One of the biggest challenges facing the Church in the United States is how to bring a new evangelization to an increasingly secularized, fragmented culture. Parish mergers, shrinking budgets, and a shortage of priests and catechists to instruct the laity compound the challenge. Against this backdrop, Franciscan University of Steubenville launched the Catechetical Institute in 2017. The Institute’s overriding desire is to reach into parishes, families, and communities to support the strengthening of Catholic culture and the handing on of the treasure of faith, in every possible place and situation. Through conferences, new catechetical resources, and especially online courses, the Catechetical Institute seeks to serve all those who form others in the faith. This includes priests, parish catechists of all types, Catholic school teachers, and parents—the primary educators of their children.
The cornerstone of the Institute’s work is a rapidly-growing online collection of mentor-based workshops that will eventually total more than 800 topic areas within many different tracks such as: Ministry of Parenting, Catechist, Parish Catechetical Leader, Catholic Schools, Youth Ministry, Campus Ministry, Pastoral Accompaniment, First Proclamation, and more. The Catechetical Institute doesn’t seek to replace diocesan services with distant experts. Rather, it works with dioceses to establish local, on-the-ground mentoring that connects participants to others living and working in their own community of faith. This mentor-based platform provides a long-term way to accompany people in ministry and provide solid formation, while constantly increasing the local community’s ability to cultivate stronger ministerial relationships.