Preach the Gospel at all times: 'Capernuam,' a new LMS system, brings catechetical training to new fronts

September 8, 2020

HOUSTON — The Archdiocese is using a new, more efficient and affordable way to manage training — Capernaum.

Built on learning management software (LMS), Capernaum provides on-demand access to register and manage training options.

Laura Rolo, director of instruction and professional development with the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese, said the office worked with other chancery departments in researching the needs of chancery employees, as well as Catholic School principals, faculty and staff members.

Rolo said Capernaum is the first of its kind in history of the Archdiocese, “we have not had a learning management system in the past. That means all our professional development was done in face-to-face, real-time sessions, and that limited our opportunities to provide professional development, and limited the opportunities for participants as well.”

Named after the place where Jesus spent most of his time in public ministry, Rolo said the program is a game-changer, giving the Archdiocese the ability to offer a variety of ways to participate.

“We know we will reach many more people this way,” she said. “We can create sessions that serve a large group, or smaller sessions that meet the needs of specialized groups. Another benefit is having just one database with everyone in it.”

Rolo added that users will have the ability to access and print their own transcripts, which was not possible in the past.

“It will greatly improve the accuracy and efficiency of our Catholic School employee Catechist Certification initiative,” she said.

She said Capernaum administrators in the Archdiocese are implementing a phased-in approach when it comes to inviting users to begin using the system. The goal was to get all teachers and Catholic school administrators active in the system by the end of August.

“All Catholic school employees will use it on a regular basis to earn professional development in curriculum, Catholic faith formation, leadership and a host of other categories,” she said.

The new LMS software can be used to host and track training. The student can take an online training course or download presentations and handouts for an instructor-led course.

Because Capernaum is web-based, it can accessed where Internet is available. Capernaum also provides reports and analytics, giving managers and supervisors the ability to process the data and see what learning is taking place. This, in turn, helps in the design and development of training that ensures that students know.

Rachel Alcocer, director of youth ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Sugar Land, said that when they first heard about Capernaum they were excited because many of the modules are affordable for all catechists, and Capernaum allows the user the opportunity to complete various modules at their own pace and at a convenient time.
“We are always looking for ways to train and promote growth within our ministry to our Catechists, and Capernaum allowed us the ability to do so,” she said. “Capernaum is very helpful and provides opportunities for our parish to continue to form intentional disciples of Jesus Christ through lifelong faith formation with our Catechists.”

Alcocer said one of the advantages of the software that was not present a few years ago is the ability to log in at any time and check the status of the modules that users may take.

“In the past, you had to search extensively for various topics of interest on the Archdiocesan website and risk not completing assigned formation,” she said. “With this new software, all you have to do is select the field you are interested in and register for the online modules.”

She said a benefit of this online system is that it allows her to participate in the youth ministry community and collaborate with other youth ministers in her area through the an online communities section.

“This year, we are working with the Archdiocese to pilot the Younger and Older Adolescent Catechesis program, and within the Capernaum system, we are a part of the Connect Community for the Older Adolescent Pilot Program,” she said. “This Connect Community feature is a great resource for us because it provides all materials” and informatoin needed to plan for an upcoming year and offers a place to network and learn from other ministry leaders in the Archdiocese.

While it hasn’t been rolled out at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in The Woodlands yet, Father Pat Garrett, pastor at the parish, was invited to create an ID and test it. He said he is anticipating that catechists and Liturgical ministers will be the first groups to benefit from the software.

“The software can help us manage our ministry formation and faith enrichment programs,” he said.

Father Garrett said the biggest advantage he sees of the new program is the ability for parishioners to access Archdiocesan classes.

“We have great problems today communicating what the Archdiocese has to offer and when they are offering the classes,” he said. “As more classes become available online, there are significant advantages to the parishioner being able to take the classes whenever they can work them into the schedule. Today, classes are only offered once or twice a year, and often the parishioners have conflicts on the dates the classes are scheduled for.”

Father Norbert Maduzia Jr., pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, said that due to the changes brought about by COVID-19, the church has not yet begun to use the website.

“Our plans are to use it for catechist formation and staff professional development,” he said. “We will also use it to track catechist certification for all of our catechists. Our hope is that it will also be used for certification for members of the staff and parish for Liturgy, peace and justice and other programs offered through Capernaum.”
Father Maduzia said the ability to track catechist certification and their training is a definite advantage.

“As we have learned now with COVID-19, distance training is a big plus,” he said. “This will allow catechists and others in various certification programs to train on their own schedule rather than having to drive to the Chancery or a parish site for the training.” Young families can now take the classes at their own pace and time, he said.

Father Maduzia said he is impressed with Capernaum, adding the training is also comprehensive and complete across the board with everyone receiving the same information, data and knowledge to grow in their own particular area of ministry.

“It is very egalitarian allowing parishes without resources to bring trainers to make these resources available to them,” he said. “It truly unites the Archdiocese as a single unit of formation and catechesis for the various ministries that brings deeper intimacy with the Lord of knowledge of His Church.”