The first class of the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute held in the St. Cloud Diocese graduated May 16. The 130 students received certificates from Bishop Donald Kettler during a graduation ceremony at St. Andrew in Elk River, where they have been attending classes for the past two years.
“Our parish and the surrounding parishes have been blessed by the Catechetical Institute’s teaching,” said Father Mark Innocenti, pastor of St. Andrew Parish. “I see the fruit of these blessings in my staff who have taken the course, in their being able to reflect more deeply on the mission of Christ for our parish with an informed and greater clarity in articulating our Catholic faith,” he said.
One of the students, Melissa Anderson, parish business administrator at St. Andrew, said she was learning about her faith daily already, but she embraced the opportunity to participate in the institute.
“The opportunity to attend the Catechetical Institute to journey through the Catechism of the Catholic Church has been a blessing,” she said.
Over the past two years, the students completed four modules of 11 classes each, plus two formative sessions during each module. Modules include instruction on the creed, sacraments, moral life and prayer. The catechism is the main textbook for the program.
“We saw the impact the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute was having on Catholics in the Twin Cities and the fruit that was being produced in their everyday lives, their communities and parishes, and we began to look for opportunities to duplicate what was happening in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in other areas,” said Jeff Cavins, the institute’s director emeritus.
Catholics who understand their faith and live it out benefit the Church in many ways. “With each graduating class, the bishop and pastors have at their disposal a dynamic cohort of people who are not only equipped but eager to put their faith into practice,” Cavins said.
People who haven’t been in school for a while sometimes fear they won’t be able to handle the material, Wahlquist said, but that has not been the case.
“As they journey through the catechism with us, people are elated that they can grasp material they thought was out of their reach,” Wahlquist said.
The Catechetical Institute will offer an eight-week course this fall at St. Andrew. “Catechetical Institute: School of Discipleship” will be taught by Cavins and feature guest speaker Father Mike Schmitz, according to Wahlquist. Father Schmitz is a priest of the Diocese of Duluth and director of the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“Our parish and those who have attended have been blessed, and I look forward to the fall when we will offer another Catechetical Institute course,” Father Innocenti said.
“My quest for learning isn’t finished with the completion of this course,” Anderson said. “There are Catholic podcasts, Catholic radio stations, and a long list of books and speaker opportunities that will continue to enhance my faith.”
Anderson says she believes every Catholic should take advantage of a program like this. “We are never too old to become better ‘witnesses of a lived faith’ and to grow in our relationship in Christ’s gift of salvation.”