It has been a busy year in the Office of Religious Education and Catechesis. I’m pleased to give a picture of religious education in the Diocese and also share three exciting updates: our first-ever Totus Tuus training in Vermont, the renewed adult catechesis in our Lay Formation program and our new partnership with Franciscan University’s Catechetical Institute.

Most of my effort goes into supporting our parish catechetical leaders in our parishes. Religious education looks different depending on where you go. For example, most parishes have a weekly, religious education model. However, some parishes are considering, or already practicing, a family formation model, and a number of parishes are looking to adopt Catechesis of the Good Shepherd into their programs. While there are many challenges to religious education and catechesis in Vermont, we are working to set new goals and build upon the good work our parishes are already doing.

It has been an exciting year for Totus Tuus. For the first time, we conducted Totus Tuus training here in Vermont, at the beautiful St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte. This is an important and intense preparation period for our missionaries before they go to our parishes for the summer. We hosted two Vermont teams and a team from the Diocese of Portland. Our missionaries learned theology, how to teach children, lots of crazy camp songs and how to balance it all with a challenging daily prayer life. This training bore much fruit as evidenced by each of our teams’ successful six weeks of teaching and witnessing to first-through-12th grade students in 12 parishes throughout the Diocese. We were excited this year to grow from 10 parishes to 12 by adding Christ the King in Burlington and Christ the King in Rutland.

We have also revamped our Lay Formation program. Adult members of our community applied and were accepted to learn how to better minister to people in the parish, how to grow in their spiritual lives and how to deepen their intellectual understanding of the Catholic faith. I oversaw the intellectual portion by bringing in experts to teach courses, including Old and New Testament. The courses are a combination of interactive online content plus in-person discussion during monthly meetings.

Another exciting update is our partnership with Franciscan University’s Catechetical Institute. This online platform will be how our parish catechetical leaders will renew their certifications. We are excited about these workshops because we hope they will continue to raise the standard of religious education in Vermont, starting with each parish catechetical leader. While this is an online program, it puts each learner in contact with a Vermont mentor. These mentors are currently being trained, and the whole certification program goes live next year.

Thank you for your support, both through prayer and generous donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which allows us to continue these and many other efforts.

  • Michael Hagan is coordinator of catechesis and religious education for the Diocese of Burlington
  • Originally published in The Inland See, Aug. 18–24, 2018