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Commission on Formation
The main thrust, the life and heart of the Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila is formation. While the catechists provide formation in the faith for their students, they too are constantly provided with very rich opportunities for renewal and growth.
This part of the manual focuses on the formation programs which the CFAM provides its catechists while it faces the challenges that Pope John Paul II tries to communicate in his address to the Plenary Assembly of the CEP on April 30, 1992:
to set high standards means both to provide thorough basic training and to keep it constantly updated. This is a fundamental duty, in order to ensure qualified personnel for the Church’s mission, with good training programs and adequate structures, providing for all aspects of formation: human, spiritual, doctrinal, apostolic and professional (JP II, CEP 1992).
The formation of catechists is indispensable if the apostolate is to attain full efficacy.
Orientation and Integration Program (OIP) is a part of the Formation Program of the Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila. It orients new hires, on the vision-mission, objectives and organization, the concrete apostolate, their duties and responsibilities, their rights and benefits, the Norms and Policies.
OIP also aims at helping the catechist to be accustomed with their apostolate as well as to be a “community” among catechists. .
Participants. (1) new hires, (2) regular catechists over five years of service and (3) catechists who just came from a prolonged leave of absence i.e., two or more years.
Though designed for new hires, OIP is also intended for catechists who came back from a prolonged leave of absence of two or more years or who are over five years of service and needing re-training and renewal program. In the light of PCP II and PCM II the new hires and the permanent catechists in this program are given a unique and enriching experience of praying; celebrating; working; and studying together for a period of not more than one week. Follow-up programs for new hires are provided for 3 years during their probationary period.
Program and Content. (1) Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila Vision and Mission, (2) Manual of Norms and Policies, (3) Human/Formation/Personhood (4) Spirituality of the Catechesis, (5) Methodology, and (6) Community Building Activities.
Budget. The Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila shoulders the expenses of the program.
Staffing. Orientation and Integration Program is handled by the Ministry Assistant for Formation and the Catechetical Coordinators in-charge of Formation. The Coordinators follow a rotation scheme in order to give each coordinator a chance to participate.
Section B. Formation Program for Probationary Catechists
A catechist on his or her first year of service is given only a teaching load of fifteen (15) hours per week and (5) hours for follow-up formation
This is to allow him/her to slowly adjust in the apostolate.
The five-hour weekly follow-up program for probationary catechists includes the following:
1. Ongoing formation/meetings of all new hires or probationary catechists. The Coordinator in-charge of new hires set a common date for the OGF/meeting of new hires in the Area/Diocese. Each Diocese designs their own program for this meeting, which includes Content, Methods, Conference with Coordinator, and Fellowship/Celebrations.
2. Regular Observation. New hires shall observe the more experienced and competent catechists. They shall be observed by Coordinators at least once a month.
On the second year of service, the catechists on probationary period shall assume the 20-hour regular teaching load. Follow up program (OIP) shall continue on a quarterly basis.
Section C. Ongoing Formation: Diocese and
Archdiocesan Levels and Special Formation
Local Ordinaries are to ensure that catechists are duly trained to carry out their office properly, namely that the continuing formation is available to them, that they have an appropriate knowledge of the teaching of the Church, and that they learn both the theory and the practice of the principles of pedagogy. –Canon 780
The main objective of the on-going formation (OGF) program is to make available for catechists a well-spring of living water that nourishes and strengthens conviction and commitment to Christ and his teachings.
For all catechists, on-going formation is a necessity, in order to increase their fervor, purify their motives and improve their knowledge and teaching skills. –PCP II 648
1. Diocesan Ongoing Formation
The Diocesan On-Going Formation is an essential component of the Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila for it forms the base or the ground where all the other On-Going Formation is rooted. All catechists gather simultaneously every Friday in their respective area/diocese for their regular ongoing formation. The OGF provides also an opportunity for follow-up of other ministry concerns. The main objective of the Diocese OGF program is to make available for catechists a well spring of living water that nourishes, and strengthens CONVICTION and COMMITMENT to Christ and His teachings. This is done by providing them a formative itinerary that is scripturally based, integrated, Christ centered, inculturated, and community forming. Simultaneously, it offers a continual renewal in (1) Integral and Personal Development, (2) Content, (3) Methodology, (4) Current Issues and Church Social Teachings, and (5) Community Building Activities. Normally, the OGF is held every Friday of the month.
The topics to be given on Fridays are subject to change depending on the needs of the Catechists and the Current Issues concerning the Church.
Semestral breaks are vacation days, except for the two-day evaluation of activities.
The budget for this purpose is assumed entirely by each diocese.
2. CFAM Ongoing Formation
This is an important component of the multi-leveled on-going formation program for catechists. At certain time during the year, all catechists of the Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiuocese of Manila are called for a general assembly to (1) discuss burning issues confronting the Church at present, (2) listen to experts regarding topics that are relevant, (3) socialize, and (4) celebrate together in solemn liturgical celebration a special event or occasion.
3. Ongoing Formation for Catechists on Special Assignment
All catechists on special assignment are provided with an ongoing formation designed to help them cope with the demands of their position and to make them effective leaders of CFAM. The special ongoing formation is intended for the following:
a. Head Catechists
b. Grade Level Chairpersons
c. Year Level Chairpersons
d. Youth animator
4. Formation of Volunteer Catechists
The Volunteer Catechists are highly encouraged to undergo the formation program intended for them so that they can be more effective in the ministry of catechesis. They have to be a graduate of the basic formation program of the diocese, are required to sign a covenant committing themselves to the teaching of catechesis in the public schools. They are encouraged to follow the ongoing formation for the regular. They should be recommended by the Coordinator of the Volunteer Catechists in their diocese and recognized as a volunteer catechist by the parish priest.
5. Formation of Coordinators
The formation of catechetical Coordinators includes: supervision, direction and management. A pscho-spiritual and theological formation with practical skills development in leadership and in a variety of administrative areas help them carry out their fundamental task of formation and training of Catechists. A development program is designed to enhance their competence and develop their professionalism.
Section D. Observation and Supervision
In view of assisting catechists to become better communicators of the faith, coordinators and GLC/YLC observe and supervise them on their actual teaching.
All catechists including contractuals, and new hires are subject to observation and supervision.
Frequency of Classroom Observation
1. at least once a month – for catechists on probation; and for catechists who have received unsatisfactory or poor performance rating in the preceding school year.
2. at least two to three times a year – for catechists who have received good rating in the preceding school year
3. at least once a year – for very good and excellent performance in the preceding year.
The frequency of observations and supervisions of catechists in the classroom is based on the prudent and wise decision or judgment of the Coordinator .
Authorized Observers and Observation Tool
The Diocese Coordinators, GLC, and YLC are the authorized personnel to conduct classroom observations/supervisions. In observing catechists, CFAM Observation Form shall be used as an official observers’ aid or tool for measuring the teaching quality of each catechist. This form shall be provided by CFAM office. Both the observer and the catechist sign the observation form to attest to the fact that the ratings have been shown and discussed with the catechist.
Post Observation Conference or Evaluation
An evaluation takes place after every observation done by the Coordinator or GL/YL Chairperson. An immediate feedback is given for an objective appraisal of the catechist’s performance in the classroom and subsequent improvement on the part of the catechist.
Section E. Retreats and Recollection
Spiritual exercises such as retreats and recollections are vital in the spiritual formation of CFAM Personnel. One retreat and two recollections are made available to them per school year.
Section F. Apostolic Mandate
Apostolic mandate is an official act of the Church whereby the Ordinary of the diocese confers on the lay person the privilege to communicate the Catholic Faith in doctrine, worship and life according to the directives of the Magisterium of the Church. Conferment is done after the candidate has undergone intensive preparation in the study of the Catholic Faith.
On the part of the personnel requesting for the Apostolic Mission, this conferment signifies his/her commitment to the fundamental task of evangelization and catechesis within the Archdiocese/Diocese.
Besides, it is hoped that, where it seems opportune, catechists who are duly trained will receive a canonical mission in a public celebrated ceremony. In this way they can serve the faith with greater authority in the eyes of the people. (Vat II, The Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, 17).
Requirements for Regular Catechists
To qualify for the apostolic mandate, a candidate must –
1. be a regular catechist of the Ministry
2. signify in writing the desire to receive commissioning;
3. be favorably recommended by parish priest and coordinator on the basis of performance, witnessing, and commitment to the catechetical apostolate;
4. be committed to work full-time for three years,
5. have undergone 3 days retreat as an immediate preparation for commissioning.