USML | Pillars of Catholic Faith

Institute for Ongoing Formation

Pillars of Catholic Faith


FINAL CALL-Opportunity to finish Catechist Certification in Existing Model

Looking for a last pillar? We are taking a survey to assess needs: RSVP to survey by April 8th to

 As you may know-the Catechetical Certification process is completely changing to a new model as of July 1, 2016. There will be no more pillars as part of the new process!

The new model has 3 tiers. You will receive some "credit" for pillars taken that will count for some time in the new model if you are not yet Certified.

If you are not certain which pillars you have completed, please contact or Diana at 847-837-4575.

To see the schedule and register for pillars go to, choose Pillars...

Profession of Faith- CREED- will be offered ONLINE with USML- you must notify us of your desire to take this course BY APRIL 8th! Email request to :

Liturgy, Sacraments & Prayer is not currently set up-however, please advise if you need this pillar, and if we have sufficient numbers, we will schedule as convenientlly as we can for those requiring it. An online hybrid may be a possibility if the requests are too spread out. Email to:

To complete your Certification in the current program, you will also need to register for your retreat. Click here for the application form  and go to for updated retreat dates and locations. Please note that the last page of the application form has not been updated with the most recent information of the retreat dates and locations. This will be revised soon.

Though these retreats are listed as part of the new pilot program, they can be used for the final retreat in the current program!

Below is the calendar of deadlines for completing your certification in the current program:

CALENDAR of Deadlines:

APRIL 8thSurvey due for Liturgy, Sacraments & Prayer and Online version of CREED pillar to        

April 12th – LAST Morality pillar begins – held at Old St. Mary’s

April 13th AND 20th – RETREAT - two part retreat at St. John Brebeuf

April 18th – LAST Scripture & Tradition pillar begins – held at Old St. Mary’s

April 23rd – RETREAT – St. John of the Cross

April 28th – Scripture & Tradition at Our Lady of Perpetual Help – LIMITED availability

April 22nd – Retreat (registration is FULL!)

May 1 – RETREAT at St. Aloysius Parish

May 13th – APPLICATION DEADLINE for Certification due to the Office of Catholic Schools*

June 9th – Certification Ceremony

*You may apply for Certification within deadline if you register for the pillar and retreat even though they have not been completed*


The Pillars of Catholic Faith programs will still apply toward certification. Those who wish to complete the process are encouraged to do so.

USML Faculty will continue to teach the Pillars classes at hosting schools  until May 2016. 

There have been many teacher inquiries for locations of Pillars classes. We need Liturgy, Sacraments and Prayer to be offered, therefore we are seeking a hosting school.

Pillars of Catholic Faith 

The Pillars of Catholic Faith program is designed for school personnel, and is a joint effort between the Institute for Ongoing Formation at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, the Office of Catholic Schools, and the Office of Catechesis & Youth Ministry which is the final certifying body.  

There are four pillar courses. Each pillar course requires ten hours of class instruction by an adjunct Instructor of the University and hired and assigned by The Institute for Ongoing Formation. The courses offered through the University of St. Mary of the Lake earn Continuing Education Units. Classes are conveniently held at schools throughout the Chicago Archdiocese.

All Catholic school teachers must complete the Four Pillars of Catholic Faith.  This requirement is to ensure that all teachers have the same understanding of our Catholic Faith and represent the Catholic Faith in day to day school life.  It is NOT designed as an aid to directly instruct school children in these areas. 

The Pillars do not have to be taken in a particular order but we do recommend they follow the following sequence whereever possible.

The Four Pillars of Catholic Faith are:            

Scripture & Tradition 

Christianity is a revealed religion. This fact is constitutional to any understanding of the Catholic Faith.  This course considers the human capacity for God and God's initiative to meet humankind through revelation.  It considers the stages of revelation in the history of the people of Israel and in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ.  The conservation and transmission of the Faith through Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and our response of belief are also covered.

Profession of Faith – Creed 

When God reveals humanity's response to believe, the Creed presents the basic "rule of faith" which tells us the content of the Catholic Faith.  Central to Christianity is belief in the Trinity.  After a study of God's inner life, the course turns to Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  It will consider the Incarnation, the Passion, Cross and Resurrection, Ascension and Second Coming.  Finally, we consider the work of the Holy Spirit, the nature and mission of the Church, Mary and the Last Things.

Liturgy, Sacraments & Prayer 

The central insight of Catholic Christianity is the sacramental economy, which is the work of the Holy Trinity in human history.  Our liturgical and sacramental life is the mirror of our belief and one of the means by which our Tradition is handed on to each generation.  Our individual prayer prepares us for the liturgy and extends its celebration in our spiritual life.  The module will consider the liturgy, the seven sacraments, and devotional prayer.

Catholic Morality

 Our belief draws forth a vocation to life in the Spirit.  That life is grounded in the dignity of the human person and the communal character of the human vocation. This module will consider free will, conscience, virtue, and sin.  It will survey the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church.  It will also explore the role of morality in personal holiness and social justice.

Pillar Course Schedule and Registration

Pillars of Catholic Faith

Pillars of Catholic Faith courses are held at Catholic Schools throughout the Chicago Archdiocese hosted by generous principals. The hosting school chooses the pillar, days, and times within guidelines provided. 

Courses are added on a continuous basis as schools offer to host.  Approximately 80 pillar courses are scheduled per year, in every Vicariate in the Archdiocese.  June and August offer approximately 20 pillar courses each.  No courses are held in July.

For Schedules:  Schedules for the Pillar of Catholic Faith courses are found at the right

We are looking for schools willing to host Pillars Classes. We will hire and pay the instructors - just need the classroom space. 

To Register:  Email your full name (as you would like it to appear on your certificate of completion), school of employment, contact information, and desired Course ID# (ex. 1314SCR2) to: It should be in this format:


First Name  Last Name
School name and city
email address
phone #
course #

Or call Associate Director Megan Deichl at 847-837-4558 with the above info.

Tuition:  is $95.00.  Invoices will be sent to principals after the course has been completed.  Certificates of Completion will be mailed after payment has been applied.  

Schools please mail payment to:

University of St. Mary of the Lake
Finance Department - Sandy Hessler
1000 E. Maple Avenue
Mundelein, IL  60060 
                                             ~ Thank you.







Hosting a pillar at your school

Hosting a Pillar at Your School

It’s very easy to host any of the four Pillars of Catholic Faith.  We try to do all the work at this end, but need schools to provide the facility.  This spreads the location of the courses around the Dioceses making it easier for teachers and supports attending with co-workers. See current pillars course schedule for examples. Below are basic questions to address, see further details: 

  •  What dates/times work for your school calendar?
    • Allow 10 instructive hours for the course (then add break times – hour lunch and 2 - 15 minute breaks)
  •  Which of the Pillar Courses?  (listed below in typical order)
    • Profession of Faith – Creed
    • Liturgy, Sacraments, and Prayer
    • Scripture and Tradition
    • Catholic Morality
  • Shall we Post it on our Website ( and open registration to guarantee a minimum of 12?
  • What room should the teachers/instructor be directed to go?
  • Are parking instructions needed for visiting teachers/instructor? 
  • Any plans for breakfast/lunch/snacks/drinks or should everyone be on their own?

After the first two questions are answered, Megan Deichl, our Associate Director of Ongoing Formation In Ministry, who manages our institute’s calendar will schedule the course and instructor.  After your choice is scheduled on the calendar, we can address the third question and begin to register teachers.

Thank you for your interest in hosting and offering this opportunity to your teachers!  Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. 



Initial Catechetical Certification


All teachers in the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic School System are required to take the Four Pillars of Catholic Faith. If a teacher is a practicing Catholic, he or she should continue to pursue certification as a Catechist.  Click on this link Initial Catechetical Certification Application  for an example of the application.  Updated applications should be obtained from Caroline Braas in the Office of Catholic School Identity at 312-534-5244.


*** Once a teacher is a Certified Catechist, the pillars are NOT to be re-taken for Re-Certification. ***

Requirements are completion of the following:

  • Pillars of Catholic Faith:  1) Scripture and Tradition; 2) Profession of Faith - Creed; Liturgy; 3) Sacraments, and Prayer; and 4) Cathoic Morality.  These courses are offered through the University of St. Mary of the Lake.*  Other comparable theology courses as listed in the application may be able to be used as equivalencies upon approval. 

  • Reflection Paper: the question is found in the application

  • Day of Reflection:  Request to attend is found on the application. Contact the Office of Catholic School Identity at 312.534.5244.   

*The database for the Pillars of Catholic Faith program has been kept and maintained since the 1990’s, though the original Ongoing Formation organization was disbanded and restructured through USML in 2006. For inquires of past records, transcripts, Certificates, upcoming courses, or hosting a Pillar contact us. 


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 offered at the Institute for Ongoing Formation that are approved for re-certification are the theological courses in the Catechetical Leadership Program and the Summer Scripture Seminar.  See Menu links at right for these programs. For other opportunities, school personnel should call the office of Catholic School Identity at 312.534.5305.

contact us      

Megan Deichl at: 847.837.4558

or email




Institute For Ongoing Formation Catholic Pillars Instructors

Elena Chermak, MDiv, DMin – Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for Archdiocese of Chicago

Anne Chrzan, MHS, MDiv – Associate Director, Institute for Deacon Formation

Deacon Bob Cislo, MDiv

Lois DeFelice – Vicariate VI Catechetical Ministry Coordinator

Marge Garbacz – Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for Archdiocese of Chicago

Reverend Bernard Kennedy, OFM, MEd, DMin (Cand)

Reverend Henry Kricek, MA, STL

Terry Navarro, MAPS – Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for Archdiocese of Chicago

Clare Poupard, MDiv – Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for Archdiocese of Chicago

Deacon Bob Puhala, MS, MA – Director,  Institute for Diaconal Studies

Michelle Shaffer, MAPS – Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for Archdiocese of Chicago

Reverend William Sheridan, MDiv, STL, MAS, MA, MA

Catherine Sims, MEd, MDiv – Certified Lay Ecclesial Minister for Archdiocese of Chicago

Deacon Chuck Thompson

Vivian Williams, MAPS


Contact Us

Megan Deichl at: 847.837.4558 or email:


To see this video you need to upgrade to the latest HTML5 compatible browser or download Adobe Flash Player.