Christian Doctrine for Catechists III

Course Description

“Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim.”

- Benedict XVI, God Is Love

This course intends to provide a synthetic overview of Christian doctrine along with practice on how to communicate it to others. Doctrines give us the ability to communicate the mysteries of our faith, so that we can always deepen our search for faith, love, meaning, and truth. Our guide in this journey of theological reflection is Dr. John Cavadini – Dr. Cavadini suggests that a subtitle for the course could be “An Apologetics of Love.” We start with knowing doctrine, we seek to better understand it, and we in turn are better able to evangelize and catechize others. This is a lifelong journey intended to draw us closer to God, who is love.

The courses in this series intend to serve catechists and religious educators, but can benefit anyone desiring a synthetic overview of Christian doctrine with an emphasis on how to communicate it to others. The three courses in this series cover the material presented in the first two pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Creed and Sacraments. The courses in this series can be taken in any order.

The primary material for the course consists of (1) video lectures and (2) readings from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The video lectures in the course are recordings from live classroom sessions taught by Dr. John Cavadini. As such, these video recordings differ from video in most other STEP courses in that they are not scripted lectures prepared exclusively for a STEP course. Rather, by viewing the video of the actual classroom session, you can experience a sense of being invited into the live classroom, and to share in the more communal dialogue present there.

Course Content

Unit 1

  1. The Church (CCC #748-801)

Unit 2

  1. The Four Marks of the Church (CCC #811-865)

Unit 3

  1. Mary

Unit 4

  1. Sacraments I

Unit 5

  1. Sacraments II

Unit 6

  1. Sacraments III

Course Format

  • Seven weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All material provided online.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator-moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church – participants may use their own copy or read from the online version provided in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • View pre-recorded classroom sessions, approximately 75-90 minutes per unit. *
  • Read from the CCC and other short supplemental materials.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 2-3 paragraphs in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 4 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

* Please note: Portions of the classroom presentation video by Dr. Cavadini will be assigned during each unit. There is no transcript, so any assigned viewing of the classroom lecture must be done via streaming video while connected to the Internet. The video is available any time during the course; there is no specific time you need to be online to view the video.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours a week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 35 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Dr. John Cavadini

Dr. John Cavadini

Dr. Cavadini is a scholar of patristic and early medieval theology, with special interests in the theology of Augustine and in the history of biblical exegesis, both Eastern and Western, as well as in the reception and interpretation of patristic thought in the West from the sixth through the ninth centuries. His publications include three books, Miracles in Christian and Jewish Antiquity: Imagining the Truth, (University of Notre Dame Press, 1999); Gregory the Great: A Symposium, (University of Notre Dame Press, 1996); and The Last Christology of the West: Adoptionism in Spain and Gaul, 785-820, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993). His articles have appeared in such journals as Theological StudiesReligious Studies Review,TraditioAugustinian Studies, and American Benedictine Review.

In November, 2009, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to a five-year term on the International Theological Commission and was also created a member of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, classis civilis, by Pope Benedict. He has served as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine since 2006.

B.A., 1975, Wesleyan University; M.A., 1979, Marquette University; M.A., 1981, M.Phil., 1983 and Ph.D., 1988, Yale University