Seventy new master catechists receive certificates

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Seventy new master catechists from nine parishes received their certification April 29 at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton. Father Paul F. deLadurantaye, secretary for religious education and sacred liturgy, was the celebrant and homilist at the ceremony.

The Master Catechist Training Program is sponsored by the Office of Catechetics and is supported by diocesan parishes, which enroll candidates for this specialized training in catechist formation. Since its inception in 1991, the program has certified 308 master catechists, including this year's class.

To receive certification, candidates must complete a two-year coursework in theology, Scripture, adult development and education theory, and methodology. Persons commissioned as master catechists are certified to conduct catechist training and formation, workshops and sacramental catechesis in diocesan parishes.

In his homily, Father deLadurantaye asked the congregation, "What does God want from us? Tonight's reading answers that question - to go and make disciples."

Father deLadurantaye said it is incumbent upon all Catholics, especially the new master catechists, to be witnesses to Jesus Christ, to gather others and let them know about the Lord.

"Tell others the Good News, which was meant for the whole world, and lead others to the faith," he said.

The field of evangelization for most of us is not some distant part of the world, but rather in our homes, parishes and neighborhoods, he said.

For the graduates, he said, it extends beyond their families and into their parishes as they teach in religious education programs, lead Bible study programs and adult faith formation groups.

"There's a principle that says, 'No one can give what he or she doesn't have,'" he said. "Give to others what you yourselves have learned.

"Like the first apostles, our graduates are being sent out to proclaim the Gospel," he said. "Many in our world today need to hear that saving word."

One of those receiving her certificate Friday night was Michelle Peters, a second-grade religious education teacher at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville, who watched her students receive their first Communion the following morning.

Peters, who earned her bachelor's in Catholic theology from Christendom College in Front Royal, believes you should never stop learning about the faith. "I went to Christendom thinking, 'I go to Mass on Sundays, I know my prayers, I read the lives of the saints. This is going to be easy,'" she said. "Boy, was I shocked. With entire classes on the Holy Trinity or social doctrine, I realized pretty quickly the vast depths of the church's teachings."

Over the years, Peters continued to read about the faith, attend talks and listen to CDs, but she realized she needed to get back in the classroom. Since she was raising five children, she thought the two-year Master Catechist Program was a micro version of getting her master's degree.

She said there were many new perspectives she took away from the class, thanks to Father deLadurantaye's instruction.

"I realized how lucky we were to live in an age where the teachings of the church are so accessible and how the saints have really plowed the path to heaven before us, giving us multiple examples of how to walk the walk and shine His light, and most importantly how to encourage others to join us," she said.

"It has really stoked my faith and made me feel like we, the newly certified master catechists, are standing in the shadows of the disciples of the early church and have been sent out as they were so many years ago to go give to others what has been given to us. I really hope I can do that."

Peters said that during their final class, Father deLadurantaye told the students to be ready to say "yes" to whatever the Lord calls them to be. "The pay may not be very good," he told them, "but the retirement plan is out of this world."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016