In September, the New York Archdiocesan Catechetical Office embarked on a pilot program for 31 of the 410 parishes in the archdiocese, the purpose of which is to provide 30 90-minute sessions a year of religious education for children from kindergarten to eighth grade and to add five hours a year of family catechesis. Each year, the theme for the family catechesis segment will reflect that selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop for Catechetical Sunday. The program will be implemented across the archdiocese in the fall of 2007.
Sr. Joan Curtin, C.N.D., director of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, explained why this initiative was created. "This is a response to a request by Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop of New York. The cardinal wants to be sure that we as an archdiocese offer to our parishes the most extensive and highest quality faith formation opportunities for children and their families."
John Roberto, founder of the Center for Ministry Development, an independent non-profit organization that provides ministry leadership training and ministry development resources to more than 100 dioceses worldwide, was invited to lead the pilot parishes in a family catechesis process. Many of the leading publishers of Catholic religious education materials — Sadlier, Silver Burdett Ginn, Harcourt Religion Publishers, Loyola Press, and Benziger — gave workshops focusing on their family catechesis materials. "They have been with us from the start on this pilot and we are very grateful to them," Sr. Joan stated. "We are also thankful to the pastors and catechetical leaders who volunteered to take part in the pilot program.
"Since 1985, it has been the policy of the New York Catechetical Office that we visit each parish catechetical program on a regular basis. Ours is a large archdiocese with more than 400 parishes spread over a geographic area of more than 4,675 miles. That means a great deal of time on the road for the Catechetical Office staff. However, the cooperation we received from the parishes in organizing the pilot is evidence that visitations we have been making for more than 20 years are welcomed and appreciated."