Aquinas Launches New Online Platform
Online learning for catechists just got easier. On Thursday, Aquinas College launched a new portal for its Online Catechist Formation Program (CFP). The online formation program is now an integrated part of the college’s website and affords users easy navigation and wider access to web resources. Catechists taking the program enjoy content-rich courses that have characterized the online program since its launch in 2010.
Leaders in Catechist Formation
The Aquinas College Catechist Formation Program has a strong history as a leader in catechist formation. Aquinas started the program in 2008 as a response to the request of the late Bishop Choby of Nashville to provide a training program for the Diocese of Nashville.
The program soon expanded for collaborations with more dioceses. During its history the CFP has helped to form teachers of the faith in the neighboring dioceses of Lexington, Knoxville, and Cleveland.
Today, the Aquinas College Catechist Formation Program serves the population of catechists in Knoxville with Saturday sessions on location in that mission diocese. The Diocese of Cleveland continues to utilize CFP resources as a component of its catechist formation. Meanwhile, CFP director Jason Gale is augmenting the college’s efforts to reach a growing population of online learners.
Responding to a changing landscape
In a landscape of constantly changing technology and rising online proficiency, CFP instructors reach Catholics with the saving Truth through online presence.
“Flexibility is key,” said Gale.
“Catholics who want to grow in their faith can take the courses at their own pace and time of day, while receiving the same solid teaching as participants at the in-person sessions. Through its history, the program has reached Catholics answering the call to become catechists, as well as those who simply want to grow in their faith. The program is for everyone,” Gale said.
Gale has served as Director of the Aquinas College Catechist Formation Program since 2015. “Aquinas College entered the online training field early. Aquinas was a pioneer in online learning for catechists. Since the launch of our online program in 2010, there has been a dramatic increase in catechist formation options online, evidence of the growth of new evangelization efforts in the United States,” Gale said. “This growth is a very hopeful sign for the Church.”
Unique service sets Aquinas program apart
What makes Aquinas’s program unique?
“For centuries, the Dominican charism of preaching has been a decisive leaven in the world,” said Gale, who holds a licentiate from the Maryvale Institute.
“Dominican teaching offers a spirituality for catechists that is centered in Sacred Scripture, Sacramental life, sound doctrine, and the rich Catholic heritage of sacred art and culture. Through Aquinas College, catechists receive sound teaching in this same Dominican tradition.”
Significance of the Dominican charism for today’s catechist
St. Dominic heard his own call by contemplating the Truth. He answered this call by responding to the needs of his day to go forth and bring the saving Truth of the Gospel to a world that was hungry for it; a world plagued by contradictions, scandal, heresy, and brokenness.
The Dominican Order continues to serve this saving mission.
Aquinas College, run and staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, continues this effort in a long line of preacher-teachers alongside dedicated and dynamic lay faculty and staff.
Catechesis grounded in contemplative study of sacred Truth forms the catechist and student alike. The catechist walks with the disciple in faith toward a personal encounter with Christ. “If we accept the truth that ‘at the heart of catechesis we find in essence the Person of Jesus Christ’ (Catechesi Tradendae, 5), then every catechetical formation program must take as its primary aim the fostering of an authentic encounter with Christ in the life of each catechist,” Sister Mary Michael said.
Sister Mary Michael Fox, O.P., who served as co-creator and director of the program in its early stages, teaches the CFP live sessions with Gale in the Diocese of Knoxville and is one of the presenters of the online program.
Dominican spirituality, deeply rooted in Scripture and sacred doctrine, is evident in the program’s approach: each of the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is incorporated into every lesson. “Within each course every lesson draws from or points to the others so that the catechist can see the intended symphonic nature of the Catechism’s arrangement of doctrine,” Sister Mary Michael added.
This way of encountering the whole deposit of Faith enriches the faith life of the participant and serves as a model for how to evangelize and catechize others.
The Catechist Formation Program has emerged as one of the gems of the college’s outreach efforts in forming teachers for the new evangelization.
How to get started
CFP online participants engage video content, take a short quiz, and have the option for Q&A and interaction with other catechists through an online forum. Each course takes approximately 10-12 hours to complete. A certificate is issued upon completion of the six program courses. Each course takes its structure from the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as related methods toward imparting a faithful catechesis.
Individuals desiring to learn about their faith can start catechist formation here.
The CFP is an initiative of the Center for Evangelization and Catechesis at Aquinas College. The Center for Evangelization and Catechesis supports the work of catechists and leaders by providing workshops, retreats, and directed study of the Catholic Faith. Rooted in the Dominican charism of contemplative study and preaching, the Center trains parents, teachers, and parish volunteers in an approach to catechesis that engages both the mind and heart.