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Institute for Lay Ministry, Archdiocese partner on new catechist formation program

Sacred Heart and Archdiocese collaborate on a new formation and certification process based on Encounter-Grow-Witness

by Editorial Team

The Institute for Lay Ministry is pleased to be partnering with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship to present a new catechist formation process for the Archdiocese of Detroit based on the Encounter, Grow, Witness evangelization paradigm of Unleash the Gospel

On Fire for the Faith is designed to provide catechists in parish faith formation programs (children, youth, adults, RCIA, etc.) and Catholic elementary schools with an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ and grow in a solid foundational understanding of Catholic doctrine that they might be better equipped to pass the Catholic faith and build up Christ’s Mystical Body,” explains Dr. Matthew Gerlach, Dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry.  

To this end, On Fire for the Faith begins with an in-person retreat centered on the ‘encounter’ phase , followed by “Embark on the Journey,” an overall orientation to the catechist formation and certification process.  The heart of the process is found in four mini-courses corresponding to the four pillars of the Catechism: Profession of Faith, Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ, and Prayer.  Each course is presented by a powerful combination of Sacred Heart instructors and professional lay leaders from the Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship and other highly regarded lay ecclesial ministers from parishes of the Archdiocese. 

The four online mini-courses are delivered through Sacred Heart’s Equip platform, the seminary’s online learning and formation platform launched by the Institute for Lay Ministry back in 2019 with its first open online course, “Beauty of Belief,” which now has over six courses currently available.  On Fire for the Faith continues on this trajectory with each course being offered online, allowing participants to go at their own pace and pause for intentional, prayerful reflection on what they are learning. 

But the four courses are not intended to be merely online studies. As an integral, in-person aspect of the process, participants will meet several times with a facilitator who will guide them through prayerful reflection on the subjects presented and coach them toward effective practical application in the actual ministry of catechesis. For those seeking formal catechist certification, an internship is also required, which will be completed in conjunction with the parish or school. As a whole, this hybrid formation experience, partly online, partly in-person, takes the best of both formats to provide a high quality, high impact catechist formation and certification available on a rolling basis.  

“I am enthused about On Fire for the Faith,” says Sr. Kathleen Matz, Associate Director for Discipleship Formation for the Archdiocese, “especially because the Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship and the Institute for Lay Ministry were able to collaborate every step of the way. The delivery system integrates information and formation with reflection questions and the presenters are professors from Sacred Heart Major Seminary and Archdiocesan Professionals.”

“The unveiling of On Fire for the Faith comes at a perfect time,” continues Sr. Kathleen Matz, “since, on May 11th, Pope Francis has just formally instituted the ministry of catechist in the apostolic letter, Antiquum Ministerium. The document states that catechists should receive ‘suitable biblical, theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation’ to succeed in their roles. On Fire for the Faith combines each of these elements in a fascinating manner.”

While this new process is open to all the faithful throughout the Archdiocese who want to learn more and share Jesus Christ with others more effectively, it is specifically geared toward all those who work or volunteer in a catechetical ministry of a parish or Catholic school. 

Registration for On Fire for the Faith is now open at The first two mini-courses, “Profession of Faith” and “Celebrating the Christian Mystery,” will be available June 28. “Life in Christ” and “Prayer,” the second two mini-courses, will be available in July. 

To register or request more information about On Fire For the Faith, visit

by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

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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.