Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In
Skip Navigation LinksADLA Administrative Handbook > Chapter 4 - Catholic Identity and Religious Ed > 4.2 - Religious Education in Parishes > 4.2.2 - Formation: Catechist, Master Catechist, and Parish Catechetical Leadership

Print this topic


​The Pontifical Council for the Promoting the New Evangelization released the new Directory for Catechesis in July 2020. The Directory provides the authoritative overall vision, goals, and guidance for the Roman Catholic Church in how the message of the Gospel is announced to the faithful. The direction established in the Directory is being studied for implementation in the Archdiocese over the next few years. As this process develops, the particular policies and procedures in this Chapter 4 will be updated.​​


​Religious education in the Church in the United States is entrusted to catechists, master catechists and parish catechetical leaders. The Office of Religious Education oversees, organizes, and provides training for these persons to carry out their functions and issues catechetical certificates​ to those who have completed the various programs.​​ The Office of Religious Education assists parish directors of religious education and coordinators of faith formation ministries in their formation and helps them qualify leaders for their particular parish catechetical needs.

​Basic Ministry Formation

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles provides formation in compliance with the guidelines of the bishops​ of the California Catholic Conference.​ The formation course consists of three phases: theological, specialization, and practicum. Basic ministry formation is required for catechists; the program is also used by other ministries for formation purposes.

1.  ​T​​​​heological Phase​

The theological phase of basic ministry formation and catechist certification in the archdiocese is extensive. It requires a time commitment of no fewer than 40 hours. The theological phase includes but is not limited to sessions covering:

  • ​God's Self Revelation
  • The Trinity
  • Christology​​​
  • Ecclesiology
  • Liturgy
  • Sacramental Theology
  • Missionary Spirit
  • Moral Training
  • Prayer and Spirituality
​2.  Specialization Phase

The specialization phase develops and equips the catechist with the vision and skills for forming people in faith. 

3.  Practicum Phase

​The practicum phase requires the candidate for catechetical certification to be observed and evaluated by certified catechists in a catechetical setting. Once the practicum phase is completed, the catechist is eligible to be certified by the archdiocesan Office of Reli​gio​us Education​​. A final interview concludes the process. ​​

Candidates for Catechist and Basic Ministry Formation

The requirements for certification as a catechist are found in Guidelines for Obtaining the California Catechist Certificate and the California Master Catechist Certificate (English version: See "Personal Qualities of a Catechist" on page 5; Spanish version: See "Cualidades personales del Catequista" on page 8).

Advanced Ministry Studies

Advanced Ministr​y Studies ​(AMS) is the formation program sponsored by the Archdiocese​​ ​of Los Angeles to prepare people for certification at the advanced level in accordance with the guidelines of the bishops of the California Catholic Conference.  AMS is comprised of three distinct phases that take place over a minimum of a three-year period.

1.  ​Theological Phase

The theological phase involves the study of scripture and the essentials of Catholic doctrine as a common basis for all those preparing for catechetical and other ministerial leadership.

2. Catechetical Phase

The catechetical phase involves the study of catechesis, locating it within the context of evangelization, and helps to develop necessary skills for catechetical and other ministerial leadership.

​3. Practicum Phase

The practicum phase involves a supervised practicum related to a ministerial area.

In fulfillment of the guidelines established by the bishops of the California Catholic Conference, the themes covered in AMS​ include but are not limited to:

  • Theological Reflection
  • Images of God
  • Revelation
  • Christology
  • Ecclesiology
  • Sacraments
  • Morality
  • Social Mission of the Church
  • Spirituality of the Catechetical Leader
  • Catechesis and Evangelization
  • Faith Development
  • Liturgy
  • Christian Initiation and Catechumenate as Model for Catechesis
  • Formation Teams and Leadership
  • Adult Formation
  • Media and Catechesis
  • Safe Environment
  • Foundational Skills for the Master Catechist

Those preparing for leadership in ministry are expected to have a degree of competency that permits them to engage in formation at the advanced level. This competency is characterized by:

  • Study at the post-secondary level
  • Ability to communicate effectively with adults ​
  • A basic catechist certification or the equivalent
  • A record of involvement in ​ministry in a Catholic elementary school, high school, and/or parish
  • Experience in catechetical formation, and/or liturgical ministry
  • ​Sensitivity to the cultural diversity of the people in the archdiocese

In addition to these basic competencies, admission into the program of Advanced Ministry Studies for those who minister in Adult Faith Formation, or are Parish Catechetical Leaders, Confirmation Coordinators, Youth Ministry Coordinators, Catholic High School Relig​ion Teachers/Campus Ministers​, or Master Catechists has additional requirements; more information on those requirements can be obtained from the Office of Religious Education.

Approval for Advanced Certification

Certification as an advanced-level catechist requires documentation of the successful completion of the program of formation and the final approval of the staff of the Office of Religi​ous Education​ ​and Department of Catholic Schools​. ​