Franciscan University’s annual Catechetical Immersion day took place on Feb. 17, featuring guest speakers from different fields of ministry, all of whom explained their own experience in catechetical work and the imperative need for it.
The event began with 8 a.m. Mass celebrated by the Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, and then moved to the St. Joseph Center where the immersion sessions took place. With over 50 students in attendance, the day was full of catechetics majors eager to learn, following a prayer and introduction by Petroc Willey, a professor of catechetics at the university who received his ecclesiastical doctorate from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
Guest speakers shared their experiences in various missionary fields, particularly Catholic schools, parish youth ministries, dioceses and college campuses. The Rev. Louis Molinelli, SDB, ended the day by saying, “We can’t only find Jesus in Church. We have to find him in one another.”
All of the sessions addressed the thirst for Jesus in the hearts of his children. Joe Buganski, mission director of St. Paul’s Outreach at Ohio State University, spoke about his life as an urban missionary. He said, “Imagine India. That’s what a college campus is like in terms of spiritual poverty. … Souls are at stake on these campuses. … It’s the sober reality of campus ministry.”
Gloria “Gigi” Zapiain, director of religious education for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, provided students with resources for discernment and advice for job preparedness. “We have to do more with what we have,” she said, referring to modern technology. “We have to know how to articulate our vision.” She encouraged her audience to “look to the future” and “use opportunities now to prepare for the needs of the future.”
Speakers emphasized the importance of prayer and personal relationship with the Lord when stepping out into the work force. Franciscan University alumni Andy Wagenbach and Coreen Wagenbach gave advice for those pursuing a career in youth ministry.
Coreen Wagenbach, the director of religious education at her home parish, said people must ask God what he is doing and what their role is in what he is doing when entering into a new parish. “The Holy Spirit is there right now, already doing great things,” she said. “He already has a plan for that parish … wherever you end up you are going to become part of that bigger plan.”
Filled with stories of conversions, rejections and personal testimonies, the sessions provided students with “real world examples of what our prospective jobs are,” said freshman Natalie Garza.
Freshman Peter Salivi found the talks “inspirational,” giving him opportunity to “recenter and refocus.”
Rania Saade of Tampa, Florida, spoke about her teaching career at Jesuit High School, as did Martha Drennan, director of adult formation at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia. Both women shared the ins and outs of working for the Church, parents, students and faculty.
“It’s definitely made me more excited to go out into the field,” said Claire Simeo, a senior catechetics major. She said her time at the immersion day “filled me with a little bit of a new vigor for working for the Church and bringing others to Christ.”