Catechetical Office Develops an App to Stay Close to Its People

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The archdiocesan Catechetical Office has developed its own app, appropriately named Catechetical, to facilitate digital communication with thousands of catechists, directors and coordinators of religious education and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) throughout the archdiocese.

“They’re excited about the accessibility. I was thrilled by their response,” said Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., director of the Catechetical Office, about the feedback she received at the initial session of the basic training course for new directors and coordinators earlier this month.

In a world where smartphones are increasingly the communication tool of choice, developing an app made perfect sense, Sister Joan said.

Jim Connell, the webmaster for the Catechetical Office who was the primary creator of the app, said it would provide accessibility to the office’s monthly newsletter, a calendar of upcoming events, blogs by Sister Joan and Maureen McKew, the communications director for the office, and the office’s social media feeds. The app will also offer content from Our Sunday Visitor, which has been involved in its development, as well as RSS feeds from Catholic New York and the Archdiocese of New York.

“People are not on their computers as much as they are on the mobile devices,” Connell said. “This will help them stay in touch with us.”

Cardinal Dolan promulgated revised Guidelines for Catechesis, for Pre-Kindergarten to Grade Six, in catechetical programs and Catholic schools in the archdiocese, on Pentecost Sunday, May 15. The guidelines are in English and Spanish.

Sister Joan said more than 90 percent of the material was included in previous versions, the first of which was promulgated in 1987. Sections were added, such as one on virtue, and others were clarified, she said.

The Archdiocesan Religious Education Planning Committee, which was formed at the request of Cardinal Dolan and met monthly for three years beginning in 2013, has recently presented its recommendations to the Presbyteral Council and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. The recommendations covered a number of topics, including Ensuring the Services of a Qualified Director/Coordinator of Religious Education; Technology and the Parish Religious Education Program; and Assessment of Parish Religious Education.

Convened by Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, vicar general and chancellor, the committee included parish clergy, staff of archdiocesan offices and parish directors of religious education.

Sister Joan, who served as committee chair, said the clergy, religious and laity on the committee worked collaboratively. “All share a great concern and passion for religious education,” she said. “Parish religious education is a prime means of evangelization, not only of the child but of the family.”

This fall, the popular and enriching 2016 Forum with the theme of Mercy will again be offered at two venues for directors and coordinators of religious education, parish catechists and others who are interested in Church teaching.

The first daylong session will be on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, where Nancy Bird, director of training and development for RCL Benziger, will be the English keynote speaker, and Sori Govin, bilingual sales specialist at RCL Benziger, will deliver the Spanish keynote address.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, the venue shifts to Sacred Heart parish in Monroe, where Kathy Hendricks, a national catechetical consultant for William H. Sadlier, will deliver the keynote.

Cost: $25. Registration: www.nyfaithformation.org.

The Catechetical Office, along with the archdiocesan Office of Liturgy and the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, are sponsoring an Archdiocesan RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) Forum for parish RCIA directors, coordinators and parish team members; directors and coordinators of religious education, youth ministry and evangelization; pastors, pastoral associates, parish leaders and catechists; and other interested adults.

It will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Keating Hall on Fordham’s Bronx campus.

The keynote address, “The RCIA in a Pope Francis-Led Church,” will be given by Father Ronald Lewinski, an author and co-director of the Department of Parish Vitality and Mission for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Cost: $30 per person. Registration: www.nyfaithformation.org

The New York Catholic Bible School, a Scripture-study formation program of the Catechetical Office, has opened sites at the New York Catholic Center and at St. Denis in Hopewell Junction in addition to existing sites in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. New schools are being formed in Rockland, Northern and Southern Westchester and on Staten Island.

Thirty-one students graduated from the school this year. Since the program’s inception, more than 700 students have earned certificates for Advanced Scripture Study (four years) or Basic Scripture Study (two years).

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