“Gather the children… and teach them what they should know for salvation.”

Last week, after my speaking engagement at the Diocese of Green Bay’s Adult Faith Formation and Catechetical Leadership Day, my family and I stuck around for a few days and enjoyed a short vacation. We went to the usual sites, including a visit to the National Railroad Museum (for the kids) and a tour of Lambeau Field (for my wife and me).

But the highlight of the trip was on the second day when we drove 20 minutes to Champion, Wisconsin, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. This shrine is located at the spot of the only Church-approved Marian apparition in the United States.

In 1859 Adele Brise, a youth Belgian immigrant, saw a woman in white standing between two trees. She was frightened by the vision, which reappeared a second time the following Sunday as she was walking to Mass. She asked a priest for advice and he told her she should ask it, “In the Name of God, who are you and what do you wish of me?”

On her way home the lady appeared again and Adele did as she had been instructed. The lady replied, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same.” Adele was also told to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”

Adele dedicated the rest of her life to catechizing the children of rural Wisconsin, walking from community to community and later founding a school at the spot of the apparition. (It was closed in the 1920s and is now a sandwich shop, but some of the original blackboards are still hanging up!)

Adele Brise is a wonderful example of the humility and perseverance needed for catechists today. The Blessed Mother’s call to œteach them what they should know for salvation  remains our calling whether as parents, catechists, Catholic school teachers, youth ministers, RCIA team members, or any number of other roles we play in our lives.

I pray that, during this month of Mary, the Queen of Heaven will pray for catechists everywhere that they may fulfill her son’s will to make disciples in his Church.

Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!

Diocese of Green Bay Adult Faith Formation & Catechetical Leadership Day

Attention cheeseheads! Tim Welch of the Diocese of St. Cloud and I will be co-presenters at this year’s Adult Faith Formation & Catechetical Leadership Day at the Rock Garden Conference Center on April 26:

As catechists, we have been called to tell the Story of God’s Reign, and to tell it well. As ministers we have been called to empower our learners to tell their stories as growing disciples. Join us as we explore why and how to use technology in faith formation. Together with Tim Welch, we will explore 28,217 years of media and technology tools, from oral traditions to mobile apps, bringing us to the tools of today ¦and perhaps beyond!

Jonathan Sullivan will help take some of the mystery and apprehension out of online tools by demonstrating how to integrate social media into a parish’s adult faith formation efforts, beginning with a “live” demonstration of how to set up a parish Facebook page for one lucky participant! He will also explain just what Twitter is good for, what every parish web site should have on the front page (but very few do), and the value of a “human voice” in online interactions. Jonathan’s presentation encourages interaction and “try-as-you-go” methods, so bring your laptop or other mobile device.

If you’re in the area I’d love to see you there! Registration is only $25. A printable flyer with more information is also available.