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Gail Schlicht

Saint Clare Center creates community, enriches formation

Often, the best innovations come from creative solutions to pressing needs. The Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership recognized that lay Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had a growing need and desire for formation in the areas of theology, Scripture, spirituality, and ministry, but there were few places for a non-degree-seeking individuals to obtain such formation. To help fill this need, the Saint Clare Center launched its Saturday Institute for Lay Ministry.

Held at Cardinal Stritch University’s Fox Point campus on six Saturdays each semester, the Saturday Institute offers parishioners, catechists, parish committee members and parish staff members a practical and immersive walk through Catholic-Christian spirituality, designed to deepen their faith and equip them to serve confidently and effectively in their parishes and beyond. Courses can be taken individually or as part of a two year/four semester program, which culminates in a Certificate in Lay Ministry.

To serve more of Milwaukee’s Catholic community, the Saint Clare Center offers sections of the Saturday Institute in English and Spanish.

Over the years, many lay Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have participated in the Saturday Institute to grow in faith and knowledge, including Gail Schlicht, who currently directs the Family Life Center at St. Stephen Parish in Oak Creek.

Schlicht participated in the program during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she shared that, despite everything, her faith and ministry were enriched by her experience in the Saturday Institute.

“I heard about the program through the staff at St. Stephen. We were at a meeting, and I asked if they knew of any programs to learn more about my Catholic faith.”

Like Schlicht, many Saturday Institute participants learn about the program through the witnesses of alumni.

“The staff highly recommended the program and told me that another St. Stephen parishioner was currently enrolled. I met with her, and we had a lengthy discussion about the program. Through that discussion and researching the website, I decided to pursue the opportunity.”

Among the reasons why she chose the Saturday Institute, Schlicht noted, “I really liked the variety of courses that were available.”

The program structure was another benefit, as was the Saint Clare Center’s handling of COVID-19 and commitment to helping participants stay on track to complete their certificate.

“I liked the set-up of the Saturday classes and how the courses were managed via semesters. I also liked how Cardinal Stritch University adapted to the pandemic so we could still have classes and maintain our opportunity to complete the program in two years.”

Reflecting on how her experience at the Saturday Institute has impacted her, Schlicht shared, “My experience at the Saturday Institute for Lay Ministry has been remarkable. I have learned so much about my Catholic faith and my faith has deepened immensely.”

The community she encountered through the Saturday Institute shaped her experience, too. “The interaction and conversations with the instructors and participants of all the classes also enriches the program.”

For any Catholics interested in pursuing the program, Schlicht offers the following message.

“I would recommend the Saturday Institute to anyone interested in learning more about their Catholic faith to deepen their faith in their daily life. I would recommend the Saturday Institute to anyone involved in their parish’s ministries.”

Asked about the value of participating in the program, she added, “I am extremely happy with my experiences and what I have gained and learned through my experiences with the Saturday Institute for Lay Ministry.”

Most importantly, Schlicht shared, “My faith has been deeply enriched through my experiences, as well.”

If you are ready to deepen your life of faith and grow in your understanding of the Catholic tradition, check out the Saint Clare Center’s website and learn more about the Saturday Institute for Lay Ministry today.