Our Diocese of Cheyenne completed today a three day institute on a priority of our Pastoral Plan, Catechesis. We were blessed with one of the largest turnouts of pastoral leaders for the September Institute in recent years, and the feedback has been positive, inspiring, and encouraging!

The pastoral leaders of the Diocese gather every year for a three day Institute.  Last year, we focused on Sacrament, and this year on Catechesis; the two priorities of our Pastoral Plan for the first 18 month period which will end this June.  These Institutes play a vital role in the life of the Diocese.  Someone this morning said: “Institutes are like a family reunion for us.”  That is very true. 

Pastoral Leaders gather in Casper for this year's Institute on Catechesis

 Our Institutes are not only a great opportunity for our parish and diocesan staffs to gather for on-going formation, but our time together is vital for networking, and building unity.  In many ways, we are ‘modeling’ during these days for others our unity, care and concern for each other, our parishes, and our diocese.  The institutes are one of many ways that the Living and Giving in Christ; Unity Through Diocesan Ministries serves to build up parish staffs, who serve the many Catholics throughout the state of Wyoming.

 Our presenters this year came to us from the Center for Ministry Development; Tom East and Joan Weber.  Both Tom and Joan came well prepared, full of faith, ideas, and lots of enthusiasm.  Their own inspiring and compelling presentations not only instructed us to be the same in our efforts to evangelize and catechise, but modelled the manner in which we are to do so. 

A special thanks goes as well to the Director of Pastoral Ministries, Deacon Vernon Dobelmann.  Deacon Vernon worked over the past nine months with Tom and Joan to put the pieces in place for a great Institute this week.  Well done, Deacon Vernon!

It would be too much of a stretch to even begin to summarize the vast amount of information shared with us this week, but we learned a lot about faith formation and the challenge to make faith formation a life-long process, and a process that involves many more settings than just the classroom.  Clearly, the classroom is not enough, as important as it is. 

The one who learns faith, actually comes to faith through many different experiences, relationships and venues.  The goal is to bring people to Christ.  Our efforts are to help people not only to know (knowledge) about Christ, but to also have encounters by which they know (personally) Christ.  These many different venues or settings include the person of Christ Himself, through family, people of influence in our lives, the parish community, as well as the broader Church and society as a whole.

I believe our pastoral staffs left the Institute rejuvenated, not only from the presentations, and time together with one another, but also from the very uplifting Eucharistic celebrations and other prayer times.  They also left knowing that they have other resources and training available as well. 

As we heard re-inforced by our own Holy Father in an address yesterday to new bishops, “we are all evangelizers.”  All of us are to be a ‘faith-influence’ to and for others by the way we live our faith-life.  May we all grow in our love for the Lord, and in our joy of being His disciples!

Pastoral Leaders at this Year’s September Institute on Catechesis in Casper