[quote=puzzleannie]the basic requirement for catechists is the same as for a godparent or confirmation sponsor - practicing Catholic adult, fully initiated, not under canonical penalty or otherwise disqualified, asked and willing to serve, living in conformity with Church teaching including laws on marriage. Each volunteer applicant is interviewed by me, fills out an application with references (parish) and release for criminal background check (diocese). We do check references.
No new volunteer is put in a classroom unless they have prior experience that checks out with their former parish. Our catechists teach in teams, so barring unforseen circumstances, each classroom has two adults plus a teen aide (usually confirmation candidate). After a year as an aide, a volunteer is encouraged to become a catechist. Volunteers not married in the Church, still working on their own confirmation etc. can be aides, but not full charge catechists. They are encouraged and assisted in taking care of such matters. Our catechists are highly qualified, orthodox and excellent teachers. Those that are not don’t last long.
Catechists must commit to a new catechist orientation (3 hours), a lesson planning-resource workshop (3 hours), Protecting God’s Children/Ethical Conduct training (diocese, 3 hours), planning meetings at the end of each year, and a monthly catechist formation session (2 hours). Topics this year will be Diocesan Convocation, Teaching Scripture to Children, 7 Secrets of a Successful Catechist, and What Every Catechist should Know (including update on new NDC).
Dioceses offers Echoes of Faith for basic catechist certification (32 hours) but our pastor does not think highly of it, although catechists are given info on these courses in neighboring parishes, and on other courses offered in the dioceses for Catholic School religion teachers, Lay Ministry Institute and others, which all count toward certification. Once my courses are approved, which is a formality, they also will count toward diocesan certification.
I feed my catechists at every meeting (secret of my success, such as it is), host a party each year in my home or elsewhere off site, and bring in presenters for a catechist retreat in January.
I am not afraid to fire volunteers, and have done so. I do annual evaluations of each volunteer, keep good records, get them what they need to do their ministry, and observe them in the classroom. I don’t play favorites, and try to treat everyone professionally. I am proud to say the parish shows appreciation for their work and dedication.
I think every parish needs to do what you do. Too many parishes, I believe, simply just let almost anyone become catechists which out much of a check at all.
My brother, who lives in Corpus Christi, TX, has told me that his diocese is about in implement strict rules on what has to be done before a person can become a catechist.