What is the origin of the name Echo and when did the program begin?

Echo comes from the Greek word for “catechesis” meaning “to echo into,” derived from “kata” (meaning “into”) and “ekhein” (meaning “to echo”). Jesus, and Moses before him, believed that at some place within us a touchstone of faithfulness could be found, and that the right relationships, the right questions, and the right quiet put us in touch with that faith. Jesus’ interactions and teaching sought to create an echo in those he met, where they could feel God’s faithfulness within and be moved to live and share that faith with others.

Catechesis, or passing on the faith, then, involves helping another discover and echo the faith that already resides deep within. The Echo program is committed to helping apprentices and theology teachers find and echo the faith within each of them and to preparing them to help others do the same. As they serve the Church, Echo theology teachers and apprentice catechetical leaders seek “to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ” (National Directory for Catechesis 19, quoting Catechesi Tradendae 5).

Echo began in the summer of 2004 with 13 parish apprentice catechetical leaders. Since then, Echo has nearly doubled its typical class size to approximately 24. In 2014, the program began training and placing middle school and high school theology teachers in addition to parish apprentice catechetical leaders.

What are the primary dimensions of Echo?

There are three primary dimensions of the Echo Program: the M.A. in Theology, service to the Church in a parish or school, and integrative human, communal, and spiritual formation.

How long is the Echo Program?

Echo is a two year graduate service program beginning in mid-June and concluding with a capstone course and graduation occurring 24 months later at the end of June. 

What are the academic prerequisites and GPA to be accepted into the program?

The Notre Dame Graduate School and the Echo program require applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education by June 1, with a minimum of 6 credit hours in theology or religious studies. 

Strong candidates for Echo hold a 3.5 GPA or above. The Graduate School prefers a GPA of 3.0 or higher but may allow for applicants with lower GPAs to be admitted conditionally as non-degree students. Non-degree students are later admitted to degree status subject to successful completion of at least one semester of coursework at a 3.0 GPA or above.

Can I still apply to Echo if I do not have the prerequisite 6 credit hours in theology or religious studies?

Coursework in philosophy, history of Christianity, ethics, or other related fields may fulfill part of the minimum 6 credit requirement. Contact Geoff Burdell with questions. Applicants seeking options to fulfill the prerequisite requirement are encouraged to register for 1.0 credit online courses offered by STEP in the McGrath Institute for Church Life. To obtain the list of STEP courses approved for Echo prerequisite credit and for further information, please contact Geoff Burdell.

What does a strong Echo candidate look like?

Strong Echo candidates are those with a good academic record, demonstrated leadership experience in ministry and/or teaching, a sincere commitment to the faith and the Church, and an openness to holistic formation. Strong candidates for teaching theology possess a bachelor’s degree in theology or teaching experience or both.

Is it possible to participate in Echo as a married person?

No. Echo is unable to admit married applicants or applicants who intend to marry during the two years of program participation.

Can I live on my own during the two years of the program?

No. Echo requires all participants to live in community with other program participants as an essential dimension of formation. 

If I already have an undergraduate degree in theology or catechetics, is Echo still relevant for me?

The M.A. Theology degree is an outstanding graduate program for anyone interested in deepening their knowledge and understanding of the faith and its rich intellectual tradition and accommodates those with undergraduate theology degrees as well as those with limited theological study. The M.A. in Theology through Echo is complemented by mentored service to the Church and a robust formation program. Together, these dimensions provide a unique opportunity for anyone interested in learning, growing, and serving the Church. 

What is the financial cost to participate in Echo?

Tuition is covered in full. Each summer, participants receive housing and a meal plan for the dining hall at no cost. While in the diocese, participants receive a furnished residence and utilities at no cost. Primary participant expenses include books, traveling to/from work, groceries, and other personal expenses.

Do you receive a stipend during Echo?

Yes. All Echo apprentices and theology teachers earn a $12,000-per-year stipend (taxable), distributed over a twelve-month pay cycle.

Can I defer my loans during Echo?

Specific questions regarding loan deferment should be directed to your particular loan provider. Applicants who attended Notre Dame for their undergraduate degree may contact Notre Dame’s Office of Financial Aid/115 Main Bldg. at 574.631.6436 or finaid@nd.edu. The Director of the M.A. in Theology (574.631.4256) can provide proof of full-time student status upon request.

Am I required to have a car and a driver’s license for Echo?

All Echo participants are asked to have a car and a valid driver’s license during the two years of their diocesan placement in order to get from the community’s home to their placement site. If you do not currently have a license or a car, you are still welcome to apply to Echo; should you be accepted and commit to Echo, you would need to take steps toward acquiring both. Although you need not have a car during Echo summer (June & July), you must have a car from August-May each year. Please do not let this requirement prohibit you from applying. Contact Echo ASAP if this might be a concern for you.

What do most Echo graduates do after Echo?

Those who have completed the Echo program and have received the M.A. degree in Theology have taken diverse and inspiring positions in the following:

  • Parish Catechetical Ministry with Children, Youth, Young Adults, and Adults
  • Parish Pastoral Associate
  • Multicultural Parish Ministry
  • Diocesan Leadership Positions
  • Seminary (Priesthood)
  • Religious Life
  • Catholic High School Teaching
  • Catholic High School Campus Ministry
  • College/University Campus Ministry
  • Ph.D. Study in Theology
  • Faith Based Non-Profit Work
  • Marketing/Media/Communications Positions with Catholic Organizations
  • Law School; MSW Study; M.Ed. Study