MADISON — In the fall of 2009, the Diocese of Madison's Office of Evangelization and Catechesis (OEC) started the new Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute (SOWDI), a program of catechetical certification and adult faith formation.
Patrick Delaney, associate director of the OEC, explained why Seat of Wisdom was chosen as the name for this new program. "'Seat of Wisdom' is one of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the Son of God, the Eternal Wisdom, took flesh from her womb and as an infant rested in her arms," he said.
In The Splendor of Truth, Pope John Paul II said, "In pondering her divine Son Jesus Christ, Mary 'became the model of all those who hear the word of God and keep it' (cf. Lk 11:28), and merited the title 'Seat of Wisdom.'"
Added Delaney, "With Holy Mary as our model, the SOWDI seeks to serve the catechetical mission of the Church in leading the faithful to study and ponder the 'mystery of Christ' and, accordingly, put them 'not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity' (John Paul II, Catechesi Tradendae)."
Bishop Robert C. Morlino recently wrote to priests in the diocese about the new Wisconsin Catholic Conference Standards for Educators in Catholic Parishes and Schools. The Seat of Wisdom program is the vehicle for completing the diocesan certification requirements in the Standards, particularly relevant for school teachers and catechists.
Successful first year
In the first year of the SOWDI, the diocese sponsored 37 courses, of generally six to 12 hours each in 18 different locations throughout the diocese. The program served around 450 students (principals, teachers, DREs, catechists, and interested adults). The only location where the entire Basic Curriculum was presented was at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison.
"With the blessings of the Holy Spirit, we had an excellent and fruitful initial year of the Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute," said Delaney. "The evaluations of the participants were consistently very positive. They expressed a joy in knowing Christ and His Church better, and therefore an enhanced disposition to sharing greater intimacy with Jesus Christ and desiring to evangelize."
"The classes were not only enjoyed by the participants, but I myself very much enjoyed being catechized by the other instructors and the participants. Jesus Christ always speaks to us when we prayerfully study Him and the teachings of His Church," added Delaney.
Positive comments from participants
Participants in the Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute also gave very positive comments:
"I have been praising the Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute since its joyous beginning in October. The core educators, from the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, are excellent instructors of our faith. Additionally, we were treated to a captivating array of guest lecturers which included clergy and laity — all with impressive, extensive resumes and postgraduate degrees," said Kathryn Wittwer of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Lake Mills.
"Having attended Catholic grammar schools, a Catholic high school, and teaching in a Catholic high school, I still found out there was so much I didn't know about the Church and its history. My wife and I found the courses to be very informative and educationally worthwhile; we intend to take additional courses for our own spiritual development . . . I would ABSOLUTELY recommend others take advantage of these classes," said John Schroeder, catechist at Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Beloit.
"The information presented was very enriching for me. After almost 30 years teaching in the Catholic schools, I was again reminded that there is always more to learn!" said Jean Lange, principal of St. Mary School in Platteville.
"As a participant I was amazed and thankful for the high level of teaching shared within the days of the institute. The teachings were taught with enthusiasm and truth. I learned so much," said Mary Lou Haas, who described herself as a "person in the pew" from Cathedral Parish in Madison.
"I thought the Seat of Wisdom program was very comprehensive and I like how it follows the format of the Catechism and the Compendium of the Catholic Church. These courses will help me better understand and be able to share the doctrine and richness of our Catholic faith with my students and help facilitate the faith formation of youth in this parish. I believe every catechist in the diocese would benefit greatly from taking these courses," said Paul Kachelmeier, catechist at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison.
More comments from participants can be seen at the Seat of Wisdom Web site at http://www.madisondiocese.org/seatofwisdom
Program offered in summer
Courses on Sacred Scripture, the creed, and the sacraments are offered this summer at the Bishop O’Connor Center, June 14 to 17 and August 9 to 12. Graduate credits will be offered through Edgewood College in Madison for those (especially teachers) who choose that opportunity.
Registration and more information is available on line at http://www.madisondiocese.org/seatofwisdom or by calling 608-821-3160. Dates and locations for fall and spring will be forthcoming soon.