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Both the mentor-apprentice relationship and direct parish experience, as well as formal ministerial training, serve to prepare apprentices for their catechetical ministry within the Echo Program and beyond.
A mentor is a parish catechetical leader who is certified at the host diocese’s highest level of catechetical leader certification, has three or more years of service in parish catechetical leadership, and has been approved to serve as a mentor by the host diocese. Both diocesan partners and Echo staff members collaborate in carefully matching each apprentice to a mentor for this invaluable two-year relationship. As one who assists an apprentice in on-site ministerial formation, the mentor helps apprentices to navigate and process their experiences of service and leadership in various parish ministries.
In addition to this on-site mentoring relationship, both the partner dioceses and the Echo staff afford apprentices a number of opportunities for professional and ministerial development throughout each year. Partner dioceses assist in making both regional and national professional development opportunities accessible to apprentices. Echo staff and faculty, assisted by other Notre Dame faculty members, offer both courses and workshops in pastoral ministry, helping apprentices integrate theology and ministry, engage in theological reflection, foster their own developing ministerial identity, and develop practical skills essential for contemporary catechetical leadership.
Apprentices are also frequently invited to participate in diocesan and even national-level ministerial experiences that further contribute to their formation. In addition, many apprentices attend diocesan and national conferences dedicated to pastoral and catechetical praxis. For example, many Echo apprentices receive scholarships to attend the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership every year. On occasion, apprentices have even assumed leadership roles as co-presenters at such conferences.