John Paul Meenan, who teaches Theology at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barry’s Bay, Ont., will be teaching the classes on the Catechism at the Wojtyla Summer Institute. Photo courtesy of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy

Summer institute for teachers aims to bring catechism out of the shadows

By  Erin Morawetz, The Catholic Register
  • June 16, 2012

Paul Coates attended the first annual Wojtyla Summer Institute for Catholic teachers last summer at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Barry’s Bay, Ont., and he wasn’t disappointed by the experience.

“The speakers were interesting, the material … highly learned, and inspired by faith,” Coates, a philosophy teacher and chair of the religion department at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ont., said of the institute, which last year was based on the theology of the body.

Keith Cassidy, president of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, was also very satisfied with the outcome of the weekend-long conference and has brought it back for a second year at the Eastern Ontario Catholic post-secondary institution.

“The reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” Cassidy said. “(The attendees) were very enthusiastic and very much wanted us to keep having these institutes.”

The summer institute weekend — running this year Aug. 9-12 — is aimed at teachers, but not exclusive to them.

“We’re serving the Church by helping teachers — not only teachers, but particularly teachers — to refresh and augment their knowledge of the faith,” Cassidy said. “It gives them an opportunity to update, refresh their knowledge of their faith … to help them to be more useful in bringing faith to their students.”

This year’s institute focuses on the catechism, in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s goals for the Year of Faith.

“The point is to bring the Catechism of the Catholic Church out of the shadows,” Cassidy said. “To remind people to use it, and to use it properly.”

The weekend is structured around lectures and small discussions, particularly about the ways in which the Catholic perspective can be incorporated in different subject areas, such as literature, history and science. But Cassidy stressed there is a strong social element for participants as well.

“They come away with a renewed sense of fellowship and (a realization) that they are part of a larger movement of people,” Cassidy said. “(They) develop new contacts and friends and networks.”

Coates, who attended the institute last summer with his wife and several of their friends, is eager to return because his experience the first time was so great.

“People walked away from that conference with a whole set of tools and a whole set of meanings that were much deeper than when they arrived,” Coates said. “We were talking about it all the way home.”

Coates is a fan of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, having seen firsthand its fruits through his family.

“I’m a strong supporter of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom because my daughter went there and … loved it,” Coates told The Catholic Register. “The strong quality of education … is second to none, both in faith and in reason. It balances them very well.”


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