Diocesan News

‘Western’ catechist retreat to be held Jan. 7 in McCook

Educators meeting for regional workshops several times throughout the year

McCOOK (SNR) – In addition to the Dec. 2-4 retreat for catechists at Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House in Waverly, a retreat for catechists in the western portion of the Diocese of Lincoln is planned Jan. 7 in McCook.

Katie Dubas, director of youth ministry for the Grant Deanery – serving the farthest west parishes of the diocese – said she told Father Andrew Heaslip, director of religious education, that many of her catechists are busy parents and farmers who would be unable to travel to Waverly for the retreat. The concern is a common one in the Diocese of Lincoln, which spans 40 counties in more than 23,000 square miles.

Father Heaslip readily agreed to arrange a one-day retreat in the west, with Dubas’ help.

The retreat will be led by Father Adam Sughroue, who is originally from the area. Catechists may register for the one-day retreat, to be held at St. Patrick Church from 9:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at www.regonline.com/catechistretreatmccook. The cost is $25.

Dubas was well versed in preparing a day like this. She previously worked in the Diocese of Fargo, N.D., where they had regional catechist workshops as a way to network within the region and continue to provide adult formation plus showcase new supplemental resources on the market, like Formed.org currently used in the Diocese of Lincoln. She asked Father Heaslip’s permission to hold four such in-services for catechists this year, three taking the place of regular CCD classes.

“He agreed that the time spent on formation of the catechists was worth the sacrifice of three class sessions and so we began planning the workshops,” Dubas said. “We had around 40 people attend each of the first two, which is about a 90% attendance rate of our catechists.” 

Dubas said many teachers have expressed their gratitude for the sessions. 

“Out west here,” she said, “we have neither Catholic schools nor religious communities so it is the laity alone that must provide parish-based catechesis for K-12, under the guidance of their pastors. Some of the catechists are public school teachers so they have previous training in lesson planning and classroom management but the majority of our K-12 catechists are not professional teachers by trade so these workshops are very welcomed. 

Father Heaslip was the keynote presenter for K-8 teachers at the first two workshops and Dubas was the facilitator for 9-12 catechists.  At the first event Father Matthew Rolling gave a brief talk on prayer and emphasized the need for catechists to be steeped in prayer. Father Heaslip then gave an overview of the diocesan curriculum, explaining the modifications for parish-based CCD vs parochial schools, and he walked participants through all the resources and videos on the diocesan website that are a valuable resource to every teacher. 

At the second in-service, Father Heaslip covered the lesson planning and modeled a hands-on example. “The teachers loved it!” Dubas said.

She spoke to the high school CYO and Godteen leaders about how to use the new YDisciple curriculum and showed them how to navigate on the Formed.org website to access all the materials.

She said they also discussed how things were going and “how we could more intentionally engage our parents to do follow-up discussions with their teens at home and take a more active role ... since they are the primary educators in the faith.”

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