The Faith Formation Department of the St. Philip Institute held the annual diocesan catechist conferences at St. Therese Catholic Church in Canton this year.

In his homily at the Mass for the Day for Catechists in 2013, Pope Francis said catechists “are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others.” (Holy Mass on the occasion of the “Day for Catechists” During the Year of Faith, Sept. 29, 2013) The Holy Father’s reminder highlights the vital role catechists fill in the life of the Church, by teaching the faith to children, teens, and adults in their local parish communities.

The conferences began with the Spanish conference on Oct. 7. More than 140 Spanish speaking catechists from across the diocese were in attendance for a day filled with enriching presentations, Mass, and opportunities for participants to connect with catechists from other parishes.  

“It was such a blessing to be together with everyone from across the diocese and remember the common mission we have,” said Dr. Luke Arredondo, the director of faith formation in the diocese.

The Spanish conference featured talks by Hilda Perez, catechist at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, and Constantino Borja, catechist at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tyler. 

On Oct. 28, more than 125 English-speaking catechists gathered for the second conference. The English conference featured talks from Mikki Sciba, the catechetical specialist for the St. Philip Institute, and Peggy Hammett, director of faith formation at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler.

Both conferences explored three key topics. The first topic covered practical tips for being more effective in the classroom as a catechist. Catechists were equipped with tools to expand their classroom management skills. 

The second topic explored the spiritual life of a catechist, equipping catechists to continue to grow personally in their own spiritual lives. 

Finally, Dr. Luke Arredondo gave catechists an update on the catechetical resources provided by the St. Philip Institute. These resources included the announcement of new Spanish videos for The Way of Christ curriculum. 

The Way of Christ is a teaching resource produced by the St. Philip Institute to assist faith formation leaders and catechists in handing on the faith. The Way of Christ introduces students to the basics of what Catholics believe and how Catholics should live. It contains answers to common questions and practices. 

The Way of Christ textbooks are available in English and Spanish. Video resources are also available to accompany each lesson in the textbook. Although the English videos have been available for a while, the project to complete the Spanish videos finished early this fall. The Way of Christ videos in both English and Spanish can be found on the St. Philip Institute YouTube channel.  

“The thing I was most excited about was the chance for our catechists to see the unity of the diocese, both in our joys and challenges,” Arredondo said as he reflected on these events. “Gathering together with people from all across the diocese helps us all to see that we’re part of a large team, and that we’re all on the same mission of forming disciples in East Texas. To me, that’s the greatest hope of the conferences.”