Catechists blazing the trail’ for the Year of Faith Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Patrick Delaney, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Aug. 09, 2012 -- 12:00 AM
To learn more
More Seat of Wisdom classes on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and (as a special offering during the Year of Faith) on the documents of Vatican II will be offered for the general public.
To observe the current list of courses, to register, or to read hundreds of comments from Seat of Wisdom class participants, go to the diocesan Web site at

MADISON -- Last October, Pope Benedict XVI released his apostolic letter Porta Fidei (“The Door of Faith”) announcing a Year of Faith to begin for the Universal Church on October 11, 2012, and concluding on the Feast of Christ the King, November 24, 2013.The primary aim Pope Benedict has for this special year is “to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.”

He also intends this year to be “a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist,” and to “intensify the witness of charity.”

The opening date for the Year of Faith, October 11, is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and also the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

During the Year of Faith Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith, encounter Jesus Christ in a new and deeper way, and “rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”

The Holy Father tells us that this is particularly important “for those concerned with the formation of Christians, so crucial in our cultural context.”

Catholic educators

Although there will be many opportunities for all of the faithful in the Diocese of Madison to respond to this important call from the Holy Father this coming year, most appropriately this trail is being blazed by our dedicated Catholic school principals and teachers beginning August 15 at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison.

Due to the collaborative work of pastors and principals, along with Bishop Robert C. Morlino and the staff of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, Catholic school teachers will be afforded two work days to study and be refreshed in Catholic doctrine in courses on the Catechism of the Catholic Church offered by the Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute throughout the diocese.

Due to the “great importance” of the role of our school teachers and parish catechists, Vatican II called for the creation of institutes like Seat of Wisdom, so catechetical educators “may study Catholic doctrine . . . be refreshed in the disciplines and skills useful for their ministry” and have “their spiritual life . . . nourished and strengthened.”

The Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute was created in response to this call from the Second Vatican Council and the certification requirements for Catholic educators as first promulgated by the Catholic bishops of Wisconsin in 1975 and most recently updated in 2008.

In the last two and a half years the Diocesan Institute has sponsored more than 120 courses, ranging from five to 12 hours each, in over 30 different locations in the Diocese of Madison, serving over 1,465 students.

With the grace of God, the results of these courses have been quite positive, and in Porta Fidei Pope Benedict provides some explanation of just why this might be the case.

By “rediscovering and studying the fundamental content of the faith” as presented in the Catechism, Pope Benedict explains how the participant does far more than consider a series of ideas, but indeed meets a person. He tells us “On page after page, we find that what is presented here (in the Catechism) is no theory, but an encounter with a Person (Jesus Christ) who lives within the Church.” And this encounter naturally evokes a new conviction, a deeper love of Jesus Christ, a “joy of believing,” and an “enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”

Joy in rediscovering faith

Participants in Seat of Wisdom classes studying the Catechism have expressed this joy in rediscovering the fundamental content of the faith, with its greater depth of teaching most appropriate for adults.

• Catechist John Schroeder from Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Beloit writes, “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… I would ABSOLUTELY recommend others take advantage of these classes.”

• Tina Schoebel, director of religious education at St. John the Baptist Parish in Montello agrees: “Though I’ve been a parish DRE for 18 years and earned a Religious Education degree, attending the Seat of Wisdom course in Sacred Scripture made me realize there was much more to learn. Our catechists and I not only learned more but were spiritually fed. We look forward to [more classes]!”

Encountering Jesus Christ

Hearing the catechetical truth professed by the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, often elicits that encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ referred to by our Holy Father.

All of our Catholic school administrators and faculty, along with many parish catechetical leaders, will be participating in these courses on the Catechism in the months ahead. Please keep each of them, and their presenters, in your prayers.

Patrick Delaney is director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis of the Diocese of Madison.

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