Two-week summer catechism course to save two year’s time
By Jean Torkelson
When: 9 a.m.-3:45 p.m. July 16-20 and July 23-27
Where: JPII Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver
Register: visit www.regonline.com/summerclass
This July, Denver-area Catholics interested in taking a deeper walk into the Catechism of the Catholic Church can compress two years of study into an intensive two-week course.
“Pillars: A Journey through the Catechism of the Catholic Church” is a unique curriculum—the first of its kind in the country—which has been offered for the past several years by the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Catechetical School in its original two-year format.
This summer, “Pillars” is being scaled down—but not watered down—to fit the needs of people who have the desire, but not the time, to study the catechism for two years, said Ben Akers, director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Catechetical School.
“This fills the need to accommodate the busy schedules of people who have been asking for intensive courses,” Akers said.
The “Pillars” curriculum was created by Sean Innerst, a theologian and professor in the Archdiocese of Denver. This fall, Innerst’s original, two-year curriculum will be distributed to dioceses nationwide as part of the celebration of Pope Benedict XVI’s “Year of Faith,” which launches worldwide in October. The global celebration also includes the 20th anniversary of the publication of the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first such revision in 400 years.
In July, Innerst will teach the two-week version of “Pillars,” which he fashioned from his original curriculum. He is assistant professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and director of the school’s theology cycle.
The two-week “Pillars” course costs $450 in full, and runs Monday through Friday for two weeks, July 16-20 and July 23-27, from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. It will be held on the campus of the John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St. in Denver (which houses St. John Vianney Theological Seminary). For more information and to register, visit www.regonline.com/summerclass or call 303-715-3195.
How is it possible to compress two years into two weeks? Akers said the key was to eliminate regular group sessions and some interactive elements. The content has been preserved, he said.
“Pillars” is open to anyone interested in learning more about the catechism, although the course was specifically designed to help parish catechists, youth ministers, directors of religious education and RCIA instructors to become more informed teachers of the faith.
Because of its intensive pace, non-Catholics would be better served by taking the two-year course, where they could absorb the full context and background of Catholic teachings, Akers said.
“Pillars” refers to Acts 2:42, which describes the Church’s foundation as she grew to embrace her first 3,000 souls.
“It was a snapshot of what the early Church looked like,” Akers said.
The passage describes the Church as resting on apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayer and breaking of the bread. Today, Akers said, those four scriptural elements are clearly present in what can be described as the four pillars of the catechism—the creed, the moral life in Christ, prayer and the sacraments.
By developing the “Pillars” concept as a way to present the catechism, Innerst devised a unique curriculum that is now a template for nationwide use, Akers said. The shorter, two-week course this July is a great place to start the learning process.
“A lot of people have a hard time with the catechism because it is such a daunting document,” Akers said. “How do you read it? How do you approach it? This class is a crash course for those who, in a short amount of time, want to learn the essentials of the faith, and want to be given the tools to participate in the new evangelization.
“This course allows head and heart to connect.”
For more information about classes offered by the Biblical School or the Catechetical School go to www.sjvdenver.edu.
Jean Torkelson: 303-715-3215; www.twitter.com/DCRegister