I know that the work of the Maris Stella Institute is not only about providing catechetical information or catechetical skills. I embrace and endorse the Maris Stella Institute because I know inherently that they are also about profound formation – formation of the hearts and souls of the catechists, so that you not only bring a knowledge of the Faith, but you bring that knowledge of the Faith with a living witness and with a powerful conviction that it is Mary whose abundant mercies in prayer to Our Lord will bring fruitfulness out of the apostolate that we are engaged in – a recognition that this is a work of faith and that it is about the salvation of souls, our own souls, souls of our family members, the souls of those whom we encounter in catechetical ministry.
The Most Rev. Robert F. Vasa, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Santa Rosa
(Given on Aug. 12, 2017, during MSI's 8th Commencement Exercises, at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Napa, California)
In Benedict XVI’s final meeting with bishops across the United States of America, he exhorted all bishops to be renewed in the essential task of authentic education at every level, and that it is “not simply that of passing on knowledge, essential as this is, but also of shaping hearts.” He went on to say that “there is a constant need to balance intellectual rigor in communicating effectively, attractively and integrally, the richness of the Church’s faith with forming…in the love of God, the praxis of the Christian moral and sacramental life and, not least, the cultivation of personal and liturgical prayer.”
Maris Stella Institute (MSI) is a catechetical institute in this vein; not only devoted to inspiring Catholics to live out their vocation in sanctity and holiness, but also in developing a deeper sense of how to teach the faith in a coherent and life-giving way.
Faithful to the teachings of the magisterium of the Catholic Church (each instructor takes the oath of fidelity), MSI stands as a clear response to the new evangelization in its effort to equip catechists with the tools necessary to be leaders in their respective churches and dioceses.
With great joy do I endorse Maris Stella Institute!
Joseph Hollcraft, Ph.D.
Seeds of Truth Ministries
Back in 2012, a good friend and I often discussed a lot of faith issues. Most of the time I found myself taking positions that came instinctively from my Catholic upbringing and schooling. However, I couldn’t articulate those even if I felt strongly about them, and that was so frustrating! Right about that time, too, there was a personal struggle with a popular sentiment which I know, again instinctively, was against the Church’s teachings, but I just couldn’t explain the reason(s) why to my loved ones. This was the time when Pope Benedict XVI opened the Year of Faith. This was the time when I saw ads for the Maris Stella Institute in our parish bulletin. I knew right then that God was telling me something.
Fast forward to two-and-a-half years later, not only did I find my voice in articulating the Church’s teachings with her wisdom and beauty (at least some of them, for I’m constantly learning!), but most especially I found myself growing more in love with Christ and His Church. I discovered myself echoing what was passed on to me. And I began applying what I learned to every opportunity that the Holy Spirit would bring to me, such as in my ministries, and especially in my home.
I thank God for the Maris Stella Institute, for being the lighthouse that houses and helps emit the light of Christ that continues to guide me, and makes me yearn for more and more! I wholeheartedly endorse the Institute to those seeking and to those whose hearts are open to know Christ more. The Maris Stella Institute is a Magisterium-faithful school and environment where we grow in mind—yes, there’s a lot of that!, but even more so, we grow in the heart. “When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Couples for Christ Vallejo Chapter – Pastoral Spiritual Formation Officer (with Husband)
Legion of Mary – Mother of All Nations Praesidium, Treasurer
St. Catherine of Siena Parish – RCIA program, Team Member
The Maris Stella Institute lives up to its name. Just as navigators sailed by the fixed motions of the stars, the Maris Stella Institute points its students in the right direction by ever pointing to the unchanging truth found in Church teaching, specifically the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in devotion to Our Lady who is a sure guide to her Son, Jesus Christ. It is a community where I personally have found safe harbor amid a confused and fragmented culture. I wholeheartedly endorse the Maris Stella Institute both as a source of authentic Catholic doctrine and a place for Catholics to answer the call of the mission of the New Evangelization.
St. Basil Church – Pastoral Council, Religious Education, Young Adult Ministry and Music Ministry
My name is Raj Derivera, co-founder of Be The Straw ministry and a candidate for Holy Orders, and I am writing this letter as a public endorsement of the Maris Stella Institute.
Growing up, learning about my Catholic faith was at times very tough. There were very few people who had answers for me when I had questions about liturgy, or the Bible or Catholic teaching. In my adolescence, when friends were converting away from the Church, and I was being questioned about my own faith, these concerns became even more pressing. Fortunately, around that time, I was blessed to encounter a growing group of Catholics who took their faith seriously, and were passionate about others discovering the rich and beautiful treasures of the Catholic Church. The Church needs more people who share the faith like they did, and the Maris Stella Institute does amazing work preparing people for this task – in fact, many of the members of the administration and faculty of MSI are part of that group of people that inspired my faith.
Lumen Gentium reminds us that “the primordial mission of the Church is to proclaim God and to be His witness before the world” (23). In order to do this, Lumen Gentium says, it is necessary for the Church to develop a profoundly religious catechesis, nourished on the Gospel, which will deepen man’s encounter with God and forge a bond of permanent communion with Him” (23). MSI accomplishes this work. I have had the privilege of witnessing the great catechetical work and training of others to do catechetical work that MSI has provided to so many. MSI consistently bears great fruit – I have worked and collaborated with alumni of MSI on retreats, workshops, ministry training, Diocesan conferences, Youth and Young Adult Conferences on many occasions, and always have been impressed by their profound understanding of the faith, and their faithfulness to the Church.
As a man in formation for the priesthood, I am excited to work in collaboration with lay faithful who “proclaim God” and are “His witness before the world” like those faithful involved with the Maris Stella Institute
Without reservation, I endorse the work of the Maris Stella Institute.
Co-founder of Be The Straw ministry
Candidate for Holy Orders
I wish to lend my support and endorsement for the work that Maris Stella Institute does on behalf of the Church. As a new and up-and-coming lay association it has shown its ability to teach and promote sound and comprehensive doctrine to the people of God. With a focus on catechetical training and instruction it demonstrates an understanding that faith properly imparted begins with faithfully formed instructors. There is no doubt that today, when we consider the troubled start of poor catechetical material and training in the post Vatican ll years, that the Church needs well formed catechists to begin the work of restoration. This institute provides the healthy remedy in rebuilding the Church through an educated association of lay members dedicated to helping the Body of Christ to know and love its faith. I express my shared hope that those in various levels of diocesan leadership and particularly its ordinaries may see the value of its work as co-laborers and sharers in the vineyard of Christ.
Fr. Arthur Najera
Associate Pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Covina, CA
Going to MSI is very personal for me. What started as a way to hang out with friends turned out to be a spiritual transformation. Before MSI, I thought I was a perfect Catholic. Do no harm and seek no evil; I felt set for life. As I continued to take classes, the reality of my sins came into light. By graduation I saw that my soul had a fork in its path: continue my life of sin or choose Christ. MSI encouraged me, strengthened me, and prepared me to pick up my cross and follow Christ. MSI has changed my life and helped save my soul. I fully endorse MSI and its activities.
The Maris Stella Institute (MSI) is a valuable resource for lay Catholics who want to grow in their faith and impact the culture for Christ. In particular, MSI’s Young Adult Catechist Society is an important tool for the New Evangelization because it not only teaches the faith to young adults, but also inspires them to live it with joy and empowers them to teach it to others.
Sean Salvatin, J.D.
The word “education” comes from Latin, meaning “to lead out”. Teachers lead their students out of darkness of ignorance into the marvelous light of the truth. Being a Master Catechist as well as a High School Science Teacher, I learned that true education occurs in the heart, and not merely in the mind. In the words of Aristotle, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” For the past six years or so, the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to aide and witness a truly holistic Catechist certification and faith formation process offered through the Maris Stella Institute (MSI). To see a class run by the MSI is to see manifest the words of Pope Paul VI, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41). The instructors and staff for MSI successfully mingle robust, rock-solid Catholic teaching with inspiring personal witness. This allows MSI to produce quality catechists who not merely talk the talk, but walk the walk. I look forward to working with MSI for many years to come.
In light of the aforementioned, I wholeheartedly, without reservation, endorse the Maris Stella Institute. May God continue to bless and prosper the Institute!
Certified Master Catechist for the Dioceses of Oakland and Santa Rosa.
Science Teacher at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, CA
Contributing Member of Be the Straw Ministries
I am very grateful for MSI in teaching me how to be an even better practicing Catholic. I have grown
because of MSI not just in what I learned, but also in my prayer life and how I live my life. In my current council, I am the unworthy lecturer and am able to use my knowledge of the Catechism to really help inspire my brother knights during my chats and teachings to continue to strive to be authentic catholic gentlemen. MSI’s close adherence to the Catechism helps me know that what I am teaching my brothers is sound lessons from Holy Mother Church, and the training I received from MSI to be a Catechist has helped give me the right words, so that my brothers are able to learn more about our faith and, more importantly, live the faith. I would hope more of our brothers can avail of themselves the instruction of MSI to be better husbands and fathers to their families, sons of Holy Mother Church, and Knights for our order.
Sir Knight Jarred Barrios
Chief Solano Council 3585 / Altamira Assembly