Posts Tagged ‘ccd’

Our children deserve the best religious education we can provide

Monday, August 31st, 2015

With all the changes that parishes are experiencing in the process of “Making All Things New,” this remains constant: the obligation to provide our children and youth who do not attend Catholic school with the best education in the spirituality, teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. They have as much right to this as the children in Catholic schools. They are not second-class citizens of this archdiocese. Neither are their families.

The key to providing this is, of course, is a high-quality religious education program, led by a professionally prepared director or coordinator of religious education. The program is only as good as its leader. That is why the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office offers training to men and women who have accepted the invitation to serve in this ministry. If you are one of those people, you are not just responding to your pastor; you are responding to the Holy Spirit. To help you respond, I urge you to take advantage of the Catechetical Leadership Program.

Being a director (someone with a master’s in theology, religious studies or a related field) or coordinator is not a one or two or three-day a week job. There’s more to this than opening the doors and turning on the lights. You have to build a team of qualified, faith-filled, reliable catechists. Remember, they will most likely be volunteers, not paid employees. You have to develop relationships with families. You have to see to the safety of the children while they are attending the program. And more. You are, in effect, the principal.

The Catechetical Leadership Program is divided into two parts. Basic Leadership Training is designed to provide the administrative and leadership skills. Advanced Catechetical Leadership will provide the theological formation needed by every religious education leader who doesn’t have an advanced degree in the field.

By the way, the Catechetical Leadership Program also has a track for parish directors and coordinators of the RCIA, the process by adults and children who achieved the age of reason become fully initiated members of the Catholic Church.

The Basic Leadership Training Program starts September 19. Visit the website to find out more, as well as whom to contact regarding enrollment. If you are a new director or coordinator, you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Feast Day to a Champion of Religious Education

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Today, Nov. 4, is the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. Those who learn or who hand on the faith in parish religious education programs owe him quite a debt of gratitude. He was one of the earliest supporters of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, which was created after the Reformation for the purpose of providing religious education to Catholics, especially the young. Educated lay people offered themselves as catechists. Charles Borromeo established the confraternity in every parish of the Diocese of Milan, of which he was the cardinal-archbishop. It was the ancestor, if you will, of today’s systematic, parish-based religious education.

For many people, the initials CCD stand merely for the release-time classes offered until about 50 years ago to Catholic children in public schools, who were brought to Catholic school buildings for a weekly lesson in the faith. It wasn’t always a happy experience. The public school children frequently were warned not touch anything on or in the desks of the parochial school children, who had been dismissed early to make room. The teachers themselves frequently came from a day of class in the parochial schools and were exhausted by the time these children arrived. Many of those  in the so-called CCD believed they were second-class citizens of the parish.

We don’t use the term CCD these days. Since the early 1970s, the appropriate terminology is parish religious education or parish catechesis. (The word catechesis comes from a Greek word meaning to echo. Everyone who hands on the faith echoes the teaching of Jesus Christ and his church.)

The parish religious education programs of today, with their inclusion of family catechesis experiences, are quite close to the vision of people like Charles Borromeo, Philip Neri, Francis DeSales and other thoughtful leaders and supporters of the original Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Dedicated, energetic lay catechists and catechetical leaders once again have the opportunity to answer their baptismal call to hand on the faith to the next generation. These teachers follow guidelines established by the Archdiocese of New York in conformity with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They have professional training as catechists or program directors and coordinators available to them all year ’round from the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office.

So if you have a child or youth in a vibrant parish religious education program, do thank Charles Borromeo and his associates for making this possible.

Thank you, Archbishop Dolan

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Did you see Archbishop Dolan’s column in the most recent Catholic New York? It’s a strong reminder for all Catholics that our formal faith formation doesn’t end the day we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Actually, ongoing discovery of the Catholic faith and how to live as true disciples is our baptismal right and our duty. The Church is bound to make faith formation available to all of us. Canon Law codifies this in articles 773 through 780. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also affirms this in articles number 4 through 7, right at the very beginning of the catechism.

Every parish is the place where catechesis (faith formation’s formal name) should be offered locally.  Just last Saturday, more than 1,000 parish catechetical leaders and catechists came together at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx for the “CatSkills Forum.” This gathering offered courses  in theology, liturgy, and methodology for teaching Catholics of all ages.

Just as importantly, the Forum enabled catechists to consult with one another on the best ways of providing religious education to adults, youth, children and people of all ages with special needs in their parishes. Happily, the Archbishop was with us for the Eucharistic Liturgy, thanking everyone and reflecting on the passage from Matthew 28: 16-20, which concludes with those wonderful words “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

On Saturday, Oct. 23, there will be another chance to brush up on one’s catechetical skills (that’s where the word CatSkills came from) at the next CatSkills Forum at Sacred Heart Parish in Monroe, N.Y.  Here are all the details. Msgr. Edward Weber, vicar of Rockland County and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack, will preside at the Liturgy and we hope that many pastors from our upper counties will be there, too.

Are you interested in learning more about the faith and sharing it with other adults? Would you like to be part of your parish’s ministry to youth? Would you like to become a catechist for children? If you are thinking about this, talk to your pastor and your parish director or coordinator of religious education. Chances are they will be happy to know of your interest in helping them.

After all, more than 100,000 children and youth, plus countless adults, are being formed in the faith through our parish catechetical programs. There’s always a need for more catechists.

And be sure to visit our Archdiocesan Catechetical Office website for all the formation opportunities and events taking place for those who are called to hand on the Faith.  That’s you!