Posts Tagged ‘director of religious education’

Celebrating our Catechists and Catechetical Leaders

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

On Sunday, Nov. 17, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office will honor men and women who devote so much of their lives to the catechetical or religious education ministry. I am referring, of course, to our parish catechists and catechetical leaders. The annual Certification and Recognition Ceremony will take place at Maryknoll in Ossining. Msgr. Edward Weber, director of priest personnel, will preside. Catechists and catechetical leaders who have completed training and supervision will be officially certified by our office. Certified catechists who have given 25 or more years to the ministry will receive the Catechetical Medal Honor.

The ceremony will also feature the presentation of the Terence Cardinal Cooke Award to pastors, recently retired, whose parish catechetical programs demonstrated their outstanding support for the catechetical ministry; the Good Shepherd Award, presented to catechetical leaders and colleagues of the ministry whose lives and actions reflect  Jesus the Good Shepherd; and the John Cardinal O’Connor Award, given to catechetical leaders whose ministry to persons with disabilities and their families is exceptional.

It takes a great deal of dedication, selflessness, time and preparation to become a proficient catechist or catechetical leader. It takes great energy and creativity to maintain excellence in a parish program, whether there are 200 or 1,000 students. Everyone deserves the best.  It also takes a true missionary spirit because catechesis is at the heart of the Church’s mission to evangelize. Amazingly, almost no parish catechists receive financial remuneration and the catechetical leader is definitely not the highest paid person on the parish payroll.

However, if you stop and think about it, the catechists and catechetical leaders are some of the best evangelizers in the archdiocese. They reach out to parents, grandparents, siblings and family friends. They work hard to celebrate cultural diversity. They support the rights of persons with disabilities and their families to faith formation and make it happen for them. More times than you know, it’s their missionary spirit that brings people back to the church.

So, on Sunday, the 17th, perhaps you will whisper a thank-you to God for these selfless men and women, who give so much of their lives to the ministry of catechesis, helping their students and families to develop a closer relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.

Help for Harried Catechists: The Catechetical Forums are coming your way

Friday, September 27th, 2013

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a man who just started teaching in his parish religious education program.  He told me that nothing in his life (including being a dad himself) had prepared him for the ordeal of facing a room full of third-graders.  “I was terrified,” he said.

Catechizing youngsters has always been a daunting task but today more than ever, a catechist has to bring a veritable teacher’s tool kit, filled with age-appropriate faith formation, pedagogical know-how and plenty of psychology to the program.  Knowledge of technology also is becoming a “must.”

It’s not about getting the children’s attention but rather keeping it. Today, even the youngest children are more adept with technology than most adults and are far more easily distracted than children 10 years ago.  For a variety of reasons, many of them beyond their control, parents are not always able to reinforce at home what the children are learning about the faith.  More and more, a catechist has to act as the primary catechist of a child when this is really a parent’s responsibility.

But how in the world can a catechist keep up with the rapidly changing learning environment of a parish program?  Well, this is why the Catechetical Office will offer its annual Catechetical Forums on Oct. 5 at Sacred Heart Parish in Monroe and on Oct. 19 at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.  Both keynoters, Joe Paprocki  (English language) from Chicago and Marta McGlade (Spanish)  from the Atlanta archdiocese are national consultants, well known in the catechetical ministry. But – and this is even more important – they are active catechists in their parishes. They know exactly what today’s catechist confronts.

In addition to the keynoters, there will be dozens of helpful workshops offering enrichment for religious educators themselves, along with the kind of hands-on, practical advice that only trained experts and veterans of the catechetical ministry can provide.

So, if you are a catechist, or you are thinking of becoming one, don’t miss the Catechetical Forums. Visit www.nyfaithformation.org   to check more on the keynoters and the workshop topics.  See you there.

30 years of ministry and filled with wisdom.

Friday, September 20th, 2013

In his unprecedented interview yesterday, Pope Francis likened the relationship between the ancient Catholic churches and the young churches to the relationship between young and elderly people in a society.  He said, “[The young] build the future with their strength and the others with their wisdom.”

When I read those words, I thought of 22 older women and men who were honored last Saturday at St. Joseph Seminary. Fifteen of them were directors and coordinators of parish religious education programs 30 years ago when Terence Cardinal Cooke established the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office. We call them the Founders.  Practically all of them still are catechetical leaders and are full of energy for their ministry. One of them, Sr. Mary Rose Mullervy, OP, recently was honored by her parish, St. Anastasia in Harriman, which named its religious education center after her. Seven founding members of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office also were recognized at the seminary.

The occasion was the opening of a yearlong celebration of the Catechetical Office’s 30th anniversary. Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop emeritus of New York, celebrated the Eucharistic Liturgy and then joined Sr. Joan Curtin, CND, director of the Catechetical Office, in presenting icons of Jesus and Mary to those 22 founders.

The Catechetical Office also established the Edward Michael Cardinal Egan Award for extraordinary leadership. Cardinal Egan served as the vicar for education in New York from 1985 to 1988. With his support and guidance, the Catechetical Office developed the training and protocols that were to become models of professionalism to the rest of the United States. It was only fitting, therefore, that the first recipient of the award be Cardinal Egan himself.

I invite you to read about this special group of people  and view the  photo album.   You might find your own parish catechetical leader there.

Just imagine all the wisdom that this group of people brings to the formation of Catholics in this archdiocese. I think Pope Francis would be delighted to know of them.

 

 

Prayers for Peace

Friday, September 6th, 2013

The Holy Father has made an urgent plea to all the people of the world to set aside tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 7, as a day of prayer and fasting for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. Here is his statement.  Cardinal Dolan has added his own request to the family of the Archdiocese of New York.

If you are a director or coordinator of a parish religious education program that meets on Saturday, please invite those in your program and their families  to offer their prayers as well.

For those of you who will be in midtown Manhattan tomorrow, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See’s  ambassador to the United Nations, will offer a Mass at 5:30 pm at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Please come and, by all means, invite your family and friends to join you there.

 

 

On Ignatius’ feast day, thanks to an early New York Jesuit

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Today, July 31, is the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. This is an appropriate day to write about the contributions of one of his sons, whose name is known by so few, but to whom the Catholics of New York owe so much: Father Anthony Kohlmann, S.J., the first vicar general of the Diocese of New York.

In 1808, Pope Pius VII created four new dioceses in the United States. One of them was New York. The pope named a Dominican friar, Father Luke Concannon, as the first bishop. The new bishop made plans to sail here from Naples, but Napoleon got in his way by placing an embargo on American ships. Realizing that he wasn’t going to get to his new diocese anytime soon, Bishop Concannon wrote to the pope and asked for a vicar general to be appointed in the meantime. The pope named a German Jesuit, Anthony Kohlmann, to the position while the bishop tried unsuccessfully to set sail. Bishop Concannon died in Naples in 1810 and Father Kohlmann went on serving as vicar general until 1814.

At the time of Kohlmann’s arrival, there was just one church for New York’s 14,000 Catholics, St. Peter’s. The pastor there was ill and shorthanded; the Catholics were, shall we say, a tad lukewarm in their practice of the faith. The energetic Jesuit soon could report that Mass was being celebrated in three languages, religious education classes were thriving, and the Catholics were outgrowing St. Peter’s.  It was a time for a second church and what a church it would be: the first St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  It was built on the site of a cemetery, well north of the northern border of New York City, Canal Street. Many Catholics complained that the site was too far out of town, but Kohlmann apparently understand that the city was growing and had only one way to go: north. This was a lesson a future ordinary of New York, Archbishop John Hughes would learn, too.

So we owe what is now properly called the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral to a Jesuit. But we owe him more. Good Jesuit that he was, Father Kohlmann and his companions established a college near the first cathedral. However, the need for additional space led to the purchase of a site four miles north of New York, near Columbia University’s Elgin Gardens. The Jesuit college moved up and into a mansion that already stood there. However, the Maryland Province of the Jesuits ordered this college to be closed so that the Jesuits could concentrate on another college they ran, the one in Georgetown. And what happened to the property? It became of the site of the current St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

Today, as we honor the founder of the Jesuits, we New Yorkers should give thanks especially for Father Anthony Kohlmann, who built the church of New York in mortar and practice.

Thanks to Thomas Young, author of a marvelous history of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New World Rising (Something More Publications 2006), for the story of Anthony Kohlman, S.J.

The Catechetical Forums: not just for catechists

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Each autumn, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office sponsors two wonderful events that enable catechists and parish religious education leaders to sharpen their teaching skills, increase their knowledge of the faith, and pick up invaluable tips on turning a good parish religious ed program into an excellent one.

This events are called “The Forums” and they take place this month in two convenient sites: this coming Saturday, Saturday, Oct. 8, at Sacred Heart Parish in Monroe and Saturday, Oct. 22, at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. Archbishop Dolan will celebrate the opening Mass in Monroe and Cardinal Egan will be the principal celebrant in the Bronx. Pastors and other clergy are cordially invited and encouraged to join them.

In addition to specialized workshops given by veteran religious educators for parish catechists and catechetical leaders, the Forums will offer presentations of interest to all Catholic adults interested in knowing more about the Faith. In this Year of the Mass, Msgr. William Belford, vicar for clergy and an expert on liturgy, will address the new Roman Missal. Another great liturgist, Sr. Janet Baxendale, SC, will lead a workshop titled “I Didn’t Know That!” Other workshop topics include Scripture, justice, media, guided meditation, Christian marriage annulments, vocations and more.

Find out more about the Forums and you wish to attend, you may pay at the door. See you there!

 

It’s First Eucharist time.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The month of May is filled with milestones, among them Mother’s Day, college and university graduations, and perhaps most importantly for many Catholic families with young children, First Eucharist.

As I write, our parish directors and coordinators of religious education, our catechists, and our Catholic School teachers are preparing thousands of children for what is both a sacrament and a milestone in a life long journey of faith for the First Communicants and their family.

For a pastor, the Liturgy is one of joy. What a comfort it must be for him to look out on those eager little faces and to see their proud parents, grandparents, siblings and family friends just beaming. Of course, in many parishes, the number of children receiving First Eucharist is so large that the seats assigned to each family have to be limited. In other parishes, there are several Liturgies. This means a great deal of work for the pastors, directors, coordinators, catechists and teachers, not to mention the servers, church musicians, ushers and other parish staff members, but one rarely hears any complaints from them.

What Catholic, active or inactive, could fail to be reminded of her or her own First Eucharist? A young member of my family will receive First Eucharist on Saturday, May 8. When I learned of the date, I suddenly remembered that I received the Sacrament for the first time on a May 8 as well. Of course, that was more years ago than I care to admit but isn’t it interesting how the date stayed with me? I couldn’t tell you the date of my Confirmation.

Of course, many families will celebrate with a party afterward, but the wise ones will know that the key moment is the Liturgy. It’s not about the pretty white dress and the new suit; it’s not about the gifts, although they are lovely; and it’s not about the restaurant or caterer. It’s about Jesus coming to the child and that child’s family.

In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based catechetical method that is growing in popularity in our archdiocese, First Eucharist is preceded by a family retreat experience. After the First Eucharist liturgy, children don’t rush off to party. Instead, they actually return to the atrium, that reserved special place in the parish where the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd always takes place, to ponder what has happened. If the families want to have parties that’s fine, but they are asked to schedule them for a later date.

Interestingly clothes are not a big issue in the Catechesis because all the children wear simple white garments. Doesn’t that make every parent who had to watch a daughter try on 50 dresses before falling in love with the most expensive one, just a little envious of the parents in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?

Whatever catechesis our First Eucharist children are in, all of us in the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, both at our central office and every one of our regional offices, join in the joy of these children, their families and their friends.  May the rest of their lifelong journeys of faith be filled with joy and grace.