One of the most important and lasting gifts a parish can give to its people is a qualified person to lead the parish religious education program. It’s also a gift to the parish itself, helping to insure the vitality of the faith community. On April 3, with Bishop John O’Hara presiding, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office formally certified 12 women who have completed two levels and several year of training. A 13
woman was certified as a parish director of the Catechumenate. One director has a doctorate in religious education and another is a candidate for this degree. All are totally dedicated to their ministry and to the faith formation of our children and their families.
A director or coordinator of the parish religious education program has most, if not all, of the responsibilities of a parish school principal – and often for a much larger population of children from prekindergarten through eighth grade. Some of our programs have more than 1,000 children.
Did you know that
- there are approximately 90,000 children in parish religious education programs?
- religious education for children is more than preparation for sacraments?
- there is a curriculum for pre-K through eighth grade?
- children in our Archdiocese are entitled by archdiocesan mandate to 50 hours of religious education per year including a total of five hours of Family Catechesis?
Just these four facts would tell you that anyone who is in charge of a parish religious education program needs to be a qualified director or coordinator, one who has been trained and certified by the Archdiocese through the department responsible for training religious education leaders and catechists: the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office.
A director of religious education, holds at least a master’s degree in theology, religious studies, religious education or a related field. A coordinator does not have this advanced degree. However,
all directors and coordinators
, even those who did prior service in another diocese, are required to take the first phase of the Catechetical Office’s two-phase Catechetical Leadership Program, the Basic Leadership Training course. The coordinator would then move on to Advanced Catechetical Leadership, which will provide the theological knowledge needed plus advanced administration skills. The director would take just the administration courses. Then – after a period of scrupulous supervision by the regional catechetical director, the director or coordinator would be invited to certification by Sr. Joan Curtin, CND, director of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, and Sr. Teresita Morse, RJM, who oversees the training of directors and coordinators.
Well, you might be thinking, this could take years. You’d be right. Many of our directors and coordinators have other jobs and they have families to raise. They give up their weekends and many evenings after religious education classes to study. This is a very challenging program but our children deserve the very best program each parish can provide.
I invite you to join me in congratulating and thanking the newly certified directors and coordinators of religious education, those who are already certified, and those who currently are in the Catechetical Leadership Program.