We are about a month into a new religious education season, and things are settling down a bit. Class rosters are set, and every class has a catechist (hopefully!). So many details go into a successful catechetical program, most behind the scenes.

Being a Director of Religious Education or Parish Catechetical Leader can be a thankless job, but it can also be very rewarding. Knowing we are helping our young people to learn and grow in the faith, and especially to prepare them to receive the sacraments, is edifying, and motivates us in our mission.

In recent years, these jobs have become full-time salaried positions demanding certain educational and professional credentials.  There remain, however, many volunteer and part-time coordinators who have simply responded to a request from their pastor to organize the catechetical program.

While happy to serve a need of the parish, they lack the formal theological education that would benefit them in their work. Curriculum development and catechist training may overwhelm them, and the experience can soon turn sour. At the same time, the thought of pursuing a college or graduate degree in theology intimidates them.

The Saint Joseph’s College online theology program has created the Certificate in Catholic Catechesis for just this scenario.

The Certificate in Catholic Catechesis is ideal for the Parish Catechetical Leader, Director of Religious Education, and even the advanced catechist. The curriculum is based completely on Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which are the only required texts for the program.

Links to both resources at the USCCB website are provided, so there are no textbook costs. Each course carries one undergraduate credit, which may then be applied towards a Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies should the student be inspired to go on for further study.

The online, asynchronous format makes the program accessible from anywhere and at any time, helping those serving parishes in more remote areas. Each course has a live instructor to help students with questions, so they are not alone on this journey.

The Certificate in Catholic Catechesis is a convenient, non-intimidating way to develop an understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith. Catechetical leaders gain a confidence in their ability to articulate the faith, and help their catechists do the same.

Of course, the more one learns, the more one realizes what one does not know – and the desire to complete a Bachelor’s degree may develop into a desire for a Master of Arts degree.

Should this happen, Saint Joseph’s College offers a fast-track to the MA, allowing students to take up to four graduate courses while pursuing the Bachelor’s degree.