Office of Faith Formation issued record number of catechist endorsements in 2016

TYLER – The diocesan Office of Faith Formation issued 123 catechist endorsements in 2016, the highest number of endorsements issued since the process began in 2002, said Linda Khirallah Porter, diocesan faith formation director.

Endorsements are offered at four levels: beginning, basic, intermediate, and advanced. Endorsements as professional religious educators also are offered, as are endorsements in prison ministry and Christian Initiation.

Catechists receive endorsements by attending training sessions at the parish and diocesan level, attending retreats, making pilgrimages, and participating in other spiritual and educational formation events.

“Our catechists are people who work to hand on our Catholic faith,” Porter said. “And you can’t teach what you don’t know. So certainly a good, strong grounding in the teachings of the Church are required for every catechist, whether they’re teaching children or adults.

“But we’re called to do more than just pass on facts,” she said. “We’re called to be witnesses, disciples, to evangelize not just through handing out information, but through the way we live our lives. We are called to inspire others to seek Christ by the daily example of our own lives. And that requires constant, ongoing formation. We have to deepen our own faith, our own relationship with Christ and his Church if we’re going to draw others into that experience with us. So we’re always encouraging our catechists to do more personal formation, whether through spiritual reading, attending retreats, deepening their prayer lives, or even watching spiritual videos. Whatever encourages you to dig deeper into your relationship with Christ will enrich your teaching experience.”

Porter’s office also offers catechists training in teaching methodology.

“How we teach is as important as what we teach,” she said. “Good, effective catechists understand that teaching children is different than teaching adults, that every student has different learning needs and styles, and they can adapt themselves. And then there are catechists who teach special needs students, which requires a very particular kind of training. A good catechist isn’t just someone who stands in front of a class and lectures. Catechists have to engage, they have to encourage, they have to know how to pass on not just the truths of the faith, but that desire to know Christ and to live as his disciple.”

The Diocese of Tyler has about 800 catechists, Porter said, all endorsed at one level or another, even if they are not currently active.

“We’ve discovered that even in our catechists who aren’t teaching, there is still this hunger for formation, for deepening their faith,” she said. “We have people who haven’t taught a class in several years, but who still come to our training sessions, to sessions in the parish, or who just ask us for some kind of spiritual resources. And that’s a great sign. It means they’re doing this for themselves, and not just for their students.

“When we first started the endorsement process, some of our catechists looked at it as just one more requirement they had to fulfill,” Porter said. “But in the years since, they’ve stopped looking at endorsement requirements as a burden and recognized the process as a gift. This is helping them in their spirituality, in their prayer life, in the way they experience Mass.”

Ongoing formation also helps those involved see how they are truly called to participate in ministry.

“So many people start out as catechists in parish faith formation programs,” Porter said. “We all know people, or have been people, who started teaching CCD because their children were in CCD. But not everyone is meant to be a classroom teacher. Through formation, we’ve had people who’ve discovered that their real calling is to liturgical ministry, whether as a cantor, a choir member, or lector. We’ve had people who’ve discovered a desire to take the Eucharist to the sick and those in nursing homes, to lead Scripture studies, to work in youth ministry or prison ministry, or ministry to the poor. That desire to live more closely with Christ leads people in all sorts of directions, not all of them in the classroom. And that brings a richness and diversity of gifts to the parish, to the diocese, and to the whole Church.

“We will always need catechists, but we’ll also always need people in every aspect of ministry. And ongoing formation leads people down a wide variety of paths that enrich us all.”

The Church herself reaps the benefits of that spiritual diversity.

“Every year, just in this diocese, we bring 300-400 people into the Church at Easter,” Porter said. “And those people encounter the Church in a number of different ways, but always through her people. We have lapsed Catholics who come back or who were maybe only baptized and never went any further, people from other denominations, people from no faith background at all. But somehow, they’ve all encountered Christ through an individual or a family, and a spark was lit. They recognize a hunger in themselves, and they see the Church as the way to feed that hunger. But they almost always see it in the face or life or actions of another person, of someone who is living as a disciple of Christ. That’s evangelization, and that’s what we’re all called to do.”

Formation opportunities are offered at both the parish and diocesan level, and range from Scripture studies and formation classes to rosary and other prayer groups to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

“Whoever you are, whatever you want, we’ve got it,” Porter said. “Check your parish bulletin, check the diocesan website, call or email our office. That’s what we’re here for.”

Upcoming diocesan faith formation events include a day for catechists for special needs students on Jan. 28 (information here) and You Have Put on Christ, Feb. 11, an interactive day with Dr. Jerry Gallipeau open to anyone who wishes to deepen their faith. Information on that day is here.

The diocesan faith formation office also offers a resource library with books, videos, and instructional materials.

“True faith formation is a lifelong process, and one that touches every aspect of life,” Porter said. “We will need continuing education until Christ comes again.”

For information about endorsement, classes, or resources, contact the faith formation office at 903-534-1077, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Catechist endorsements issued in 2016 by the Office of Faith Formation include:

  1. Aguilar, Jr. Martin           Beginning                      St. Patrick, Lufkin
  2. Alvares, Alejandrina         Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  3. Alvarez, Gregoria Basic                             St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  4. Alvarez, Gregoria Beginning                      St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  5. Alvaro, Alma                  Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  6. Araujo, Maria Isabel         Beginning                      Cathedral, Tyler
  7. Avila, Maria                   Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  8. Avila, Maria                   Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  9. Bate, Deacon Larry          Advanced Renewal           St. William of Vercelli, Carthage
  10. Bate, Laura                     Advanced Renewal           St. William of Vercelli, Carthage
  11. Blanton, David               Basic                             Sacred Heart, Texarkana
  12. Blanton, Elizabeth Ann Basic                                Sacred Heart, Texarkana
  13. Cano-Diaz, Sr. Rosalie Renewal of PRE                  Christ the King, Kilgore
  14. Cantu, Juanita                 Advanced                       Marshall
  15. Cantu, Juanita                 Intermediate                    Marshall
  16. Carden, Steve                 Advanced                       St. Mary’s, Longview
  17. Carden, Steve                 Christian Initiation          St. Mary’s, Longview
  18. Cardoso, Rosa                Beginning                      St. Celestine, Grand Saline
  19. Casteneda, Alicia             Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  20. Casteneda, Alicia             Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  21. Cedillo, Maria Isabel        Basic                             Christ the King, Kilgore
  22. Clifton, Jennifer               Beginning                      St. Bernard, Fairfield
  23. Cline, Arlene                  Advanced                       Marshall
  24. Cordero, Guadalupe         Christian Initiation          St. Patrick, Lufkin
  25. Cortinas, Frances Advanced Renewal                       Sacred Heart, Palestine
  26. Dauphin, Ted                 Advanced Renewal           Sacred Heart, Palestine
  27. Diaz, Sr. Catherine          PRE Renewal                 Christ the King, Kilgore
  28. Dieter, Eric                     Advanced Renewal           Cathedral, Tyler
  29. Dixon, Loiette                Advanced Renewal           Sacred Heart, Palestine
  30. Dotson, Darlene              Beginning                      Marshall
  31. Everding, Andy               Beginning                      Cathedral, Tyler
  32. Everding, Dianne             Beginning                      Cathedral, Tyler
  33. Flowers, Berta Angoco     Beginning                      Sacred Heart, Texarkana
  34. Foyil, Billy                    Prison                           Tennessee Colony
  35. Franklin, Monica             Beginning                      St. Bernard, Fairfield
  36. Frias, Carmen                 Beginning                      St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  37. Gandarilla, Maria Rosio    Beginning                      Cathedral, Tyler
  38. Giese, Kathy                   Advanced Renewal           Sacred Heart, Nacogdoches
  39. Gilbert, Kathy                 Basic                             Sacred Heart, Nacogdoches
  40. Gilbert, Kathy                 Beginning                      Sacred Heart, Nacogdoches
  41. Gilbert, Kathy                 Intermediate                    Sacred Heart, Nacogdoches
  42. Gokey, Ann                    Intermediate                    St. Bernard, Fairfield
  43. Gonzalez, Gloria J.          Beginning                      St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  44. Grabowski, Gerard           Beginning                      St. Mary’s, Longview
  45. Gundersen, Mary Renee    Basic                             Immaculate Conception, Moral
  46. Gundersen, Mary Renee    Beginning                      Immaculate Conception, Moral
  47. Gundersen, Mary Renee    Intermediate                    Immaculate Conception, Moral
  48. Halbert, Beatriz               Basic                             St. Michael, Mt. Pleasant
  49. Hammett, Peggy             PRE Renewal                 Cathedral, Tyler
  50. Harman, Jackie                Basic                             St. Joseph, Marshall
  51. Hughes, Lori                  Advanced Renewal           St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Waskom
  52. Ibarra, Maria Isabel          Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  53. Johnson, Morris Landin    Prison                           Tennessee Colony
  54. Lara, Sandra                   Renewal PRE                 St. Jude, Henderson
  55. Lashford, David               Christian Initiation          Sacred Heart, Texarkana
  56. Lasseigne, Ryan              Basic                             St. Mary, Longview
  57. Lasseigne,Shallon            Basic                             St. Mary, Longview
  58. Lay, Cathy                     Beginning                      St. Joseph, Marshall
  59. Lopez, Monica                Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  60. Lusk, Erica                     Beginning                      St. Mary’s, Longview
  61. Marquez, Stephen            Prison                           Tennessee Colony
  62. Martinez, Alfredo Basic                             St. Joseph, Marshall
  63. McWilliams, Gary           Beginning                      St. Mary’s, Longview
  64. McWilliams, Gary           Christian Initiation          St. Mary’s, Longview
  65. Miers, Sandy                  Intermediate                    St. Matthew, Longview
  66. Milawski, Christie           Advanced                       St. Mary Magdalene, Flint
  67. Munoz, Maria                 Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  68. Munoz, Maria                 Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  69. Murphy, Betty                Advanced Renewal           St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  70. Najvar, Bonnie                Intermediate                    St. Peter the Apostle, Mineola
  71. Odom, Dana                   Advanced Renewal           Sacred Heart, Rusk
  72. Patton, Karen                  Basic                             St. Patrick, Lufkin
  73. Patton, Karen                  Christian Initiation          St. Patrick, Lufkin
  74. Perea, Balbina                 Beginning                      St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  75. Pereida, Hortencia            Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  76. Phillips, Jodi                  Christian Initiation          St. John Paul the Great, Catholic Campus Ministry UT Tyler\
  77. Pickett, Shawn                Advanced Renewal           Cathedral, Tyler
  78. Pineda, Josefa                 Basic                             St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  79. Quillin, Angela               Christian Initiation          St. Patrick, Lufkin
  80. Ragland, Dcn John          Advanced Renewal           Our Lady of Lourdes, Chireno
  81. Ragland, M3elba             Advanced Renewal           Our Lady of Lourdes, Chireno
  82. Reina, Maria                   Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  83. Reina, Martin                 Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  84. Reina, Martin                 Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  85. Richardson, Maria           Intermediate                    Sacred Heart, Palestine
  86. Richardson. Maria           Basic                             Sacred Heart, Palestine
  87. Robles, Veronica             Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  88. Rodriguez, Cirila             Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  89. Rodriguez, Cirila             Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  90. Romo, Martha                Basic                             St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  91. Russell, Margo               Advanced                       Sacred Heart, Nacogdoches
  92. Scholl, Debbie                Advanced Renewal           St. William of Vercelli, Carthage
  93. Sepulveda, Janie              Advanced Renewal           Sacred Heart, Palestine
  94. Silva, Yadira                  Beginning                      St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  95. Smith, Charlotte             Christian Initiation          St. Joseph, Marshall
  96. Smith, Kimberly             Beginning                      Marshall
  97. Smith, Paul                    Advanced                       Marshall
  98. Snyder, David                 Basic                             Dallas Diocese
  99. Snyder, David                 Beginning                      Dallas Diocese
  100. Stabbs, Yvette               Advanced Renewal           Our Lady of Sorrows, Jacksonville
  101. Stafford, Kathy               PRE                              St. Mary Magdalene, Flint
  102. Steward, Carleen                        Intermediate                    St. Matthew, Longview
  103. Tiscareno, Gregoria         Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  104. Tiscareno, Gregoria         Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  105. Troell, Henry                 Advanced                       St. Theresa, Union Grove
  106. Troell, Henry                 Basic                             St. Theresa, Union Grove
  107. Troell, Henry                 Beginning                      St. Theresa, Union Grove
  108. Troell, Henry                 Intermediate                    St. Theresa, Union Grove
  109. Troell, Janet                  Advanced                       St. Theresa, Union Grove
  110. Troell, Janet                  Basic                             St. Theresa, Union Grove
  111. Troell, Janet                  Beginning                      St. Theresa, Union Grove
  112. Troell, Janet                  Intermediate                    St. Theresa, Union Grove
  113. Valle, Diana                  Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  114. Valle, Elmer                   Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  115. Valle, Gabriela               Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  116. Valle, Maria                  Basic                             OLG, Tyler
  117. Valle, Maria                  Beginning                      OLG, Tyler
  118. Velazco, Froylan                        Prison                           Tennessee Colony
  119. Viramontes, Teresa         Basic                             St. Peter Claver, Tyler
  120. Wells, Dcn Trevor          PRE Renewal                 St. Mary’s, Longview
  121. Wells, Deacon Trevor    PRE Renewal                 St. Mary’s, Longview
  122. Wilson, Beverly             Advanced Renewal           St. Mary, Longview
  123. Zavala, David                Beginning                      OLG, Tyler