Catechist Track

Preparation for the Catechetical Mission: This is a comprehensive program offering the methodological, philosophical, and doctrinal topics essential to the teaching of the Faith. Believing that the most significant factor in the catechetical endeavor is the individual catechist passing on the witness of a faith lived out, Franciscan University has committed itself to assisting in the preparation of men and women equal to the task of catechesis. While presenting a systematic doctrinal foundation coming directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this track also includes proven, effective methodologies.

2018 Catechist Track Workshops:

Year 1:

Scripture, the Heart of Catechesis

Prayer: Introduction to the Spiritual Life of the Catechist

The Philosophical Foundations of Catechetics

Jesus: The Christocentricity of Catechesis

The Deposit of Faith: An Introduction to the Catechism

The Church Prays What She Believes: Liturgy in Catechesis

The Ecclesial Method: Opening Souls to the Beauty and Power of God’s Revelation

Year 2:

Being Guided and Guiding Souls

The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes

Introduction to the Old Testament

Introduction to the New Testament

Reality: Epistemology for Catechists

Liturgy and Catechetical Methodology

The Family: Context of Catechesis

Track Presenters

Mary Jo Smith, Track Coordinator, received a master of theological studies from the University of Dallas Institute of Religious and Pastoral Studies. As a member of the faculty of the St. John Bosco Conference, she coordinates the catechists’ certification track. Mary Jo is also a marketing representative for Ignatius Press. She co-authored the pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade curricula of the Image of God textbook series and was general editor of the series. For many years, she hosted a national cable TV series for children on EWTN. For 25 years, Mary Jo was director of the pre-school/kindergarten religious education program for St. Raphael Parish in Crystal, Minnesota. Currently, she is the RCIA coordinator for that parish.


Dr. John Bergsma is a professor of theology at Franciscan University and served as a Protestant pastor for four years before entering the Catholic Church in 2001. Dr. Bergsma holds a PhD in theology from the University of Notre Dame, where he specialized in the Old Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He speaks regularly on Catholic radio and at conferences and parishes nationwide. He and his wife, Dawn, reside with their eight children in Steubenville. The author of several books, his latest is Stunned by Scripture: How the Bible Made Me Catholic from Our Sunday Visitor.


Ron Bolster is the former director of the Office of Catechetics at Franciscan University. He served the Diocese of Peoria before joining the catechetics faculty at Franciscan in 2004. He holds an MA in theology with catechetical certification from Franciscan and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University. He serves on the confirmation team for the parishes of the City of Steubenville and has experience in RCIA, the Neocatechumenal Way, and catechist training. He is co-author of Ascension Press’ Chosen: Your Journey to Confirmation program. Ron and his wife, Andrea, reside with their eight children in Steubenville.


Marc Cardaronella is director of the Office of Discipleship and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. He graduated from Franciscan University with a master’s degree in theology and catechetics and served for 12 years as a parish director of religious education. Marc is the author of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick from Ave Maria Press. His articles have appeared in CATECHIST, The Catechetical Review, and numerous websites including Amazing Catechist,, The Big Pulpit, and National Catholic Register. Marc writes about evangelization, catechesis, and faith-parenting on his personal blog,


Bill Keimig is the assistant director of the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University. For 15 years, he served as DRE at St. Mary’s of Piscataway in Clinton, Maryland, and served for nine years as director of the Association for Catechumenal Ministry (ACM). He has served as a speaker in many settings in over 30 dioceses. Bill holds master’s degrees in public management from the University of Maryland and in theology from Franciscan University and is completing a doctorate at The Catholic University of America. He and his wife, Heather, have six children, Rose, William, Julianna, Theodore, Elizabeth, and Gregory.


Father Jay Mello is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, and was ordained in 2007. He completed his undergraduate studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2003. He also attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he completed his STB and earned his STL in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Father Jay currently serves as pastor of St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s parishes in Fall River. He previously served in a number of parishes as parochial vicar, as a high school chaplain, and in the diocesan vocation office.


Sister M. Johanna Paruch, FSGM, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, holds a BA in theology and elementary education from St. Louis University, a pontifical catechetical diploma, an MA in religious education from the Angelicum, and a PhD in theology from Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England. Sister Johanna has been involved in religious education for over 25 years. She currently serves as an associate professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, specializing in catechetics. Her first publication, Mentors in the New Evangelization: Catechetical Saints of North America, became available in 2013.


Dr. James Pauley, S.T.L., S.T.D. (cand.), is a professor of theology and catechetics at Franciscan University. He has just published his first book, Liturgical Catechesis in the 21st Century: A School of Discipleship (LTP Press). In 2014, Dr. Pauley was appointed founding editor of The Catechetical Review, Franciscan University’s journal dedicated to the new evangelization. Dr. Pauley began working as a parish catechetical leader in 1989 and has served professionally in parish, diocesan, and university catechetical formation for 28 years. He is a frequent speaker in dioceses and parishes nationwide. James is married to Katrina, and they are blessed with three daughters.


Scott Sollom is an assistant professor of theology at Franciscan University. He has conducted RCIA training workshops around the country and the world, including presentations with the Association for Catechumenal Ministry and Symbolon. He previously served as a DRE in Stillwater, Minnesota, and College Station, Texas, as well as a youth minister in Hudson, Wisconsin. Scott and his wife, Mary, have five children. He will be presenting at the St. John Bosco Conference.


Dr. Petroc Willey is a professor of theology (catechetics) at Franciscan University. Before coming to Franciscan, he worked in Catholic higher education in Oxford and Birmingham for about 30 years. Dr. Willey gained his first degree in theology from King’s College London and an STL from Maynooth, Ireland. He also has doctorates in philosophy from Liverpool University and the Lateran Pontifical University. A well-known speaker on catechetics and evangelization, Dr. Willey edited the catechetical journal The Sower from 1992-2013 and hosted the EWTN series Handing on the Faith. He is married to Katherine and has four children.