Meet a Young Catechetical Leader: William O’Leary

One of the great joys of my job is meeting other young catechetical leaders in the Church. There’s not a lot of us, but I can already see the impact many of these “next generation:” leaders are making.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring some of these young catachetical leaders on my blog. Today’s interview is with William O’Leary, the Director of Faith Formation at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Kansas, and a blogger at Catechesis in the Third Millennium and Amazing Catechists.

How were you called to the ministry of catechesis?
Ever since college I’ve had the desire to share the Gospel with others and teach others about the Catholic Faith. I decided when I was a junior to major in theology so I could prepare for work in a parish.

What is the best part of your job?
The people. I see that each day is an opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet to those who come into our office or the kids I see in the hallways or the phone calls I receive.

What gifts do you think young Catholics bring to the Church in general and catechesis in particular?
In general young Catholics bring their witness of their love for Christ. They want to see what is good and true in the lives around them and are eager to identify what is right and good. In particular young people have a unique opportunity to echo their faith in a way that is more accepted than with older adults. When young people share about their faith it is often received with more openness than when adults talk about their faith. I think young Catholics, or as I like to say our “young parishioners” have a unique opportunity to proclaim their Catholic Faith to those around them.

What is one misconception people have about young catechetical leaders?
If by young you mean catechetical leaders that are in their 20’s then I’d say that a misconception is that they don’t have the credibility they often times deserve. Of course we’ve all seen situations where when we are young we go about things a little differently than when we have learned from those same situations and mistakes along the way. But there are many young catechetical leaders that have such credibility because of the love of the Faith and desire to serve.

How do you balanace your work in catechesis with the other roles you play in life?
Being a husband and a father of 3 young children it can be challenging to be present at every ministry function that I’d like to be at. I often have to remember that being a husband and father is my primary vocation. I love being a catechetical leader but I have a “higher calling” in the home than I do at the parish.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing catechetical leaders today?
Where do I begin? I don’t know if I’m prepared to name the biggest but a huge challenge today is how parents have their children in so many activities that often a child’s religious education gets the short end of the stick. There multiple reasons for this but it remains a great challenge.

Episode 010 – Atlanta Memories


I just got back from the 75th annual NCCL convention and expo in Atlanta, Georgia. I had a great time meeting new friends, catching up with old friends, engaging in learning sessions, and experiencing TED-style general sessions.

I also took a portable audio recorder with me to talk with some of the presenters, attendees, and NCCL leaders at the conference. This “audio postcard” gives just a glimpse of what we all heard, saw, and felt during our five days in Atlanta. Enjoy!

“Restoring clarity where there had been confusion…”

There are worse ways to mark the passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, than by taking to heart these words from an unpublished interview by John Allen:

I began by explaining the gist of my project, which is to identify the most important forces shaping the future of the Catholic church over the next 100 years. Dulles did not hesitate to offer his candidate: “The internal solidification of Catholicism,” he said, a project that Dulles said began under Pope John Paul II and continues under Pope Benedict XVI.

I pressed Dulles to explain what he meant.

“Restoring clarity where there had been confusion in the period following the Second Vatican Council,” Dulles said. “Rebuilding a strong sense of Catholic identity, including a clear repudiation of the notion that church history can be divided into a ‘before’ and ‘after’ Vatican II. You can see this working itself out today in theology, in liturgy, in religious life ¬¶ both popes have emphasized the organic connection between the ‘now’ of the church and what came before.”

Read the whole interview. It is, as you would expect, very insightful.