Online courses deliver enrichment for catechists

Traditional parish efforts enhanced through web site


BY ELIZABETH FOER
Special to The Catholic Advocate

The Catechetical Office of the Archdiocese of Newark has joined with the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) to offer online certification courses to catechists throughout the archdiocese.

VLCFF (Web site: www.vlc.udayton.edu), based at the University of Dayton, OH, is an Internet distance-learning initiative that supports catechetical formation of the Church. In collaboration with its partners throughout the country, VLCFF works to complement and support traditional diocesan efforts to enhance pastoral and educational services.

Over 45 online courses are available throughout a given year, including "Sacraments", "Scripture", "Catechesis", "Social Justice", "Jesus", "Ecclesiology" and "Church History".  The online courses typically run three to six weeks. Each is capped at 15 participants and is designed to be an experience within a small "virtual" community--not an independent study.

Courses are password protected and each course is $40. Because of the online outreach of the program, the certification courses can be done in the convenience of a catechist's home, provided there is reliable Internet access.

Along with receiving catechist certification for these courses, participants also will be given "continuing education units" for each course they take. A certificate will be given for each course and is co-signed by the University of Dayton and the Catechetical Office of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Another program is a closed group setup, which represents an option for Catholic school teachers who also need to be certified to teach religion.  In this setup the pastor or the principal may act as facilitator.  The group will come together for discussion and some activities will be performed online.  St. Stephen School, 131 Midland Ave., Kearny will launch the program this year.

Along with the opportunity to participate in these online courses, the archdiocese will continue to offer other programs such as the "Echoes of Faith", and "Spotlight on the Catechism".

Those interested in the online program should contact Elizabeth Foer (phone: (973) 497-4297; e-mail: foereliz@rcan.org) for English language information or José Planas (phone:  (973) 497-4290; e-mail: planasjo@rcan.org) for Spanish language information.