Workshop Calls Catechetical Leaders Together

BRIDGEPORT- The Leadership Institute is currently holding an Effective Catechetical Leadership Series workshop that spans over three days, beginning on Tuesday,  August 21 through Thursday, August 23rd. The workshop is being held at Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center on 238 Jewett Avenue in Bridgeport. This workshop is open to all Directors/Coordinators of Religious Education, youth ministers, and their support staff.

On the first day, ministry leaders from around the diocese were able to hear updates on different initiatives happening in the Faith Formation office. “We want to give you as much information as is valuable to you, and let you know what is happening in the diocese that can help you,” said Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Childhood Faith Formation for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Patrick Donovan, Director of the Leadership Institute and the Office of Faith Formation addressed the gathered, “I want to thank you for what you do…you make a huge difference in the lives of young people.”

One of the highlights of the workshop was a keynote address from well-known speaker John Gonzalez. John Gonzalez, DMin, serves as the Director of Social Ministry for a parish on Long Island. John is also an adjunct professor at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, and a member of the Loyola Press Speakers Corps. John received his Doctorate of Ministry in Latino Studies from Fordham University and has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago. John previously served as adjunct professor at Molloy College, special projects developer for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and director of the justice, peace and the integrity of creation office for the Passionist community.

Gonzalez explained that formation is a lifelong process, “a process to have an encounter with God, with one another, and with ourselves.”

Gonzalez discussed how in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), the Holy Father calls us to be actively engaged in evangelization. The speaker encouraged ministry leaders to be agents of transformation, facilitating an encounter to those they minister to.

“The core message becomes this personal experience,” Gonzalez spoke about the value of sharing one’s story about their own encounter with God, “It’s not life-giving if it is seen as just a job.”

Gonzalez encouraged this personal involvement from ministry leaders as he spoke of his own experience in catechesis, “the stories that they heard encouraged them to engage in ministry.”

He also spoke of the importance of retreat and having a Sacred space, asking, “Where is your Galilee?” and encouraging ministry leaders to return where they started, to return to that passion they felt when they first began, especially when things get challenging.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

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Recalling Pope Francis’ call for the Faithful to be missionary disciples, Gonzalez encouraged the attendees to focus on proclamation in a missionary style, providing ways to answer the call and live that out in their ministry.

Reading a quote from Matthew Kelly’s latest book coming out in December, “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity,” Patrick Donovan addressed the gathered, leaving them with a bit of wisdom: “Do not let the sun go down today without giving the world a holy moment.”

Other featured talks throughout the workshop series included the following, from speaker Tom Quinlan: Called by Name to be a Catechetical Leader; Cultivating your Catechesis to Develop Disciples; and Excellence in Ministering to God’s People. Tom Quinlan is the Diocesan Catechetical Director at the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois.

Attendees also had the chance to participate in breakout sessions and activities with other ministry leaders.

This workshop is a chance for all DRE’s, CRE’s, and those who work with young people to come together before they begin their year of ministry.

This event is being hosted by the Leadership Institute and the Office of Faith Formation.