Reflections by Randy Hodge
|Posted on March 9, 2017 at 12:15 AM|
In this modern era, teachers are forced to wear many hats and take on many responsibilities. In fact, when we think of our children’s teachers, we tend categorize them as either a specialist in the grade they teach or as a specialist in a specific subject area.
In a Catholic school; however, one of the most important areas our teachers specialize in is passing on the Catholic faith. Therefore, they must earn their catechetical certification. At its core the mission of a Catholic school is catechesis - nurturing faith within the Christian community through instruction, personal witness, prayer and example.
To live out our mission as catechists, the Diocese of Grand Rapids requires all Catholic school teach
ers to earn their catechetical certification within a year or two of being hired. What exactly goes into earning this certification?
In our diocese, there are three required dimensions of growth in which teachers and principals must show continual competence to maintain certification:
• Spirituality – referring to one’s own personal, spiritual and faith development.
• Theology - The study of Church teachings, Scripture and Church documents.
• Evangelization - leading the spiritual and faith development of others.
These dimensions comprise three different certification levels that a teacher may work toward achieving.
• Diocesan Catechetical Certification – Teachers must earn 50 clock hours in the three dimensions listed above with at least 16 clock hours spent in each area. Diocesan Certification is good for four years. To renew their certification, teachers must spend 25 hours growing in the areas above with at least 8 hours in each of the three areas.
• Advanced Catechetical Certification – Teachers must have a total of 80 clock hours of effective formation in the three dimensions with a minimum of 26 clock hours in each of three. Advanced Certification is good for five years. In order to renew their certification, they must spend 30 hours in formation with at least 10 hours in each of the three areas.
• Master Catechist Certification – Teachers must earn their Advanced Catechetical Certification plus spend at least 18 academic credit hours (minimum of 12 credit hours in theology, with the other 6 credit hours in theology or other disciplines related to catechetical ministry). A Master Catechist Certification is good for 6 years. For renewal, teachers must spend 35 hours learning with at least 11 hours spent in each of the three areas.
Once teachers have achieved their certification, the hard work begins by earning hours towards renewal or working on advancing to the next level. In our professional development plan, we strive to schedule speakers, programs and sessions that count towards our staff’s certification.
Ultimately, having all our staff certified as catechists is crucial to all three parts of our mission statement: We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve! Pope Francis has said the most important legacy a teacher can leave a child is passing on the Catholic faith. And most importantly, along with each student’s parents, the teachers are responsible for the faith formation of each child in their classroom, educating them not only in the core subjects but in the faith. A Catholic school education prepares children for not only tests in the classroom or a career, but the ultimate goal of eternal life in heaven.