By Way of Introduction–The Marian Catechist Apostolate

This introduction will be done in “interview” fashion, by question and answer.  Since I am not that great at formatting, I will have to type out the questions and answers on the same line.  Sorry.  I will bold the “Q” and “A” that way it’s easier to read.

Q:  Who are. you and what is this blog?  A:  My name is Winnie Spencer and I am the owner of this blog.  I had used it as an online journal before but didn’t make much progress with it, and so it was left dormant and unused for a couple of years.  Well, now I have joined the Marian Catechist Apostolate and would like now to use it as a catechetical tool, so I have plans and reason to post again.

Q:  What is an “Apostolate”?  A:  According to the “Modern Catholic Dictionary” by Father John Anthony Hardon (now recognized a “Servant to of God” by the Roman Catholic Church), an apostolate is defined as “The work of an apostle, not only of the first followers of Christ but of all the faithful who carry on the original mission entrusted by the Savior to the twelve to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).  The apostolate belongs essentially to the order of grace.  Its purpose is not temporal welfare, however noble, but to bring people to the knowledge and love of Christ and, through obedience to his teaching, help them attain life everlasting.”   Another definition, according to A Catechetical Dictionary for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is the following:  “Apostolate is derived from the word ‘apostle,’ meaning emissary or missionary. It refers to work accomplished on behalf of the Lord, by the non-ordained or lay members of the Church.  This term is properly used in referring to ecclesial work done by laypersons.  Ministry is properly used in reference to clerical duties of ordained ministry.  The term ‘extraordinary minister of Holy Communion’ can be justified in reference to laity only because they perform a duty ordinarily reserved to the clergy.  Protestants use the term ministry for nearly anything related to church activity.  Since they lack a sacramental clergy, the term does not create for them any confusion of doctrinal belief or hierarchical rank.”  (Italics in the original and signify words included in the dictionary which are defined.)

Q:  So basically, an apostolate is  like a ministry in the Church?  A:  Yes, put in simplisitic terms, you could say that.

Q:  So what, then, is the Marian Catechist Apostolate?  A:  The Marian Catechist Apostolate is a ministry in the Roman Catholic Church that is dedicated to training catechists (lay teachers of the faith), modeled after Mary the Mother of God, and entrusted with the task of evangelizing the whole world, as Pope St. John Paul II called for, as the “New Evangelization,” and in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.  The apostolate was started by (now) Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, S.J., and is now under the direction of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.  The Marian Catechist Apostolate consists of Members, Members-in-formation, and Associates.  The Apostolate calls for the education of lay people in three courses in the Catholic Faith:  a Basic Course, and Advanced Course, and the Commentary on the General Directory for Catechesis (CGDC).  There is also another course highly recommended called “Masters of the Spiritual Life.”  After finishing these courses and the Commentary, members in formation make a 30 day retreat at home, then make their Solemn Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a public consecration, promising to live exemplary lives of holiness and continued study and formation, and to engage in some sort of catechetical or apostolic activity.  This could be teaching in RCIA or RCIC programs, educational classes in your local parish, or using the Internet to catechize.  That is the purpose of this blog, to catechize and share the god news of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church.  For those who are homebound, one can be a Contemplative Member of the MCA, who offers their prayers, sacrifices and sufferings for the good of the MCA.  And finally, for those who are called to the Apostolate but are unable or unwilling to commit to formation or engage in the spiritual practices (which can be seen a challenging at first), one can be an Associate Member, who supports with prayers, financial support to the degree possible, or any such practical support as needed.

Q:  What are the spiritual practices required?  A:  The spiritual practices are as follows:

  • Daily Mass and Holy Communion
  • Daily Rosary
  • Daily Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Daily Memorare for International Director Cardinal Burke
  • Daily Angelus
  • Daily spiritual reading, 15 minutes a day
  • Daily meditation, 15 minutes a day (Meditation on Sacred Scripture using Lectio Divina is recommended.)
  • Daily Examination of Conscience & Act of Contrition, 5 min
  • Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation, every 2 weeks

Q:  You mentioned a 30 day retreat.  What does that consist of?  A:  According to one of the MCA’s brochures, “Prior to making one’s Consecration as a Marian Catechist, each candidate is required to make a Thirty Day Ignatian Retreat, also called the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  The retreat is made at one’s home and is coordinated through the International Office of the Apostolate.  The retreat is designed to build within the retreatant a strong and lasting friendship with God, and to ‘remove our sinful addictions…to dispose us to want to learn what God expects of us, discover His will, and then determine to put it into practice’ (Retreat with the Lord, p.vii). The concentrated and intense routine of prayer required during the Spiritual Exercises is both an introduction to and an application of the deep prayer life practiced by the Consecrated Marian Catechists.  Making the retreat at home enables the retreatants to fulfill their work and vocational obligations.”  Since I haven’t actually been on the retreat and have only just started the Basic Course, I do not know much about this retreat.  For more information, one could call the International Office for the Marian Catechists.  Their contact information will be listed below.

Q:  That seems like a lot of prayer and daily requirements.  How does one manage such requirements?  A:  One must be serious about becoming a Marian Catechist.  This isn’t something one goes into all willy-nilly, without prayer to Our Lord to make sure this is where He wants us to be.  If indeed He is calling us to join this Apostolate, and/or if one wants to join and there are no reasons why s/he shouldn’t, then one should be aware of the requirements and be prepared to practice them.  As one starts out, the Member in formation is not expected or required to take these up all at once, but to begin to integrate them slowly, as able and needed, into one’s life.  If one is serious about this Apostolate, God and Our Lady will give us the graces necessary to fulfill these spiritual requirements.

Q:  You mentioned course-work as part of formation.  How long do these courses take?  A:  The coursework is home study/correspondence, so its work at your own pace.  There are 16 lessons in the Basic Course, and 36 in the Advanced Course.  Formation is at least a year, and usually two, or sometimes more.

Q: Is there anything more you want to say about the Apostolate and your Membership in it?  A:  I would like to say how pleased I am to be a part of this Apostolate.  I used to be a Catechist in my 30s for grade-school children, when my daughter was young, but she moved on and I didn’t continue.  I enjoyed it very much!  I am glad to get solid education for this role as Catechist, and I think the formation is extremely thorough for this being a lay apostolate.  I hope to use my knowledge and skills through this website, as a means of catechetizing the general public.  I look forward to learning and teaching more as time goes on.

Okay, I think that is a good introduction to the Marian Catechist Apostolate.   For more information on the Apostolate please see their website at:  Marian Catechist