Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass for Newly Certified High School Religion Teachers in the Archdiocese of Washington

Central to the Mission Religion Teachers is Christ’s Proclamation, “You will be my witnesses.”

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington celebrated Mass at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center today to honor the thirteen high school teachers who received their religion certifications in the archdiocese.

High school religion teachers in the Archdiocese of Washington hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in theology or a related subject. They are expected to receive their certification during their first year of teaching in an archdiocesan or independent Catholic high school. This year, thirteen teachers have completed this rigorous certification process, which includes a review of transcripts, classroom observation, a sample lesson plan corresponding to the high school religion curriculum framework set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and an interview with the archdiocese’s Office for Catechesis. In the interview process, the teachers were asked to articulate how they are working as agents for the New Evangelization both inside and out of their classrooms. Cardinal Wuerl in his decade as archbishop of Washington has made the New Evangelization the key theme. A crucial part of the New Evangelization is having disciples who strive to live out in everyday life the Gospel message, despite the challenges of today’s culture.

In his pastoral letter on Catholic identity, Being Catholic Today, Cardinal  Wuerl encourages all Catholics to boldly live out their Catholic identity as Christ’s evangelizing disciples. He also emphasizes the importance of the institutions of the Church – its parishes, schools, universities, charitable organizations, health care facilities, etc., to reflect a genuine Catholic identity with visible communion with the Church, both universal and local, and fidelity to Catholic teaching.

In his homily at the Mass with the newly-certified high school religion teachers, Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the timing of the awarding of the certification. Appropriately being given during the Easter season, the cardinal said, it emphasizes the importance of teachers’ roles in the Catholic Church as they pass on the Good News and keep students engaged in religious education. “How appropriate that the reading today would be from Saint John’s Gospel where Jesus is instructing his disciples that they are to be his messengers not just reporting what he says but doing what he does,” the cardinal said, referencing the Gospel reading for the day.

Cardinal Wuerl commended the teachers’ commitment to engage deeply in the faith and pass it on. Certification indicates that you have prepared yourself to undertake this task, he said. The cardinal concluded his homily expressing profound gratitude for all who take part in the Church’s catechetical effort. “Today then, we renew our own commitment on this catechetical day of celebration, to tell the story of God’s love, Jesus’ Resurrection and our encounter with him.  Today, we also recognize the steps you have taken to see that you are as well-prepared as can be to carry on that Spirit driven work,” he said. “May God bless you and may God continue to bless this Church that benefits so much from your service.”