The Classroom and Beyond: Forum for Young Catechetical Leaders

The Forum for Young Catechetical Leaders: the name in itself is a mouthful, but the goal and purpose of the class are even more complex.  I signed up for this class to fulfill a requirement for my degree, Secondary Religious Education, not knowing exactly what the class entailed. Part of me was excited, it was a class to learn about the Catechism, the book that represents the Catholic Church and the doctrine that I am called to live by. What could be better? This class has the notorious reputation of being the only class that Dayton offers on a Saturday and it contains a demanding online component, staying optimistic and open-minded was a bit of a struggle.

       After completing the first of four semesters of the class, I feel much more comfortable advocating for this forum. First and foremost the subject matter is important. This class is meant to prepare students to go out and spread the word of God. Never did I question “But will I use this in real life?” because what we were learning directly related to our lives as individuals and our call to live out the mission that was given to us at baptism. Never before did I have a class where the content resonated so closely with me, challenging me to live my life differently and pass on the faith with greater zeal and courage.

       Secondly, the forum allowed for a great environment to form between the professors and the students because of the small class size. Forum is unlike any other class on campus for many reasons. We only meet four times during the semester. There are only six students and there are four professors. You could say that we nailed everyone’s name within the first thirty minutes.  Everyone had the opportunity to speak his/her mind, ask questions and relate what we were learning back to his/her personal life. The small faith community that formed from this class was also unique because we had the opportunity to pray before and after our sessions, a blessing that really set the tone for what the class is all about.

       Thirdly, this class had a goal in mind that surpassed the components of a grading scale. Yes we had homework, mostly consisting of readings and responses through an online program, and we were graded on this. However, the real “workload” of our class could not be measured with a grading scale or even inside the classroom. The real “assignment” takes place outside of the classroom in the real world every day. The class is meant to prepare youth, you and I, to go out and pass on the faith, to participate in lifelong formation and spiritual growth by walking with others, and to teach the way of Christ. So although my grade reflects how well I read and responded to prompts, my true assessment will not be from one of the four professors who taught me during class, instead it will come from the true teacher of the faith, the only one who perfectly performed the faith and the act of passing on the Word - Christ our Lord.

       This class is exciting and real and relatable for all those who are serious about the faith, but it does require some sacrifice. Between waking up on Saturdays for class and working on readings that are loaded with information that your mind struggles to comprehend, many students can become frustrated, overwhelmed or complacent with the class. I would be lying if I said this didn’t happen to me this past semester. But don’t these same attitudes come out in our faith lives? Don’t we become frustrated or pushed to the point where we want to give up?  This just proves one more way that this class is so interconnected with our lives. It requires sacrifices, it challenges our complacency, but it also instills a sense of hope. This hope is found in the opportunity to take a class that teaches us how to be better echoes of the Church. This hope rises up when the participants share personal faith testimonies. And this hope pushes us further so that we can all learn how to better teach and pass on the joy of the Gospel while proclaiming louder to the world around us what Christ has to offer.

Written by: Abigail Dawes

Edited by: Emily Ely and Victoria Schoen
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