The Church calls all who are baptized to be catechists within their families and their communities. Catechesis is a critical way in which we use our Faith to empower one another to learn more about Jesus Christ.
A Catechetical Conference, hosted by Diocese of Venice Department of Education and spearheaded by the Office of Religious Education, provided an understanding as to how to bring Jesus Christ into the classroom as a catechist according to Church teachings.
The bilingual Conference was Sept. 25, 2021 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, and offered catechetical leaders, catechists, religion coordinators and religion teachers a training day aimed at helping them to grow spiritually and professionally. There were nine workshops and several keynote addresses led by renowned speakers presenting a variety of topics rooted in the theme, “Encountering Christ in the Classroom.”
The response from the more than 300 participants throughout the day was overwhelmingly positive. Many cited the variety of options for workshops, the bilingual nature of the event; as well as the enthusiasm of the speakers as reasons for their enjoyment of the day.
“This is great,” said Sister Rosemary Le, FMI, Director of Religious Education at Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers.
Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, expressed her prayers that the Conference was an opportunity for catechists to learn how to better share the Good News of the Lord in their classrooms.
“We broadly define the ‘classroom’ to include our homes, churches and workplaces to show that we catechists can empower our communities to love Jesus, emulate his teachings and embrace our Catholic faith at any time and place,” Chrzan said.
The Conference opened with Mass at neighboring St. Cecilia Parish, celebrated by Msgr. Stephen E. McNamara, Vicar General of the Diocese and Pastor of Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, who was filling in for Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Bishop Dewane was unable to attend the Conference until later in the day.
Workshops ranged from “How to Pray with Children in the Classroom” and “How to Use E-learning Platforms in Religious Education” to “Disciples Making Disciples.” Among the featured speakers were Jared Dees, creator of the website, The Religion Teacher; Ricardo Grzona, founder of Fundación Ramón Pané, a nonprofit organization dedicated to evangelization and spiritual formation; and Dr. Amy Roberts, a classroom methodology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
The day also included the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.
In addition to the Catechetical Conference, Chrzan also hosted a workshop on Sept. 23, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Workshop was led by Dr. Bill Keimig of Franciscan University of Ohio. Kiemig spoke to about 40 catechists regarding the need to follow the proven formal structure of the RCIA process. He noted that by following the process in the way it was created, it ensures that a greater number of new Catholics will remain active in the Faith beyond the first year following the Sacrament Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.