USML | Catechetical Leadership

Institute for Ongoing Formation

Catechetical Leadership

Intended Audience: CRE’s, Principals, Youth Ministers looking to become Certified in their current role as Catechetical Leader. Theological Courses can be taken individually to count towards Re-Certification credit for Certified Catechists.


What is the Certificate of Studies in Catechetical Leadership?

The Certificate of Studies in Catechetical Leadership is a joint Archdiocesan program sponsored by the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry, the Department of Catholic Schools, and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Institute for Ongoing Formation (USML/IOF).


The Certificate of Studies in Catechetical Leadership Program is designed to:

- Provide parish and Catholic School Coordinators of Religious Education/Catechesis, and Coordinators of Youth Ministry with the theological, catechetical and ministerial content and skills for effective ministry in the parishes and Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the Archdiocese.

- Meet the requirements for Archdiocesan Certification of parish or school catechetical leaders and Coordinators of Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago.



Certificate as a Catechist or equivalent formation.

“The single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the leadership of a professionally trained parish catechetical leader.”

(National Directory for Catechesis)



There are eight core theological courses and five core ministerial courses and workshops common to all CREs and CYMs.  Additional ministerial courses may be required according to specialization.  All courses meet the 2006 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops National Standards for Catechetical Leaders and Youth Ministers.  Students are required to complete assigned class work for these courses to receive credit.

After the successful completion of all the courses the candidate will receive a Certificate of Studies in Catechetical Leadership from USML. Upon proof that the candidate has achieved USCCB Competencies for Catechetical Leaders and Youth Ministers, an evaluation of ministerial practicum, by the particular agency, the Archdiocesan Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry will grant the candidate Archdiocesan Certification as a Catechetical Leader.  The Archdiocesan certification process for catechetical leaders serving as a Coordinator of Religious Education and /or Coordinator of Youth Ministry is approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Commission on Certification and Accreditation.(USCCB/CCA.)


Eight Theological Courses Provided by the Institute for Ongoing Formation

 Old Testament

This course provides the historical, theological & literary perspectives of the various books.  Biblical foundations of social justice are also covered. In addition to grasping the basic material, the participants learn to: move from an uncritical toward a critical interpretation of the Bible; integrate the Old Testament with their spiritual and personal life; discover ministerial implications based on the Scriptures; and reflect on the communal dimensions of faith.


New Testament

This course begins with introducing participants to the world of the New Testament and how the gospels were written. Each gospel's specific setting, structure, and theological themes are explored.  Parables, miracles, and the passion and resurrection narratives are covered. Bridging from Luke into Acts; the rest of the course covers the early Christian community, Paul and his purpose in writing and Paul's literary style.



This course will investigate the search for the historical Jesus; the humanity and development of Jesus; the Church's articulation of its understanding of Jesus through church councils and magisterial teaching; the Jesus of history vs. Jesus of faith; the insights of contemporary Christology and; living the paschal mystery in one's own life.


Church History

This course focuses on the dynamic mission of the Church as it has unfolded over the past two thousand years.  Participants examine our Catholic heritage as manifested in the key events and people.


Sacramental/Liturgical Theology

This course is designed to be pastoral and ministerial in its approach, providing a background for authentic planning, preparation, and celebration of parish sacramental life.  Participants come to appreciate the sacramentality of life, to understand the church as a Eucharistic community, and view the other sacraments in this context.  Participants study principles of and acquire practice in leading communal prayer.


Christian Spirituality and Prayer

This course will examine the history and foundations of spirituality and prayer throughout the history of the Catholic Church.  Participants will reflect on their own spirituality, analyze the role of religious education in supporting and guiding spiritual formation and prayer in the various cultural and age settings, and develop practical skills for preparing liturgy and worship experiences.


Catholic Morality

Based on Scripture and theological principles this course will focus on our call to holiness.  It will explore the teachings of the Church on freedom and moral decision making, human sexuality, social justice, and the applications of Christian morality to current issues, such as: human life and death, genetic experimentation, war and peace, care of the earth, etc. Participants will be challenged to think globally and act locally.



In the Nicene Creed, which we recite at Mass each Sunday, we profess our belief in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.  This course will examine the origin, purpose, nature, and mission of the Catholic Church.  Participants will examine, in particular, the doctrine of the Church presented by the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium.


These eight theological courses are recommended options for those who are looking for recertification hours for their Catechist Certification, and do not require you to apply for the Certificate of Catechetical Leadership Certification Program.  Each course is worth 16 credit hours, with a significant component done ON LINE. Face to face portions are typically held at Dominican University. Courses are $150 each.

Schedule:  Schedule of Theological Courses is in progress. Please check back or contact Megan Deichl - see below.

To register: for a single Theological Course (as opposed to enrolling in the Certificate Program) contact: Megan Deichl, Associate Director, Institute for Ongoing Formation  Phone: 847.837.4558 Email: 

 Individual Courses may be taken by Certified Catechists for Certification Renewal.


Five Ministerial Courses and Workshop

Ministerial Courses and Workshops are offered by either the Office of Catechesis & Youth Ministry or the Office of Catholic Schools. Which courses are required depends on the position held.

All who are interested in enrolling in the Certification in Catechetical Leadership Program, should begin by filling out the application and contacting Megan Deichl at USML or Juan Castillo at the Office for Catechesis & Youth Ministry.

All courses meet the 2006 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops National Standards for Catechetical Leaders and Youth Ministers

Certified Catechists needing Recertification Credit

A Certified Catechist is expected to continue growing in their faith and is required to renew their Certification every five years.  There are many way to earn the 50 hours (10 per year) for recertification.  The Pillars of Catholic Faith may not be retaken for those hours.

The programs below are approved for re-certification available through the Institute for Ongoing Formation/USML.  For other opportunities, school personnel should call Esther Hicks, Director of Catholic School Identity at 312.534.5305.







Course Schedules

GENERAL INFORMATION – Certificate of Studies in Catechetical Leadership

Course Format, Scheduling & Contact Information for Theological Courses

To make these courses more accessible across the vast geographical map and diverse schedules of those pursuing the Certificate of Catechetical Leadership the format has been changed to be offered as primarily ON Line courses. Here is the format:

Course will be conducted within a 5-6 week period. (4-5 weeks in summer).

Students will meet for 2 to 2 ½  hours at the beginning of the course, and again towards the end of the course for the same amount of time. This face to face portion, will almost always be held at Dominican University. Usually, one of the 2 days usually will be a Saturday, one of them will be a week night evening. (This is to accommodate the two groups – one which prefers all Saturdays, and one group which finds Saturdays very problematic.)

At the first class the group will decide when all are available to ‘chat’ On Line one hour per week. There will be 4 hours of On Line ‘Chat’ or an instructor preference may be Group Conference Call. In addition, final day of face to face will be confirmed for availability.*

Four additional hours will be material the instructor posts on Moodle (University of St. Mary of the Lake web/course environment), which the student will view at their convenience, with certain deadlines.

Four additional hours will consist of On Line communication, posting reflections, comments or other writing per instructor determination regarding reading material and comments to other student postings, again at student’s convenience by a specific time per instructor.

A final paper will be due at end of course.

Please note: these are college level equivalent courses. Online often sounds very attractive, but real courses done online require commitment and a steady stream of your personal input to replace time missing in a classroom environment. In addition these are condensed courses. Please plan on spending 4-6 hours per week over 5 weeks for reading, assignments and posting online.



ON Line Courses


 MAY 2016

New Testament


Class #1:        Wednesday May 25  2 hours - Start time 7 pm

 Instructor:      Fr. McIlhone,  S.T.L., Ph. D.

Location:        Dominican University

Final Class:    TBD  Either June 22 or 29th 

* Please Note * Anyone who needs this course but requires an alternate schedule, please send your request to:


The Archdiocese of Chicago Lay Ministry program offers some courses that are available as a direct equivalent for the Certificate of Studies in Catechetical Leadership Program. The format is 8 weeks on Monday evenings with the benefit of 2 locations, one north at the University of St. Mary of the Lake and one south at St. Xavier University.

 Megan Deichl   Email:  or  Phone: 847.837.4558

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