Catechetics at Franciscan: Our Vision
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
(MT 28:19-20a) This Great Commission of Our Lord closes Matthew’s Gospel. With it, Christ charged the Apostles to spread the Good News of salvation throughout the world, setting the world ablaze with the love of the Father. This mandate continues to animate the Church and comes to us through the ages, passed along faithfully from one generation to the next.
The Catechetics Program at Franciscan University of Steubenville exists to prepare students to join the “army of catechists” called for by the late Pope Saint John Paul II, eager to help the Church in her mission of making all nations disciples of Jesus Christ. We combine a thorough study of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and magisterial documents with training in proper and effective pedagogical techniques to help our students grasp the intelligibility and coherence of divine truths, and to pass them along effectively.
Founded in 1994 by then President Fr. Michael Scanlan, Chair of Theology Dr. Alan Schreck, and Professor Barbara Morgan, the Theology Department’s Office of Catechetics developed both an undergraduate degree in Religious Education and a graduate Catechetics specialization as part of the MA Theology Program. Alumni from these programs are now working as directors of religious education and adult faith formation at both the parish and diocesan levels, pastoral associates, campus ministers, youth ministers, catechetical writers, heads of religious education departments, and teachers in high schools and elementary schools. Students, including priests and religious, come from throughout the United States, and from countries such as Canada, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Australia, Belize, El Salvador, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Israel, England, and Ireland.
The demand for graduates of Franciscan University’s Catechetics program results from the unique combination of theological knowledge, pedagogical theory, and practical training students acquire in our program. Our professors make this integrated training possible, bringing a wealth of knowledge and broad experience from years of study and transmitting the Gospel through many different avenues.
Our approach embraces three aspects: pastoral, doctrinal, and liturgical. These points, from the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC), will help aid in understanding the university’s role in the formation of catechists:
- To give a comprehensive and systematic catechetical formation: the Christian message, knowledge of man and his socio-cultural situation, and the pedagogy of faith (GDC 249).
- To ensure the working of the catechetical ministry…it is fundamental to have adequate pastoral care of catechists (GDC 233).
- Any form of pastoral activity [catechetical ministry] is placed at risk if it does not rely on truly competent and trained personnel (GDC 234).
- The christocentric purpose of catechesis, which emphasizes the communion of the convert with Jesus Christ, permeates all aspects of the formation of catechists (GDC 235).
- By virtue of the fact that formation seeks to make the catechists capable of transmitting the Gospel in the name of the Church, all formation has an ecclesial nature (GDC 236).
- Formation also constantly nourishes the apostolic consciousness of the catechist, that is, his sense of being an evangelizer (GDC 239).
- The formation of catechists must also cultivate technique (GDC 244).
- It is necessary for catechists to have a deep faith, a clear Christian and ecclesial identity; as well as great social sensitivity. All formation programs must accommodate these points (GDC 237).
- Formation, above all, nourishes the spirituality of the catechist, so that his activity springs in truth from his own witness of life (GDC 239).
The Office of Catechetics at Franciscan University of Steubenville has consistently responded diligently to this need for renewal in the area of catechesis. In light of the above and embracing the practical guidance proposed by the Church today, the Office of Catechetics aspires to follow closely the divine mandate which comes from Christ through the Church.