Cardinal Dolan, speaking to directors and coordinators of religious education at a Mass he celebrated May 29, thanked them and praised them for their tireless work in handing on the faith. He urged them to persevere without anxiety about the outcome and to rely on the Holy Spirit to make their work fruitful.
Summing up his message later, he told CNY, “All we can do is make sure our kids get the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit will do the rest. It’s like being a farmer: All we can do is prepare the soil, and get the rocks and weeds away, and Jesus will sow the seed and God will give the sun and water. It gives us faith and encouragement.”
The cardinal celebrated Mass at St. Augustine’s Church in Larchmont for 150 directors and coordinators of religious education from throughout the archdiocese. A luncheon followed at The Davenport Mansion in New Rochelle, where awards were presented.
In his homily, Cardinal Dolan quoted from the reading at Mass taken from the Acts of the Apostles, about St. Paul’s address to the Athenians at the Areopagus. Some of them followed him, but others walked away, and the same is true today, the cardinal noted. He stressed the importance for religious educators of not losing heart but continuing the work of evangelization with faith and trust.
The educators welcomed his message. Among them was Lydia vanDuynhoven, director of religious education at St. Stephen the First Martyr parish in Warwick.
“Whenever I hear the cardinal speak, I feel like he’s talking personally to me,” she said. “I appreciate his encouragement in the work that we do, because this is not an easy ministry.” She said she and her catechists appreciate the support of Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., director of the archdiocesan Catechetical Office, and Sister Teresita Morse, R.J.M., director of formation for religious education leaders. Both attended the Mass, and Cardinal Dolan praised them for their work.
Irma Aguilar, coordinator of religious education at St. John the Evangelist and Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in White Plains, said it is essential for parents to be involved in the religious education of their children. She called on parents is “to learn more about our religion” and practice their faith to set an example for their children.
“As much as the catechists teach the children, if the parents are not good models, they won’t follow our faith. They will very easily change to another religion,” she said.