Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Formation Course for Catechist, a joyful experience.
Formation Course Level II, part 1 in Ottawa.
From July 2nd to 8th, 2011 at Annunciation of the Lord Parish in Ottawa, a group of local catechists came together to continue our personal growth in this Journey. We began our Formation Course level II part 1, led by Rose Yagiela. Rose very kindly agreed to come and share her talents and expertise with us, while accommodating our scheduling requirements. She is a formation leader recognized by the National Association of the USA, and now also from our Canadian Association here in Canada.
As usual in God’s plan, things unfolded perfectly. Initially, the participants were slightly hesitant because of many constraints (the fee, babysitting, distance, holidays with their families or other reasons). But God was there to speak to us in the way He only knows; gentle and loving.
During that week, not only the training itself but the celebration of the Holy Mass and the Word of God were talking to us the catechists, and this is what I would like to share with you today.
After overcoming what seemed like insurmountable obstacles, both on the part of those preparing to host the course, as well as those preparing to attend the course, the welcome we received was this:
“Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest”.
This welcome helped set the tone for our week together. It was a week of fraternity among the participants, with a profound respect, where the Good Shepherd had the principal position and the sheep were ready to listen to His voice.
We started our course learning the differences between the 3 to 6-year-olds and the 6 to 9-year-olds. For the first two days, our course ran smoothly with lectures and presentations. When we received the presentation of “The Fettuccia” under the category of the History of the Kingdom of God, everyone was amazed. Rose gave an excellent presentation; the adults were enchanted in awe, but our Lord was there to remain us that this is not our merit but the Holy Spirit who works through the Formation Leader or catechist, and he spoke with a smooth voice to us “You (Father) have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed it to the little ones.”
We continued our course. The days were long; we had presentations, lectures, album pages to be completed, materials to be made, and so forth. And here was our Good Shepherd speaking again to us:
“The harvest is abundant but the labourers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out labourers for his harvest”
In the middle of our training we received great news; Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast would come to visit us! He came and celebrated Holy Mass; he began his homily saying: “Everyone thinks that they have the best program ever, however this program certainly has a very good approach to the children.” On this day the Good Shepherd spoke to us in a special way, the gospel for the day was the Mission of the Apostles; we were 12 catechists in the training, we were experiencing this golden thread that Sofia talks about, in our own journey.
We continued our work with the Synthesis of the Infancy Narratives, the Synthesis of the Kingdom Parables and we also had the presentations of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. Our Good Shepherd was there watching closely over the syllabus that Rose had prepared for that week because He had something else to say to us, the gospel for that day was: As you go, make this proclamation: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand”...
When I reflect and pause to consider exactly how much I have spent on this Journey over the years, I realize that it’s impossible to quantify. If I try to account for the total cost for the time spent in Formation Courses, or making materials, or writing album pages, or the money required to pay the fees for training or to pay the expenses of traveling and lodging or even the time my husband has been available in order to watch our children while I’ve attended training, it is very difficult. In my mind it is just “too much.” But, if I see it in a different perspective; that everything comes from God because He loves me that He has been the one who has organized the time so that all of these things could happen in my life. If I see Him as the giver of everything, the one who gives my husband the job to pay for the training, the time off to watch our children, the enthusiasm to help me in making certain materials that I cannot (wood working), then I can understand and embrace what He has told us in the gospel: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
One of the presentations that brought tears to the eyes of the catechists was the Wolf and the hired hand. The meditations that came after the presentation, the way people used the materials and the way each one saw or understood the parable can’t be explained in just three lines because I would be losing the real meaning of this experience. But I can say this was a real spiritual retreat for all of us, a time to grow, a time to be close to the Good Shepherd, it was our own personal experience with Him as an adult, as a catechist, the humble servant who is taking care of His sheep.
As the time was nearing the end of our first part, our Good Shepherd didn’t want to let us go without warning us, and He said: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves”
We will meet again next summer July 3rd to 9th, 2012 to complete our Formation Course. If you have already completed your level II, but would like to refresh your level 2 part II specially the reconciliation and first communion retreat with children, feel free to contact me.
In the love of the Good Shepherd