Religious Education

09-29-2013Weekly ReflectionBridget Rincon

Dear Parish Family:

It was about nineteen years ago, while I was sitting in the pew, that Father Maccarone made a plea from the pulpit, "Please, we need catechists for our program. Please someone, do something!" My heart began to beat faster, I felt flush and knew he was speaking directly to me. "But I am not qualified and I certainly don't know enough," I thought. With fear and trepidation, I walked to the narthex and signed up to teach. Little did I know at that time, what God had planned for me. Since that day, I have been serving as a catechist, teaching 1st, 4th, and in the John Paul II Evangelization Program since its inception. In addition, to teaching, my husband Raul and I served on the Pre-Cana ministry team and also as high school youth ministers for a more than five years. This year, Father Tim asked me to serve in the role of the Parish Catechetical Leader to oversee the program through which our Catholic faith is passed on to children from kindergarten through high school.

The love of Jesus Christ is at the core of all the efforts of our catechetical program for children. Our parish is blessed to have 129 catechists whom couple their unique God-given gifts with a desire to share in Christ's mission here on earth. Together with Maggie Castles, the Assistant Parish Catechetical Leader, we do our earthly best to serve over the 950 students who are currently enrolled in our program. Of these, 120 will be preparing to receive First Penance and Holy Eucharist and 143 will be preparing to be fully initiated into the Catholic Church when they receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states "Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God." (No. 2226). Our programs of study in each grade level are meant to complement the parents' important task of evangelizing children to provide an encounter with Jesus Christ. This year, we have incorporated an option for first grade students and their parents called Alpha, where the family can go to Mass, have breakfast together, and participate in formation too. Our sixth grade students will utilize a Catholic Bible Study program called Encounter, designed specifically for middle school students. Students preparing for Confirmation in the 7th and 8th grades will be studying What We Believe, How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries, How We are to have Life in Christ and How We are to Pray using the YOUCAT, a Catechism designed especially for young people.

The High School Youth Ministry began last Sunday with an Amazing G'Race where teens grouped in teams, scoured the parish campus for clues that would help them towards the finish line. More than 40 teens gathered and enjoyed meeting new friends, being outside, having fun, and of course…eating! The next meeting is tonight (Sunday) from 7:00 to 9:00 in the Parish Center Gym. Teens come and check it out! Parents, please encourage your child to attend!

We are also pleased to welcome 16 students to the RCIA program for children. These students will be studying over the course of the year and will be welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil.

This year, a Memorial Scholarship fund began to honor one of our beloved catechists who served students preparing for Penance and First Holy Communion. Luisa Renda, mother of four, served in our Religious Education program for many years and had a special affection for children preparing to receive Jesus for the very first time in the Eucharist. Luisa died on December 18th, 2007 at the age of 42. To date, more than $4,000 has been donated to the Memorial Fundin her name and 48 families have requested scholarships from the fund.

"Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent." These words of Pope Francis are a reminder of the mission that Christ has entrusted to each of us. We are still in need of individuals to serve as classroom aides, hall monitors, and for support of our special needs children. In addition, we need a 6th grade catechist to teach Salvation History. Please contact Maggie or I if you might be interested in learning more about these opportunities to serve.

Bridget Rincon