New catechetical standards launched for Year of Faith Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Patrick Delaney, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 -- 12:00 AM
Abbott Marcel Rooney teaches a Seat of Wisdom class at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison, one of many being offered for Catholic school teachers and catechists on the new Catechetical Standards being implemented in the diocese. (Catholic Herald photo/Kat Wagner

MADISON -- As the Diocese of Madison prepares for the Year of Faith, it is perhaps by Divine Providence that our parishes and schools will also be implementing a new body of Catechetical Standards for grades Pre-K through eight in the 2012-13 academic year.

Beginning with a process initiated in early 2011, a committee was assembled by the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis to assist in drafting these new standards.

The committee consisted of priests, parish catechetical leaders, Catholic school principals and teachers, and diocesan staff.

Having come to an early consensus that the standards would be based on the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, subcommittees were formed to give special attention to each of these respective pillars.

Following the completion of this process, diocesan staff completed an editing process to ensure consistency among the respective subcommittee drafts in general approach and content, submitting them to Bishop Robert C. Morlino for his approval.

The Year of Faith

In the midst of this process (October, 2011), Pope Benedict XVI called for a Year of Faith to be observed by the Universal Church.

As the opening date of this special year (October 11, 2012) marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Father has asked the faithful to study the documents of the council along with the Catechism, as the latter remains “one of . . . [the council’s] most important fruits.”

Indeed, an emphasis on catechesis and a more effective and systematic distribution of the contents of the Catechism in our general educational efforts remains a clear point of emphasis for Pope Benedict in this year.

It is his hope that each of us makes a “concerted effort to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith that receives its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

For in studying this synthesis of divine revelation, one encounters not just a “theory” but indeed, “a Person (Jesus Christ) who lives within the Church.”

Like the woman at the well in St. John’s Gospel, this authentic encounter with the person of Christ should naturally serve “to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.”

Bishop Morlino promulgates standards

In early June Bishop Morlino promulgated our set of Catechetical Standards with an official canonical decree and a pastoral introduction. Bishop Morlino’s pastoral letter made the connection with the Year of Faith calling it “joyfully fitting” that we will be implementing these new catechetical standards as we begin this special year.

Echoing Pope Benedict’s call to encounter Christ through the study of the Catechism, the bishop continued, “In drawing generously and systemically from Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these new standards offer an excellent foundation for drawing all participants, catechists and students alike, into deeper communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ, for ‘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’ (Bl. John Paul II, On Catechesis in Our Time, 5).”

New features

One enhanced feature of the new standards is that almost each of their respective benchmark doctrines provide a very specific citation to the particular paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church from which they were drawn.

These citations make it very easy for Catholic school teachers, parish catechetical leaders, and catechists to easily look up the broader context and explanation of each doctrine in the Catechism while crafting their lesson plans.

Such an exercise inclines the catechist to enter the Catechism and encounter Jesus Christ in a new and deeper way, equipping us each to be more fruitful witnesses and teachers of the Gospel.

The new standards also provide an emphasis on the necessity of beginning any course of catechetical instruction with an age-appropriate presentation of the story of salvation history.

The context of this summary of the faith provides the proper foundation for the rest of the course’s catechetical instruction. It allows the student to more easily situate each subsequent doctrine within the broader context of salvation history, facilitating better understanding of the faith.

The new Catechetical Standards including Bishop Morlino’s pastoral letter and canonical promulgation are available for download on the Diocese of Madison Web site found at

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

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