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Catechist Boot Camp…and so Much More

Lay Leaders take part in two-week catechist formation retreat at Sacred Heart.

by Patricia Chase

There were many reasons to attend the catechetical training offered at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in June. Some attendees teach religion in a Catholic school, while others were required to attend the training as catechists in parish faith formation or the RCIA process. Some however, just felt called to learn more about their faith.

For two weeks, every attendee received the opportunity to learn about Jesus and the Church in a grace-filled environment which encouraged prayer, formation of community, networking, and the opportunity for ongoing faith formation. The goal of catechesis, according to The National Directory of Catechesis is “to enter the mystery of Christ, to encounter him, and to discover themselves and their meaning of their lives in him (NDC, 19). This goal is the foundation used for the planning of catechist formation by Sacred Heart’s Institute for Lay Ministry in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s office of catechesis.

by Patricia Chase

Each day began with praise and worship, opportunities for prayer, a retreat, Eucharistic adoration, and reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The topics of “Evangelization,” “Meeting Jesus,” and “Sacred Scripture,” led the schedule and were followed by topics which addressed the missionary call of the catechist, the Church, sacraments, morality, and prayer. 

The catechist formation is based on the Archbishop of Detroit, the Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron’s call for evangelization. As he wrote in his pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel, “For Christ’s disciples in the Church of Detroit to be able to answer his call to evangelize, they need to have the appropriate formation. As Paul shows in this passage in Ephesians, the role of leaders in the Church is not to do all the ministry but to ‘equip the holy ones for the work of ministry’—that is, to mobilize, form and train all the members for carrying out their mission of building up the Church (Guidepost 4).”

Lizandro Barba, a catechist at St. Alfred Parish in Taylor, Michigan, had his faith deepened through the stories shared by the people at his table. “I struggled with not knowing why we did certain things,” Barba said. “I gained a sense of meaning and fulfillment in doing the work of Jesus, so that as a catechist I can teach little kids and others.”

The participants also learned more about the certificate and degree programs offered by the Institute for Lay Ministry, and the generous financial assistance opportunities. Many attendees enrolled in other programs at Sacred Heart to continue the education gained from the catechetical training. 

Laurie Weber, a catechist at St. Joseph Parish in Trenton, Michigan, shared that although she has been Catholic all her life, she was deeply moved by the depth of the teaching—particularly about using lectio divina, a form of meditation—to help her young students hear God speak to them through Sacred Scripture. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “Anyone who wants to know more about their Catholic faith should just come. Your faith is going to blossom like never before.  I know mine has.”  

For more information or to register for future catechist formation topics or other catechetical education opportunities in the Archdiocese of Detroit, visit

Patricia Chase

Patricia Chase is a regional coordinator of catechetics for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.