11-12 at St. Vincent de Paul Church and School in Peoria.

“The focus this year was to have every catechist leave with something in their hands of a practical nature to use in their classroom, something about the doctrine of the church, and something about spirituality, both personal and that which they could communicate,” he said. “I think we reached that goal.”

The theme for this year’s event was “Let My People Come” and celebrated the life of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the El Paso native who is being considered for sainthood.

The institute began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and included 17 workshops, presentations by grade level, and a special track on spirituality for catechists. Of the 273 participants, 142 people attended the Friday workshops, 40 came to the Saturday workshops, and 122 took part in the overview of a 20-part study called “Epic: A Journey through Church History.”

Walking them through the Ascension Press program was author Steve Weidenkopf, a lecturer of church history at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. “Everybody just loved him,” McClean told The Catholic Post.

While there were fewer workshops, they were expanded from 50 minutes to 90 minutes to allow more time for participants to ask questions and share ideas with one another.

“We also incorporated publishers in the presentations to each grade level,” which worked out well, McClean said. “They emphasized the material and actually discussed how it could be used in the classroom.”

He added that the track on catechist spirituality seemed to be very much appreciated by those who attended.

“Father Andrew Apostoli, John Michael Talbot and Father Tim Nolan dealt with the spirituality and they all did a superlative job in giving catechists a practical idea about spirituality and how to teach that,” McClean said.

Father Apostoli is vice postulator for Archbishop Sheen’s cause for canonization and was also keynote speaker for the institute, and John Michael Talbot is a renowned musician and spiritual leader, but Father Nolan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Pekin, was an “overwhelming favorite,” according to McClean.

“It was a different institute than in the past,” he said. “I think the ones that came got what we intended them to get.”

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