The Catechist Program

By the Rt. Rev. John T. Tarrant

“O Lord, without whom our labour is lost: We beseech you to prosper all works in your Church undertaken according to your holy will. Grant to your workers a pure intention, a patient faith, sufficient success on earth, and the blessedness of serving you in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”  (BOS 2003)

For many years we have talked about the need for better and more consistently trained ministerial leaders in our congregations similar to the “Lay Readers” of the past generation. After several years of experimentation and through the efforts of many we have developed a one-year training program that I believe will meet those needs. The Lay Order of Catechist training program will offer a thorough, yet accessible preparation for those being called through the church to this particular leadership ministry.

This Summer we will launch the beginning of our inaugural year of formation for our first group of Catechists. Our Diocese has a wealth of dedicated lay and ordained leaders and ministers, and this is especially true about the leaders of our mission congregations. For some time we have sought a way to provide more official and uniform ministerial support for our mission clergy and small churches while also formally recognizing the leadership of our most dedicated lay ministers. We are introducing a Lay Order of Catechists. This will be a group of people who will receive training in:

  • leading worship and preaching,
  • performing wakes and funerals,
  • distributing the consecrated Eucharist when a priest is unavailable (under the direction of the bishop and supervising priest),                                               
  • providing Christian education,
  • and giving pastoral care.

This training consists in a yearlong program offered through Niobrara School for Ministry. It will build on the years of experience and education of some of our most dedicated lay leaders. Those invited to take part in this program and engage in this ministry must already be respected leaders within their congregation and have the support of their supervising priest.

We have already had an initial information session for potential members of our first group to go through this training. The interest and engagement of this group fills me with tremendous hope for how this program can open up new ministry possibilities in the Diocese. We will commission the first class of the Lay Order of Catechists at the Niobrara Convocation in 2019. Each will receive a blue liturgical tippet upon commissioning.

If you couldn’t attend this information session, you may still take part in this first year of training. Everyone who will go through this course of study must attend Summer Seminary, July 23-28, at Thunderhead Episcopal Center. You will also need to go to eight additional training weekends throughout the year. If this ministry interests you, please reach out to Dr. Chris Corbin or me for more information.  If you are unable to fully participate in the program this year, it will be offered again during the 2019/20 educational cycle.

“May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us, that in this, and in all things, we may do Christ’s will in the service of the kingdom of God. Amen.”  (BCP adapted)