The Catechist, Witness of the New Life in Christ

St. Bernard School principal, Crystal Blahnik, recently embarked on a three day trip to Vatican City. She reflects on the trip in her own words below:

In 2013 the First International Congress on Catechesis met in Vatican City. The intention of the first congress was to set a course for an intensive, international focus catechesis by way of the Catechism. The Catechism is broken into four distinguishable parts, each of which becomes the foundational point of discussion at each of the four International Congress meetings. The order of meetings has been laid out like this:

  • 2013 – First International Congress on Catechesis: Knowing and Loving God
  • 2018 – Second International Congress on Catechesis: Witness to the Mystery; Sacramental Life
  • 2022 – Third International Congress on Catechesis: Life in Christ; Living the Word
  • 2028 – Fourth International Congress on Catechesis: Prayer

A small group of us had the opportunity of a lifetime this September when we were invited to represent the Diocese of Green Bay at the Third International Congress in Rome. This three day gathering was held at Paul VI Hall in Vatican City. Roughly 1,000 people attended the three day experience and participants traveled, in true pilgrim fashion, from all corners of the globe. 

With the main emphasis of the conference being Life in Christ, and Living the Word, which comes directly from the third section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the conference was entirely relatable and accessible to everyone in attendance, regardless of their specific title or vocation. The other foundational document that this congress series is based on is the Apostolic Letter Issued “Motu Proprio” by the Supreme Pontiff, Francis, Antiquum Ministerium instituting the Ministry of Catechist. 

Speakers on all three days were from around the world and presented in their native language while participants listened in on headsets with home-language translations. While all presentations were noteworthy, one that stands out is the talk given by H.E. Most Rev. Mark O’Toole, Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia (Wales). Three important points that the Archbishop made were focused on Vision, Discernment and Formation. 


The Archbishop referred to Corinthians 12:1 when speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit.  “Vocation is initiated in the heart of God. And it is for the person to respond.” He stated that it is through living and a personal encounter with the Lord that we are propelled as Missionary Disciples. 


Archbishop O’Toole noted that as we discern who is called to be a catechist we need to remember that “catechist” can mean something different in different circumstances, and that when it comes to catechising, this can come in as many forms as the gifts that we each possess. Either way, it is important to “set the bar high” in our expectations for quality catechetical teachers and experiences. 


It is imperative for each regional conference of bishops to determine the formation expectations for their catechists. Archbishop O’Toole asks us to reflect on our personal encounter with the Lord, and to remember that the work of Catechesis is hard work because we are going against the mainstream current. However, Christ desires us personally and it is time for us to put our faith in action. 

In addition to the words of Archbishop O’Toole, there was a steady echo from almost all of the speakers on the Kerygma. The Kerygma is considered the initial proclamation of the Gospel. We must first know and believe the kerygmatic message before we are able to share that message, teach or catechize others. Beyond this, there are many ways to share the kerygma. 

Three pastoral presentations were shared from across the globe to demonstrate the variety of ways that the kerygma is being shared through catechesis. 

Sr. Carolina Blazquez Casado, OSA came from Palencia, Spain to share her order’s involvement in The Way of St. James and the Conversion Journey. People from around the world know of this pilgrimage and our own Fr. Bill Hoffman completed The Way in 2021. Martin Sheen made a movie of the pilgrimage in 2010, which is also worth watching. 

H.E. Most Rev. Jean-Bertin Nadonye Ndongo, OFMCap, Bishop of Lolo (Democratic Republic of Congo) came with several priests and sisters to share the innovative way that the Mobokoli Center has structured the formation of catechists couples for the proclamation of the faith and promotion of human development in light of the vast distances between villages, poor road conditions and the need for laity to support their community’s catechetical needs and activities. The commitment to this project and the fruits that have come from it demonstrate the way catechesis can be tailored for the local needs of the people. 

Finally, Juliane Stanz, represented a new social media project entitled Real + True along with her colleagues on the project, Emily Mentock and Edmundo Reyes. Real+True seeks to bring the kerygma, via the Catechism, to people worldwide through this social media effort. On this site you will be connected with timely articles and issues facing modern day Christians. The structure of the site follows the four parts of the Catholic Catechism, thus supporting the structure of the International Congress on Catechesis.

Throughout the three day experience, as a participant in this international congregation, I felt right at home hearing terms that have been frequently used throughout the last decade right here in our Diocese. Our Bishop Ricken has been a passionate shepherd, leading us in the way of the kerygma, the new evangelization, and personal encounter with Christ our Lord. The bottom line is that here in Green Bay we are on the front edge of bringing the message of the International Congress on Catechesis to the people of our Diocese. With increased enrollment in our Catholic schools, a commitment to programs that innovatively catechize people of all ages, and a Bishop who communicates and supports his vision, we have more people paddling in the same direction, which ultimately means more of us know the kerygma and are willing to share its good news.


Molina, H. (2020, September 15). Alpha & Kerygma. Catholic Answers. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from 

1 corinthians, Chapter 12. USCCB. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from 

Made with FlippingBook. (n.d.). Catechism of the Catholic Church. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from 

The Catechist, Witness of the New Life in Christ Third International Congress on Catechesis Sept. 8-10, 2022. (n.d.). Vatican City. 

2022 GRACE Annual Appeal

GRACE asks that you prayerfully consider giving to the 2022 Annual Appeal. Your tax-deductible gift will immediately support students with tuition assistance, rigorous academic programming, and new technology resources.

No gift is too small or too great, as every gift makes a difference. Find more information as well as how to donate on the Donate Now tab on our site:

Thank you for your support of Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE)

GRACE Announces the Adoption of Project Lead the Way

GRACE Announces the Adoption of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch, A Cutting-Edge K-5 STEM Program:

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) enhances our rich educational experience through interactive, hands-on experiences. Our faith-filled teachers will lead the instruction while ensuring that our Catholic values and Catholic Social Teaching concepts are expertly woven throughout the content. Through PLTW Launch (K-5), students will become collaborative problem solvers and creative thinkers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, to employ critical thinking skills to solve scientific issues that relate directly to real life experiences. They will apply STEM knowledge and learn that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes.

Our Catholic worldview will be threaded through each lesson and hands-on experience. This program will allow students to develop a strong foundation in math and science, and make connections between their classroom and future careers. PLTW Launch taps into students’ exploratory nature, engages them in learning that feels like play, and encourages them to keep discovering – now and forever.
Each semester, GRACE families receive their student’s individual NWEA MAP Student Progress Report accompanied by an explanatory summary letter.

Impact of Project Lead the Way: A Recent study shows PLTW students outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies, and are more likely to consider STEM careers compared to their non-PLTW peers. Students find PLTW programs relevant, inspiring, engaging, and foundational to their future success.

Turning Curiosity into Confidence with PLTW Launch

GRACE middle school is also updating its science curriculum resource to iScience. During the selection process, iScience stood out to our middle school teachers because it enforced the three key discipline areas: Life Science, Physical Science, & Earth and Space Science. In addition, the materials the program provides will prepare students for high school science classes. This includes non-fiction reading skills, hands-on collaboration experiments, academic writing, and more.

MAP Testing in GRACE Schools

Many area schools, including GRACE, use the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to test students’ academic abilities. MAP is a national assessment tool that makes predictions about students’ college readiness as measured by EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT.

MAP tests present students with engaging, age-appropriate content. As a student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty. As a result of NWEA tests, educators can make informed decisions to promote your child’s academic growth.

Each semester, GRACE families receive their student’s individual NWEA MAP Student Progress Report accompanied by an explanatory summary letter.


September 7-28, 2022:
All students are tested during this window.

  • Kindergarten (Math, Reading)
  • Grades 1-8 (Math, Reading, and 2-8 in LA)
  • Science in Grades 4-8

The results are used to help design individualized instruction and predict student needs.


January 4-27, 2023:
Selected students, identified by teachers and supportive consultants, are tested during this window to monitor student growth or check an area of concern.


April 17-May 5, 2023:
All students are tested during this window.

  • Kindergarten (Math, Reading)
  • Grades 1-8 (Math, Reading, and 2-8 in LA)
  • Science in Grades 4-8

May 12, 2023:
GRACE teachers and administrators analyze MAP data and use them for planning and professional improvement.

For questions regarding MAP testing for your student, please contact the classroom teacher, school principal or the GRACE Curriculum Director, Laura Blicharz.

Free and Reduced Meals at GRACE

Children need healthy meals to learn, and GRACE offers healthy meals every school day. Did you know your children may qualify for free or reduced price meals?

Through participation in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National School Lunch Program (NSLP), GRACE is able to offer the free and reduced meal eligibility program, which aids in providing healthy, nutritious, and affordable meals to all students. To find out if your children are eligible, learn more on the GRACE food service webpage. Program materials are available in both English or Spanish online, and paper copies are available in the school office.

If you have any questions, please contact Wendy Gierczak, GRACE Food Service Administrative Assistant via email or by calling (920) 499-7330, ext. 1004.

Los niños necesitan comidas saludables para aprender, y GRACE ofrece comidas saludables todos los días escolares. ¿Sabía que sus hijos pueden calificar para comidas gratuitas o a precio reducido?

A través de la participación en el Programa Nacional de Almuerzos Escolares ( USDA ) del Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos (NSLP), GRACE puede ofrecer el programa de elegibilidad de comidas gratuitas y reducidas, que ayuda a proporcionar comidas saludables, nutritivas y asequibles a todos los estudiantes. Para saber si sus hijos son elegibles, obtenga más información en la página web de servicio de alimentos de GRACE. Los materiales del programa están disponibles en inglés o español en línea, y las copias en papel están disponibles en la oficina de la escuela.

Si tiene alguna pregunta, por favor comuníquese con Wendy Gierczak, Asistente Administrativa del Servicio de Alimentos GRACE por correo electrónico o llamando al (920) 499-7330, extensión 1004.

GRACE’S St. Thomas More Catholic School Named Recipient of Library Grant from The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries

St. Thomas More Catholic School, a part of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) system, was one of 300 schools from 44 states across the country to receive a $5,000 grant through the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. This year, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries awarded $1.5 million in library grants. Many of the libraries, including GRACE St. Thomas More Library will use the funds to update their collections. 

“I am thrilled that children from 300 schools will soon have access to an updated library collection,” Mrs. Laura Bush said. “Students across the country turn to books to discover the world around them, and we know that opening a new book opens the door to new opportunities and learning.”

Dr. Jamie Froh Tyrrell, principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School, said, “We are beyond grateful for such a generous gift, and we look forward to growing our library collection.” Dr. Froh Tyrrell continued, “We hope to fill our library’s shelves with a variety of fictional and informational titles that will spark our children’s curiosity and grow their love of reading and learning. Our collection will be enhanced with high quality literature in both Spanish and English that aligns with our Catholic faith and values, and celebrates our bilingual and bicultural school”. 

Mrs. Bush revealed a summer reading list which includes recommendations for young readers through middle schoolers. GRACE Schools publishes reading and literacy lists and tools to enhance engagement for our students through the summer months to counter the summer slide and ensure students are eager and ready for fall learning. Continuing reading practice over the summer months assists student learning and growth in all subject areas, not just ELA. This is why scheduled and consistent summer reading is one of the best ways to set your child up for success in the upcoming grade level.

“The books on this year’s summer reading list were selected to encourage children to keep reading over their summer break,” said Mrs. Bush. “Local libraries are a wonderful resource for our communities, and I hope children and parents will visit their local library to borrow each of the featured titles.”

One of the 2022 Summer Reading List books was written by Giovanna McBride, the daughter of Mrs. Bush’s former chief of Staff, Anita McBride. Gigi at the White House was published by 

The White House Historical Association and follows a young Giovanna as she tours the White House. Inspired by the Laura Bush Foundation, Anita McBride and her husband Tim McBride 

have donated copies of Gigi at the White House! to every elementary school that has received a grant since 2002.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries supports school libraries with the greatest needs with the goal of encouraging all students to develop a love of reading and learning. Since its inception in 2002, it has awarded more than $19.5 million to more than 3,300 schools across the country.  

The George W. Bush Institute’s Education and Opportunity work, which houses the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, is generously supported by The Allstate Foundation. 

George W. Bush Institute

The George W. Bush Institute is a solution-oriented nonpartisan policy organization rooted in compassionate values and committed to creating positive, meaningful, and lasting change at home and abroad. We utilize our unique platform and convening power to advance solutions to national and global issues of the day by influencing policy, not politics. Learn more at


GRACE stands for Green Bay Area Catholic Education and is a nine-school system that provides excellence in preschool through high school education and serves 23 Catholic parishes within the Greater Green Bay community. GRACE schools range in offerings and locations, and each has its own distinct history, focus and parish connections. GRACE is among the largest Catholic school systems in the state of Wisconsin. To learn more, visit

Green Bay Packers Give Back to GRACE: Gold Summer Camp

The Green Bay Packers Give Back award, previously known as the Community Quarterback Award, has been around since the year 2000 and has been helping communities and volunteer efforts ever since. This award is an amazing way that the Green Bay Packers can recognize and support non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the surrounding Green Bay community. We are thrilled to announce that GRACE: Gold Summer Camp was one of the recipients of the Packers Give Back award for the 2022 camp year!

GRACE and GRACE: Gold Summer Camp are so excited to be partnering with the Green Bay Packers in making 2022’s GRACE: Gold Summer Camp one of the best years yet! In support of the donation, all GRACE: Gold t-shirts will have the Packers Give Back logo on the back of the shirts to show our appreciation and gratitude for the award. The donation will be going towards transportation for off-site summer camp courses and field trips in addition to purchasing course supplies for our cooking, baking, art, and science courses. 

More information about the GRACE: Gold Summer Camp and enrollment details can be found by clicking here.

The Green Bay Packers Give Back award is funded by the Green Bay Packers and the National Football League. 

GRACE Receives Significant Anonymous Donation to “Invest in Teacher Excellence”

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin: Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has announced a generous donation titled “Invest in Teacher Excellence.” The intention of this gift is unprecedented and was made possible through an anonymous benefactor’s strong belief in Catholic education and the professional development of GRACE teachers. 

The “Invest in Teacher Excellence” program will serve GRACE teachers in two capacities, offering a GRACE Educator Master’s Degree Path Program through St. Norbert College and initiating a Top Teacher Talent Award that will recognize exceptional teachers and provide a stipend to support continued teaching success. 

The GRACE Master’s Degree Path Program, developed through a collaboration with St. Norbert College, gives GRACE teachers the opportunity to apply for one of 19 fully-funded scholarships for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at St. Norbert College. The scholarship will cover the cost of tuition, books and fees of the master’s degree. GRACE teachers will apply to the graduate program, and the coursework will be conducted in a cohort model, giving teachers the opportunity to learn together. 

The Top Teacher Talent Award, centered on rewarding and reinforcing exemplary teaching in the GRACE system, will award $1,000 to 20 classroom teachers who demonstrate strong classroom results in the areas of engagement, leadership and instruction through an essay application and portfolio of examples. 

GRACE President Kimberly Desotell said, “We are thrilled to announce this during Teacher Appreciation Week and are completely humbled by the generosity of this benefactor. Their faith in GRACE teachers reinforces our commitment to our educators, giving them the tools needed for continued excellence. This is an innovative and unprecedented opportunity to recognize high-quality teaching and learning in our GRACE schools.” 

“Our mission at St. Norbert College calls us to provide a high-caliber Catholic education for our local and global communities,” said Jennifer Hockenbery, dean of humanities and professor of philosophy at St. Norbert. “That commitment extends beyond our campus to our area K-12 schools. This initiative will help grow Catholic education in our region,” added Hockenbery.  

Eligible GRACE teachers are encouraged to apply by May 23 for these Teacher Excellence Awards through GRACE Human Resources.