Verbum Domini Institute
About the Verbum Domini Biblical & Catechetical Institute
Welcome and Mission Statement
Welcome to the Verbum Domini Biblical & Catechetical Institute! The Archdiocese of Hobart seeks to fulfil the role of forming the Catholic faithful through the establishment of this Institute. A key role of the Institute is to form, and then commission, active parishioners to be catechists for the Archdiocese, who can then work in their parishes in the sacramental preparation of children and the preparation of adults for entry into the Catholic Church.
The Institute takes its name from Pope Benedict XVI’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (2010) which called for the establishment of specialised institutes for biblical studies where the laity and missionaries can come to understand, live, and proclaim the Word of God.
The Second Vatican Council recognised the existence of, and need for, catechists. The Council called for the establishment of diocesan schools where “catechists may study Catholic doctrine, especially in the fields of Scripture and the liturgy, as well as catechetical method and pastoral practice; schools wherein they can develop in themselves a Christian character, and wherein they can devote themselves tirelessly to cultivating piety and sanctity of life” (Ad Gentes, 17).
Pope St John Paul II, in his great document on the Mission of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Missio), speaks of the “army of catechists, both men and women” who have built the Church in mission areas and continue to intensify their catechetical activity in older and established churches (n. 73). The Pope reiterated the Council’s call for the establishment of catechist training schools.
The Task of Catechesis
The task of catechesis is “to show who Jesus Christ is, his life and ministry, and to present the Christian faith as the following of his person” (General Directory for Catechesis, 41). As such, the Verbum Domini Biblical & Catechetical Institute seeks to form adult members of the Christian faithful to be firmly committed disciples of Jesus Christ, who are confident and competent in transmitting the integrity of the Catholic faith and life to those who are enquiring about Christ, those in the process of full initiation into the life of the Church, and those members of the Christian faithful who seek a deeper understanding of the mystery of Christ and conversion to the Person of Jesus Christ.
St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 338-397) is the Patron of the Institute due to his profound understanding of Scripture and his ability to pass it on through the catechesis of the lay faithful. He is also well-known for his participation in the conversion and catechetical instruction of St. Augustine, who became one of the greatest theologians of the Church in the West. St. Ambrose is one of the first four Doctors of the Church together with St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great. St. Ambrose, pray for us!
The ‘Order of Catechist’ & Catechist Formation Program
In August 2020, Archbishop Julian Porteous established the ‘Order of Catechist’ for the Archdiocese of Hobart. This Order establishes the role of catechists within the life of the Church in Tasmania. Evangelisation and catechesis are the two primary works of the Church in her mission to spread the gospel and make Christian disciples. The Order has been placed under the patronage of Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom.
Click here for details about the Catechist Formation Program and Registration: https://hobart.catholic.org.au/beliefs-and-works/evangelisation-catechisis/verbum-domini-institute/courses-how-to-register/
Catechesis and the Catechist
Catechesis is the teaching and maturation stage of the process of evangelisation. Once people come to an initial faith in Christ, they are then ready for catechesis. “[T]he definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity” (Catechesi Tradendae, 5).
The catechist teaches how to live the Christian life, thus leading people to deepen their relationship with Christ. The catechist is not merely a teacher, but someone who accompanies others in their ongoing conversion to Christ. The Catechist is someone who has received a call from God to undertake this special role in the mission of the Church. This call or vocation must be appropriately discerned and nurtured.
Formation of Catechists
Knowing how to promote ongoing conversion requires a specialised formation for catechists. Catechesis is not simply communicating information about the Catholic faith; it is aimed at forming people to be mature Christian disciples. Catechists themselves must be authentic witnesses to their own Christian faith and possess a deep spiritual life nourished by the sacraments.
The formation of catechists will include spiritual, scriptural, doctrinal, apostolic, and professional areas. The Verbum Domini Biblical & Catechetical Institute will facilitate this formation from 2021.
Mandate and Commissioning
Once the formation is completed, and with the recommendation of those responsible for their formation, candidates will be presented to the bishop to receive a formal mandate to be a Catechist in the Archdiocese of Hobart. This means they will be commissioned to participate in the bishop’s own teaching office within the local church. Mandated catechists will be able to assume the ministry of catechist where required in the archdiocese.