Partner FAQs

The Echo Program is most grateful for its diocesan partnerships, the participation of parish and school mentors, and the support of parish pastors and school principals in this program. The following questions are typical of those asked by diocesan partners and potential mentors.

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Diocesan FAQs

When are new apprentices and theology teachers told the name of the diocese where they will serve?

This information is ordinarily shared with new apprentices and theology teachers in mid April.

When does a new apprentice or theology teacher learn about his or her ministry location (i.e., parish or school assignment), including the name and contact information of the Echo mentor?

Parish and school assignments are made jointly by the Echo staff at Notre Dame in consultation with the diocesan leader. The announcement of parish and school assignments, including the name of the mentor paired with each apprentice or theology teacher, is made during an on-campus Echo program orientation event in mid-June.

How does a diocesan leader contact the apprentices or theology teachers who are assigned to serve in the diocese?

Diocesan leaders receive information about the new apprentices or theology teachers, including phone numbers and email addresses, in April or May. Diocesan leaders ordinarily send an email message or call the apprentices or theology teachers soon after they are assigned to the diocese.

Apprentices and theology teachers also appreciate a letter of welcome and pertinent diocesan information from the diocesan leader and/or from the Bishop. This correspondence should be sent to the apprentices and theology teachers by name in care of the Echo Program (330 Geddes Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556) and should arrive at Notre Dame by June 1; they will be given to the new apprentices and theology teachers during a program orientation event in mid-June.

What is Mentor Weekend and when is it held?

Mentor Formation Weekend is an annual event held at Notre Dame for diocesan directors and mentors. Mentor weekend usually takes place the first or second weekend in July. During this required event, new mentors meet and work with apprentices and theology teachers, and they receive from and review with our staff the Guide to the Mentor-Apprentice Relationship or the Guide to the Mentor-Theology Teacher Relationship, respectively.

During this important weekend, new mentors develop a professional relationship with their assigned apprentices and theology teachers and discuss goals for the upcoming year.

Where do apprentices and theology teachers live?

Partner dioceses are asked to secure an adequate and safe residence centrally located (i.e., no more than 20-30 minutes driving time) to the various parishes or schools where Echo apprentices and theology teachers serve, and to provide such residence at no cost to the apprentices and theology teachers. Partner dioceses are asked to provide the address of the Echo residence to the Echo Program at Notre Dame by June 1. Program history demonstrates that students’ family members sometimes ask precise questions about the residential facility.

Is the Echo residence furnished or unfurnished?

The diocesan Echo residence is a furnished residential facility that should include standard furnishings; e.g., bed for each apprentice/theology teacher, dresser, desk and chair, lamps; furniture for gathering space (e.g., sofa, chairs, lamps); basic kitchen utensils, etc. Dioceses often benefit from several parishes or schools working to secure furniture and prepare the residence. Basic residential utilities also need to include routine property maintenance.

What utilities and technology needs are there for an Echo residence?

Basic utilities (e.g., electric, gas, water, etc.) at the Echo residence need to include high-speed internet access and local phone service. It is important for these services to be in place in the residence before the apprentices or theology teachers arrive. Apprentices and theology teachers begin their first Notre Dame on-line graduate course through the Department of Theology soon after they begin their parish/school service.

How far should the residence be from the partner parishes or schools in a diocese?

Apprentices and theology teachers are told by Echo Staff to anticipate reasonable driving time to their parishes or schools from the residence (i.e., no more than 20-30 minutes). Reasonable driving time provides for more opportunities for apprentices and theology teachers to fulfill their commitment to spending quality time with their intentional faith community.

When do the apprentices and theology teachers move into their residence?

Echo apprentices move into the local residence in mid- to late-August.

Echo theology teachers move into the local residence in early- to mid-August.

Does Notre Dame conduct background checks on new apprentices and theology teachers?

The University conducts criminal background checks on new apprentices and theology teachers. However, this is not a substitute for whatever must be done to conform to local arch/diocesan policies and procedures.

What is an apprentice or theology teacher paid and how often are they paid?

At this time, the current stipend amount is $12,000 (gross) per year for each of the two years. Since new apprentices and theology teachers leave Notre Dame without a first paycheck awaiting them and do not begin their service until later in August, we respectfully request that they be given their first pay upon arrival and then enter into the normal payroll cycle.

Apprentices and theology teachers are paid over a 12-month period, from the beginning of August to the end of July. It is expected that parishes and schools will have the apprentices and theology teachers on their usual payroll cycles.

What other fees are there for Echo program participation?

Parish Apprentices

If requested by the University, diocesan partners are asked to provide medical insurance or contribute to Echo program administrative costs that include a third-party group medical insurance plan, as specified by the University, for the Echo program.

The Institute for Church Life covers this administrative cost for the months of June and July of the first year of the two-year diocesan commitment (i.e., Echo 10). Monthly billings begin in July for August and afterwards.

The current amount is $250.00 per month multiplied by the number of apprentices serving in a diocese (payable to the “Institute for Church Life”). Please let us know who should receive the billing notices; we prefer centralized billing to a diocesan office if possible.

Dioceses that are completing the second year of the two-year program commitment are responsible for these billings through May of the second year.


Theology Teachers

Having an Echo theology teacher costs the school 90% of a first-year teacher’s salary, based on the scale for that year.

Health insurance for Echo theology teachers is provided by the school. Required employee contributions for single coverage are added to the Echo theology teachers’ basic stipend. Note: If eligible Echo theology teachers under the age of 26 choose to remain on their parents’ insurance during the program, there will be no cost of health insurance to the school. If, however, the teacher’s parents lose their insurance during the program, the school will begin coverage for the teacher.

Payment for the first school year begins mid-August & ends late July. (Participants do not earn income during summers on-campus and benefit from receiving their first payment upon arrival in August to offset moving costs.) Payment for the second school year begins in August & ends late July.

The middle or high school contributes to the diocese to cover the costs of housing and utilities for the Echo theology teachers. Costs vary depending on the number of Echo theology teachers living and serving in the diocese (typically three or four) and the cost of housing and utilities. Dioceses secure housing within reasonable commuting distance from partner schools, oversee maintenance, and determine the schools’ amount and time of payment toward housing and utility costs.

The balance goes to the Echo program at the University of Notre Dame to offset administrative costs. Invoices will be sent by the program the first of October and the first of February.

Sample Annual Cost Breakdown for Partner School

Sample first-year teacher’s salary

Total cost to school:
$30,000 x .90 = $27,000

The cost to the school includes:
$12,000, annual Echo theology teacher stipend
$1,000, estimated annual cost of health insurance (added to stipend amount sent to theology teacher)
$4,000, approximate annual housing & utilities contribution sent from each school to diocese
$10,000, remaining amount to be remitted to the Echo program


Mentor FAQs

When do new mentors find out about apprentice/theology teacher assignments to the various parishes and schools?

Diocesan leaders inform mentors of the parish and school assignments in late May or early June. However, this is not the time for the mentors to contact the apprentices or theology teachers. Such communication can commence after the Echo apprentices and theology teachers are informed as a group of their assignments in mid-June.

When does an apprentice or theology teacher learn about his or her parish or school assignment? How might a mentor initiate communication with the new apprentice or theology teacher?

Apprentices and theology teachers will learn the name of their mentor and the parish or school where they will serve during an orientation event on campus in mid-June. Each mentor is asked to send a letter of welcome and a parish bulletin or school information to the apprentice/theology teacher in care of the Echo Program, 330 Geddes Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 by June 1. This allows us to gather all of the information for all new apprentices and theology teachers in time for distribution during orientation. Greetings and messages from pastors and principals are also very welcome.

When can a mentor give other items of interest to the new apprentice or theology teacher?

Items such as yearbooks, T-shirts, etc. should be given to the apprentice or theology teacher during Mentor Formation Weekend. Additional items or information received at Notre Dame before Mentor Weekend will be delivered during Mentor Weekend in July and not during program orientation in June.

What work space is needed by the parish apprentice?

Parishes are asked to provide a private or dedicated work space with a desk, working computer (with internet access), and telephone connection. Program experience has shown this to be the most effective way of supporting and enriching the apprentice’s ministerial experience.

What will the parish apprentice’s ministerial responsibilities be?

Mentors are eager to share with new apprentices the diversity of parish catechetical ministries/programs. This is helpful information. However, it is important to delay identifying specific year-long work responsibilities during initial communications.

The topic of identifying ministerial responsibilities is treated in depth during Mentor Formation Weekend. One essential dimension of the mentor’s responsibility is that of enabling the apprentice to serve various aspects of the parish’s catechetical programming, including those aspects for which other parish staff members may be responsible. As a result of the mentor’s collaborative efforts with other parish staff members, the apprentice, over time, participates in diverse opportunities for serving catechesis in the parish. The mentor’s role in this regard is often referred to as that of a “broker” or “clearinghouse” on behalf of the apprentice.

How quickly can a parish apprentice become involved in the parish’s catechetical work?

Echo realizes that, by necessity, parish catechetical planning precedes the apprentice’s arrival in the parish. For this reason the mentor, along with parish staff members, should begin thinking about a small initial project for the apprentice to engage in upon arrival, with the goal of getting to know the parish community and offering help in a concrete and immediate way. Then, a “learning covenant” for ministry throughout the year will be developed with the input, direction, and assistance of the mentor during the apprentice’s first month in the parish. The initial project and learning covenant will be discussed in depth during Mentor Weekend. The Learning Covenant may reference or be derived in part from a diocese’s parish catechetical leader agreement currently in use, if one exists.

How might mentors support the apprentices’ or theology teachers' intentional faith community?

Mentors (as a group within a diocese) are required to choose a common evening between Monday and Thursday, for apprentices or theology teachers to be together for their ongoing formation as an Echo faith community. This may mean one or more apprentice or theology teacher needs to be excused from participating in a particular ministry or co-curricular activity if it conflicts with the mutually designated evening. This type of arrangement can be discussed during Mentor Weekend.

How does a mentor help prepare the parish/school staff and community for the apprentice's or theology teacher's arrival?

Mentors are asked to educate the parish or school staff about the Echo program and the apprentice/theology teacher before the apprentice/theology teacher arrives in August. Echo provides a helpful Letter to the Parish Staff, found under documents in Inside Echo, for mentors to share with their colleagues. Parishes often announce the arrival of the apprentice in their bulletin and mentors and/or pastors typically introduce the apprentice at each Sunday Mass during their first or second weekend at the parish.