Did you know that more than 100,000 Catholic children and youth in the Archdiocese of New York receive their formation in the Faith at parish religious education programs? That’s a staggering number, isn’t it?
Equally staggering is the fact that the catechists who teach them are overwhelmingly volunteers, led by dedicated directors and coordinators of religious education – some full-time, others part-time because they have other full-time jobs.
In spite of the enormous commitment of time and talent they make, these good people want more in the way of training. And they are willing to sacrifice time with their families to go for theological, pedagogical and spiritual formation, whether in traditional classes or on line. In fact, they requested that our Archdiocesan Catechetical Office provide them with a dedicated day of prayer and workshops – from early in the morning to late in the afternoon on a precious Saturday.
So, coming their way in two locations is The CatSkills (short for catechetical skills) Forum, which will be offered during the month of October: on Saturday, Oct. 9, at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx and on Saturday, Oct. 23, at Sacred Heart Parish in Monroe. We are grateful to both sites for hosting this event. Already, several hundred catechists have signed up and more are requesting tickets as we get close to the dates.
Archbishop Dolan will celebrate the opening Eucharist in the Bronx and Msgr. Edward Weber, vicar of Rockland County, will be the celebrant in Monroe. We are grateful to them and to all the pastors and catechetical leaders who are making it possible for their parish catechists to attend. Special thanks as well to Sr. Kevin John Shields, OP, regional catechetical director for Sullivan and Orange counties, and to her wonderful team of regional directors and volunteers for organizing the CatSkills Forum.
As all our best catechists will tell you, they can always benefit from a new teaching technique to help them make the most of the opportunities they have with the children and youth. The minimum time mandated for a parish catechetical program is 30 sessions in an academic year, each session 90 minutes long, plus two family catechesis experiences.
The CatSkills Forum will offer workshops on organizing successful 90-minute sessions for grades 1 to 6, on learning styles and multiple intelligences, on liturgy and the coming changes in the texts used at Mass, on the sacraments, on the Church’s liturgical year, on how to navigate the mazes of technology and mass media, on the call to catechetical leadership, and more. Just look at these workshops and schedules. If you are a catechist or thinking of becoming one, you’ll benefit from these workshops.
There are still some tickets left. Price is $30 per person, $90 for a group of four. Here’s how to register.