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Welcoming a New Catechetical Year


Annual Supplement • SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

Newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton


Catechetical Sunday theme a call to young Catholics


n Sept. 15, the Catholic Church throughout the nation will mark its annual celebration of Catechetical Sunday, which acknowledges the importance of the Church’s teaching ministry and honors those serving the Christian community as catechists. During the celebration, parish catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry.

“The most important thing that the Catholic Church can do is hand on our Catholic faith to the next generation,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., said in a message recognizing catechists. The Catechetical Sunday tradition began as a response to a 1935 publication from the Vatican, “On the Better Care and Promotion of Catechetical Education.” Embraced around the world but celebrated in

the United States on the third Sunday of September, Catechetical Sunday is “a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel,” reads a statement on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website. “Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to See Catechetical • S3

 Bishop O’Connell, catechesis director reflect on evangelizers’ ministry ... S2  Diocese’s newest catechists ready for mission ... S4


Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

The Monitor • SEPTEMBER 5, 2019



Staying with Christ through our catechetical ministry

Ministrare Non Ministrari


his year, the theme and accompanying logo for Catechetical Sunday seem to be especially poignant in the context of where we are as Church, and civilization overall. The 2019 theme is “Stay With Us,” and is depicted by an image of Christ walking arm-in-arm with two young followers as they engage with people in all walks of life. This call to stay with Christ and be part of his mission of salvation speaks to us at a time when each day brings new reports of despicable assaults on innocent human life, when too many profess belief in Christ, yet reject the Gospel mandate to “Those care for the least among us, and when more young people than ever have disengaged from the faith. entrusted

The responsibility to evangelize – to witness to the Gospel of Christ – has always been with us, but it seems to be critically needed at this time in the life of the Church and the world. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us that “evangelization is the Church’s deepest identity and brings the good news of the Gospel to all who seek the life giving message of faith in Jesus Christ.” Evangelization means “bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation … at essence are the proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ and the response of a person in faith, which are both works of the spirit of God.” There is no true evangelization if the name of Jesus, his teaching, his life, his promises, his kingdom, his mysteries, (his Church!) – all of which constitute the Good News – remain unknown and unannounced (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 22) and unlived! And so we have the special designation of Catechetical Sunday to affirm, to commission and to support those

men and women whom we have entrusted with the teaching and catechetical preparation of the young, as they create, foster and encourage in their young lives a hunger and thirst for the Gospel of Christ and his Church. That is evangelization! What a sacred trust has been given them by and within the Church! What an awesome responsibility! What a profound opportunity! We must acknowledge that the challenge before them can be difficult. There are influences that work against the success and efficacy of our catechetical efforts. The cultural environment today is simply anti-Catholic and anti-Christian; just access the internet or social media; just watch evening TV

with catechetical ministry are the “good news.”

Catechesis creates opportunities for education, healing A MESSAGE FROM



atechetical Sunday is celebrated on the third Sunday in September and represents a day in which we recognize all of the catechists, teachers and parents who pass on the faith. Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, this year’s Catechetical Sunday observance will have as its theme “Stay with Us,” which provides the opportunity to deliver an evangelizing and healing message through our religious education programs, Catholic schools, youth ministry programs and more. This theme is derived from recent studies that found that young Catholics stop identifying as Catholic at a median age of 13 for reasons ranging from disbelief to dissatisfaction with the teaching of the Church. The October 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, however, found that young people who walk away from religion do not necessarily end their spiritual desire. Therefore, this desire is an opportunity for us as a Church to focus on the encounter

and accompaniment with young people and their families. The word “catechesis” comes from a Greek word meaning “to echo.” The catechist is the one who teaches in the name of the Church, who brings the Church’s teachings to the world. All teachers of the faith are also instruments of the Lord’s healing; as such, the responsibility of the catechist is more than conveying information – it is knowledge that embodies the faith in their own life, the authentic witness and encounter shared with the learner and the entire family. Catechists are called to humble service through a consistent life of prayer and faithful discipleship. When we think of Jesus, a model for others, we are called to be the healing presence of the Lord within us. We live in a world of brokenness, a culture of suffering; families are experiencing false values, accumulations of possessions, depression, addiction, suicide. Pope Francis calls this the “field hospital,” and we as catechists are called to bring God’s See Bringing • S7

USCCB graphic

programs or go to the movies, let alone read a newspaper or magazine; not only are our Catholic values and morals absent – they are actively opposed; in these days in our country, even the very freedom to believe is at risk! Contemporary family life does not always support a life of active faith; just look at surveys conducted in recent years about Mass attendance and participation as well as understanding and acceptance of Church beliefs and practices; what are we handing on to the young? The most important thing that the Catholic Church can do is hand on our Catholic faith to the next generation. When our Catholic faith is not connected to real life as “essential,” faith is perceived simply as an “add-on,” one among many “add-ons,” all of equal value, relevance and truth when compared with any and all other beliefs or no belief at all. Despite the obstacles, those entrusted with catechetical ministry in our Diocese are the “good news.” Their dedication, commitment and readiness to teach the true faith of Christ in its fullness as proposed by the Church create an energy, the energy of and for evangelization that will confront these challenges mentioned above with strength and steadiness. As Bishop, I want to encourage all catechists: lead by example with truth at your side. Jesus Christ is our salvation. His Word is truth. His message is freedom. His way is not only our path to eternal life but also to the fullness of human life here and now. Be a witness to Christ and inspire others to do the same. That is the goal of evangelization. That is the purpose of catechesis. It was Pope Paul VI who once wrote: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses (“Address to the Members of the Consilium de Laicis,” October 2, 1974).” I am deeply grateful for the work of our parish leaders, our catechists and our parents in this essential work of catechesis. I will keep you all in my prayers as you strive to encourage the next generation to see Christ in their midst, and to stay with him throughout their lives.


Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 •

Spirituality day for catechists focuses on finding joy Story by Mary Stadnyk, Associate Editor


Catechists enjoy conversation during the Aug. 24 spirituality day in St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant. Mary

he “3Rs” typically refer to reading, writing and arithmetic. Or, when talking about the environment, the three R’s are reduce, reuse, recycle.

But when 150 parish catechetical ministers gathered Aug. 24 in St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant, for a spirituality day that focused on the theme “Finding Joy in the Journey,” they heard about another “3Rs” to keep in mind as they carry out their respective parish ministries – “Rid yourself of resentments; Resign, and Render Thanks.” “Joy is what our Lord desires for us,” Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio said in his keynote address, speaking before an audience that included parish directors/coordinators of religious education, catechists, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults team members and youth ministers.

“Joy will never come to those who don’t appreciate what they already have.” After noting that the word “joy,” in some form, is found in Scripture 244 times, he explained that joy and happiness are not synonymous. “Happiness is tied to the present moment, to a set of temporary conditions or circumstances. As wonderful as those moments might seem, every one of them can change or be taken away,” said Msgr. Gervasio, diocesan vicar general and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton. Joy, on the other hand “is something else. It has to be found somewhere else,” he said. “Joy has less to do with emotion and more to do with firm belief. It is spiritual. It has God as its source. We have to choose joy. If we choose to be miserable, we will be and

so will those around us.” Along with Msgr. Gervasio’s keynote, the spirituality day, hosted by the diocesan Department of Catechesis, included Mass celebrated by Msgr. Gervasio and concelebrated by Father John Butler, pastor of St. Michael Parish, West End, and Father Mark Nillo, parochial vicar of St. Michael Parish, as well as time for sharing and brunch. The day, said Denise Contino, the department’s director, provided an occasion to “say thanks to the catechists for their service, sacrifice and motivation for the upcoming catechetical year and to help them grow in their spiritual life.” That was certainly the case for participant Jaqueline Crane. “Catechists can use all the help available to bring Christ and the Church into these young lives,” said Crane, who is starting her second year as a seventhgrade religious education catechist in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton. “The fact that Msgr. Gervasio’s main focus was on being joyful and bringing joy into our life brought home [the point] that religious education classes are … an opportunity to show [young people] what it is that makes them Catholic. Joy in everything that they do and joy in learning, and also that Jesus is joy,” she said. Indeed, as a guide to help participants make earnest choices for achieving joy, Msgr. Gervasio reviewed his “3Rs of a Joyful Catechist.” When speaking of “Rid yourself of resentment,” Msgr. Gervasio acknowledged that working for the Church has its challenges. “At times we can be offended, hurt, ignored or rejected and a deep inner protest emerges within us … We begin to harbor resentment and anger, and its resentment and anger corrodes the container it is carried in.” Msgr. Gervasio encouraged all to seek “spiritual therapy” by attending a Holy Hour and receiving the Sacra-

For an expanded version of this story, visit TrentonMonitor. com> News> Diocese Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, enjoys a laugh with one of the day’s participants.

Stadnyk photos

ment of Reconciliation. Msgr. Gervasio got a chuckle from the audience when he suggested they “resign from the Mona Lisa Society.” “I am not speaking about the devotees of Leonardo Da Vinci,” he quipped, but about “constant complainers, the moaners.” “While there is always a place for legitimate or constructive criticism, you can be sure that a ‘Mona Lisa’ will find fault with nearly everything and never make positive contributions to discussions or plans. When

we are constantly negative, we become blind to the good around us,” he said, then emphasized his point by referring to Scripture’s Road to Emmaus story and how the disciples “were so wrapped up in complaining, they did not see the Lord walking with them.” Regarding “Render Thanks,” Msgr. Gervasio reminded the catechetical ministers that “Gratitude is the gateway to joy. “The reason we may not feel as joyful as we’d like is that we don’t create enough space in our lives to be aware and grateful for God’s blessings,” he said. “Joy will never come to those who don’t appreciate what they already have.”

Catechetical leaders on a mission Continued from • S1 rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith,” the U.S. bishops said. This year’s theme, “Stay With Us,” entreats young Catholics to remain with and learn from the Church and her teachers, resisting the powerful influences of secular culture to leave the Church altogether. “The 2018 St. Mary’s Press study, ‘The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics,’ includes extensive research on young Catholics who have left the Church,” said Bishop Robert Barron, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. “One of their most alarming findings was that youth stop identifying as Catholics at a median age of 13, for reasons ranging from disbelief to dissatisfaction with Church teaching.” Bishop Barron noted that “sociologist Christian Smith, renowned for his investigation of the phenomenon of disaffiliation, discovered that many young people who stop identifying as Catholics tended to have ‘weak signs of attachment to the Church’ in the first place. “In other words, they were not formed very well in the faith,” Bishop Barron said. The Vatican’s October 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, however, found that “young people who end religious practice do not necessarily end their spiritual desire.” That is why the role of catechist is

MORE ONLINE Catechetical Sunday materials are available for parishes and individuals on the USCCB website, under the theme “Stay With Us,” including a variety of articles, videos and podcasts. Visit how-we-teach/catechesis/catecheticalsunday/index.cfm. ____________________________ ever-important, Bishop O’Connell said in his message. “Despite the obstacles, those entrusted with catechetical ministry in our Diocese are the ‘good news.’ Their dedication, commitment and readiness to teach the true faith of Christ in its fullness as proposed by the Church create an energy, the energy of and for evangelization that will confront these challenges … with strength and steadiness.” Pope Francis, in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation to young people and the entire people of God, “Christus Vivit!,” wrote that in addition to doctrine and morality, “It is likewise important that it have two main goals. One is the development of the kerygma, the foundational experience of encounter with God through Christ’s Death and Resurrection. The other is growth in fraternal love, community life and service … All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma and incarnating it ever more fully in our lives,” (213-214).


Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

Longtime DRE in Moorestown parish changing course


ver the past 32 years, Dr. Linda Dix has shepherded the religious education program in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, through a growth spurt that now sees 100 catechists instructing 1,000 young faithful. It’s been a collaborative journey, she said, one rich in stability and excellence that has benefited from the “cooperation of our parish priests, deacons, staff, parents, children and catechists,” which have enabled everyone to work as a team. That being said, Dr. Dix thinks it’s a good time in parish history for her to step down as director of religious education. Dr. Dix, who raised two sons with her late husband, Gregory, is looking forward to devoting more time to the newest generation of her family. “It’s time to be a full-time Nana,” she said. Parishioners can expect to see her around the parish in a number of capacities, however, as she plans to continue to be involved in music ministry. She is also looking forward to supporting her successor, Cynthia Robinson, whom she has known and nurtured since the latter was an eighth-grade student at OLGC, as well as helping Father Christopher Picollo, the parish’s new pastor. “It has been exciting to work together as we transitioned this summer,” said Dr. Dix, who praised Father Picollo for his energetic support of the program. Robinson, she said, is “excited to begin her new vocation. I have been most grateful for her loyalty and dedication to the religious education program.” Dr. Dix also plans to stay involved in the field of catechesis by teaching and coordinating the children’s catechumenate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. “Our RCIA children’s classes have grown from five to 25, which requires a larger team and coordination of teachers, students and parents. … I so admire what our catechists do that I would like to continue and be with them in the field.” Dr. Dix holds a doctor of ministry degree from Graduate Theological Foundation, established in Indiana; a master’s degree in theology and pastoral studies from La Salle University, Philadelphia, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Georgian Court University, Lakewood. As she looks back, Dr. Dix said, “We have been truly blessed with the catechists we have in our parish, and I am honored to stand with them in ministry. They truly understand that we bring children into a relationship with God and with one another.” She’s also proud of the way the parish and the religious education program have embraced the ministries of social service, twinning with a parish mission in Jamaica. “They have enriched our families with a global vision.” By Lois Rogers, correspondent For related story, see page S6

Dr. Linda Dix

The Monitor • SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

Catechists ready to lead, teach St. David the King looking to build lifelong faith followers


uided by the vision of pastor Father Timothy Capewell, St. David the King Parish is implementing a new lifelong faith formation model that will inform the way the Princeton Junction parish instructs and accompanies its faithful. Nanci J. Bachman, who Nanci J. Bachman has been parish pastoral associate and director of adult faith formation for 15 years, will head the Lifelong Faith Formation team, which includes a new team member, Julio J. Alvarez, sacramental preparation; as well as John O’Neill, Confirmation preparation, and Albert Martella, adult faith. For Alvarez, the primary goal of his work as a catechetiJulio J. Alvarez cal leader is simple and straightforward. “It’s trying to bring as many people as I can closer to Jesus,” he said. “Not only knowing, but understanding and living the faith, and [building] that relationship with Jesus.” Alvarez is in charge of sacramental preparation for both First Holy Communion and Reconciliation. He will also assist, as part of the parish’s catechetical team, with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. “It’s similar to what I did at the Cathedral,” said Alvarez, who previously worked for seven years as director of religious education for St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. “I’m also involved with RCIA at the diocesan level; I’m on the advisory board.” Bachman will be overseeing faith formation at all levels, she said. “It’s about how we link all of those together, to make it a living faith,” she explained. “We’re stressing a collaboration of ministries.” Bachman worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years before working for St. David the King. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in theology from Georgian Court University, Lakewood. As the youngest of six children and aunt to 29 nephews and nieces, Bachman has some insight into the importance of forming young minds and hearts in the faith. “Faith formation is a lifelong journey; we continue to grow in relationship with Jesus throughout our lives,” she said. “As with any relationship, it takes time and reflection to know the other. For young Catholics, religious education experience assists in this journey.” Born in Puerto Rico, Alvarez studied accounting in Universidad del Sagrado Corazon (University of the Sacred Heart), Santurce, Puerto Rico. He finished his associate’s degree at Rider University, Lawrenceville. He was

married to his wife, Lorraine D’Alio, in May. “I would like to start working on my master’s in theology,” he said, noting that he’d already been researching possibilities with Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary, South Orange. Of the importance of religious education for young Catholics, Alvarez was adamant. “I think in order to have a solid relationship with Jesus, we need to understand more,” he said. “That means starting early – studying [about] the Eucharist and faith.” Alvarez looks forward to “doing whatever I have to in order to make this program a success – I’m a team player!” Bachman is excited about the parish participation in the faith formation process, with a goal to “engage people’s hearts and minds in their quest for God … I hear people saying, ‘That sounds interesting, let me know if I can help with anything,’ so it’s like a springboard to really get the community involved.” By EmmaLee Italia, contributing editor

Partnership at core of Lincroft ministry model


upport and togetherness are at the heart of religious education in St. Leo the Great Parish, say those involved in the Lincroft community’s ministry. “Our staff works as a team,” said Mark Russoniello, pastoral associate for parish faith formation. “We meet frequently as a Gary Arkin team to plan and implement, sharing ideas and experiences and coming to mutually agreed solutions to issues that arise.” As such, the parish is welcoming two new coordinators of religious education this year – Gary Arkin and Paula DeStefano. DeStefano will be in charge of kindergarten through fifth grades, including coordinating sacramental preparation for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Arkin, meanwhile, will focus on Confirmation preparation. Arkin, a convert to the Catholic faith, calls Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y., his home parish. He and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children; the couple moved to Lincroft last summer. Nancy Arkin continues in her role as director of religious education for the Brooklyn parish. After attending Brooklyn College, Arkin worked for the New York Daily News in the 1990s through 2006. He then worked for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association in fundraising; shortly thereafter he began working in the Diocese of Brooklyn in marketing and promotions, as well as getting involved in catechetical training of youth and adults. His additional roles have included as instructor for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults for 17 years, for parish religious education and a King’s Men group leadership role, parish council member and parish prayer group leader in St. Patrick Parish, Brooklyn, and member of the Third Order

Continued on • S5

SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 •


Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

Lincroft welcomes 2 CREs Continued from • S4

Oratory of St. Philip Neri. “Religious education for young people is a priority for me,” Arkin said, “because I am aware of God’s call to each of us in Luke 18: ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.’” As a parishioner in St. Leo the Great Parish, DeStefano, too, values the opportunity to lead the parish’s religious education program. “Religious education, especially of our young Catholics, is vital to the future of our Church,” she emphasized. “Forming our young Catholics in the faith and nurturing their relationship with Jesus will help us to keep them active in the life of the parish.” Her role as catechetical leader, she explained, is one she views as companionship. “My goal is to help my students and their families on their faith journey,” DeStefano said, “to encourage a greater understanding of the faith, and to help them deepen their relationship with Jesus.” Arkin said his primary goal is to communicate both to catechists and the youth that Jesus is not a concept or an idea. “He is a person. We must strive not to just know about him, but come to know him intimately in order to live our lives to the fullest,” he explained. Additionally, DeStefano is eager to “foster a nurturing environment, where students, their families and catechists can share and grow in their faith,” she said. Arkin is looking forward to “building a community of believers in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, for their good. In this endeavor, I ask for the prayers of all in our Diocese.” By EmmaLee Italia, contributing editor

“Religious education for young people is a priority.”

it forms our youth in faith, community and a relationship with Jesus,” she said. Burke is an instructor for The Art of Teaching Catechesis, and is currently enrolled in the Diocese of Trenton’s Parish Catechetical Leader two-year program. Her new position in St. Anselm will include coordinating religious education classes for K-8 students; supervising Children’s Liturgy of the Word at Sunday Masses, and preparation for First Reconciliation, First Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. Additionally, Burke will continue her work with youth ministry – leading the junior youth group, coordinating various activities such as Cardboard Box City Sleepover, car wash fundraiser with ARC of New Jersey, clothing drives, cost drives, nursing home visits, helping with Family Promise, environmental projects, art projects and many different individual service projects. As athletic director of seven basketball teams, a cross country team and track team, Burke will also help coordinate athletic fundraising programs including an annual 5K race, gift auction, bake sale and pasta dinner. Burke looks forward to growing the parish religious education program. “I want to build components to our religious education and youth programs that remain long after I am gone,” she attested. “My goals as a catechetical leader are to increase youth and family participation, bring back families that have temporarily stepped away and help every child find their special place in our faith community,” she said. By EmmaLee Italia, contributing editor


aving worked for more than 26 years in education, Dr. Patricia Colontino is more than prepared to oversee catechetical instruction in St. Thomas More Parish, Manalapan. Retiring in June after 20 years in Hillsborough High School as a crisis psychologist, Dr. Patricia Colontino Dr. Colontino is looking forward to expressing her faith more freely. “Working in a public school, I had to keep that in check,” she explained. “I don’t have to do that here.” The parish with two worship sites – St. Thomas More Church, Manalapan, and Our Lady of Mercy Church, Englishtown – will look to Dr. Colontino as its new director of religious education. “I’ll be overseeing classes and the content, and being with the kids,” she said. “I may have to teach as well; that wasn’t the plan, but I will if I need to.” Dr. Colontino earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, and a doctorate in school and community psychology from Pace University, New York City. She is a certified catechist and taught the CARE certification program. She also took several courses from the University of Dayton, Ohio, including Old Testament, New Testament, On Bended Knee, and

Continued on • S6


St. Anselm parishioner keeps growing in ministry


n her home parish of St. Anselm, Tinton Falls, Frances Burke is no stranger to ministry work, being active in various youth and athletic activities. Now, she is poised to become parish catechetical leader. Married to husband, Tom, for 17 years, the couple has four children – Tommy, 15, AlexanFrances Burke dra, 13, Emma, 10, and Brendan, 7 – all of whom will continue to see the benefit of their mother’s leadership roles firsthand. “I have a child in each of the religious education programs that we offer at St. Anselm: Communion preparation, Growing in Faith Together (GIFT), Confirmation preparation and Confirmation,” Burke said. Burke graduated from Rutgers University in 1998 with a bachelor of science degree and holds a New Jersey teaching certificate in elementary education. She taught first grade in St. Jerome School, West Long Branch, second grade in St. Aloysius School, Jackson, and eighth grade in Freehold Township public schools. “I believe that religious education is important because

Manalapan DRE brings psychology to new role

Prayer for



God, our Heavenly Father, you have given us the gift of these catechists to be heralds of the Gospel to our parish

family. We lift them up to you in thanksgiving and intercede for them concerning their hopes and needs. May we be attentive to the presence of your Word in them, a Word that lifts up and affirms, calls forth and challenges, is compassionate and consoles. We pray that our parish family will always be blessed with those who have responded to the call to share in Christ’s prophetic mission as catechists. May we too be open to the universal call to service that Christ addresses to all of his disciples, contributing our gifts to the communion of faith, the Church. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. Copyright © 2019, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Image: Carmen Fernandez. To order publication no. 7-630, visit or call 800-235-8722.


Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

Colontino ready to take reins Continued from • S5

an in-person seven-week course through St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Old Bridge. Dr. Colontino and her husband, Bob, are parishioners of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Monroe Township, in the Diocese of Metuchen. They have three grown children – one son and two daughters – and five grandchildren. Speaking of her previous work, Dr. Colontino said her efforts with at-risk youth was something she enjoyed, but “it was time for a change. I was also the suicide preventionist for the district, and I responded to too many [incidents]. But I loved to be with the kids.” In her involvement with many interstate committees, Dr. Colontino and her colleagues observed an increase in the number of people turning to faith communities for mental health issues. “Children need to have a good solid inner core,” she said. “Religion serves that purpose … We need to give them roots, a solid constant.” Her primary goal as a catechetical leader is to reinforce kindness and acceptance. “Parents bring their kids here [to religious education] for a reason,” she said, noting that some may not go to Mass regularly. “But let’s plant the seeds … As far as I’m concerned, the only way to do that is with kindness. “I think I’m right where God wants me,” Dr. Colontino continued. “[In my previous job], people would ask, ‘Why do you want to work with people [in crisis]?’ And I would say, ‘That’s where God wants me right now.’ I think this [position] is his way of giving me a break.” By EmmaLee Italia, contributing editor

Cinnaminson teacher happy to help kids grow in faith


year of firsts” is what Michelle M. Doré is looking forward to as she begins her tenure as coordinator of religious education in Cinnaminson’s St. Charles Borromeo Parish. “I know this first year will be a challenge,” Doré said. “I’ll be getting to know all the students – there are 500 of them. We’ll be going through a very Michelle M. Doré meaningful year with First Penance, an eighth-grade Confirmation and Holy Communion. Yes, it will be a lot of firsts, but I’m looking forward to experiencing these wonderful times in their lives and helping them grow in faith” assisted by 50 catechists. Doré, a member of Sacred Heart Parish, Riverton, resides in Palymra as do her parents, Beatrice and Jules, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in October. She attended St. Charles Borromeo School, where she was a member of its first kindergarten class. She earned a bachelor of arts in textiles from Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University and was a retail buyer for 11 years before she decided to return to what had been her first career goal – teaching. “During my time as a retail

buyer, I was training assistants, and I realized that training is teaching and that what I really wanted to do was teach.” After completing an online master’s degree in elementary education, a chance encounter with her second-grade teacher in St. Charles Borromeo opened the door to her returning to the school as a teacher, where she taught fourth and fifth grades. During that time, she also took a one-year class in catechesis and volunteered with the parish youth ministry for three years. Doré said that when she learned Pat Hafner, parish coordinator of religious education for 16 years, would retire this June, she felt called to apply for the position. “What drew me to become a coordinator of religious education was the fact that I could use my business and managerial skills along with providing students with an education – a religious education,” Doré said. “My faith has grown since working in St. Charles Borromeo School, and I enjoy sharing my faith with my students,” she said, adding that she feels it is important for students to believe in God and to have faith, especially in themselves. “Having a conversation with God so he can get to know us personally is the best way to do that, and we can do that at any time or anywhere.” “The ‘shoes’ that Pat Hafner left me are some very big shoes that I am very excited to fill,” she said. By Lois Rogers, correspondent

The Monitor • SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

women’s Bible study focused on bringing women to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus. In her years as a catechist, she has also helped facilitate various shows, workshops and activities for students in religious education programs, including Vacation Bible School for younger children. She also worked with special-needs students as a paraprofessional in Brick Township schools and was one of the Summer Academy teachers in St. Benedict Parish. As assistant coordinator of religious education, she will be running the parish Confirmation program and working with the youth ministry on service projects for seventh- and eighthgrade students. She also will assist with other children’s programs in the religious education department and in St. Benedict School. One of her main goals is encouraging young people to keep their focus on the Catholic faith beyond Confirmation, she said. “I read that for every one that joins the Catholic Church, six are leaving. If I can convince any of the young people to stay, to please not forget God, especially when they go to college, if I can get even one to continue, I’ll consider it worthwhile.” By Lois Rogers, correspondent

“I enjoy sharing my faith with my students.”

Holmdel assistant CRE on a lifelong mission


fter more than two decades as a catechist, Mary McKelvey will begin a new ministry as assistant coordinator of religious education in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel. Ask McKelvey what led her to begin this journey 20 years ago, and she answers that she Mary McKelvey never envisioned herself teaching religion. But when the first of the five children she and her husband, Tom, would raise was about to start religious education, she learned “there were no teachers.” Concerned and committed to seeing their son off to a good start, she decided to fill the void herself. At first, she said, she “worried about how hard it would be, but I found that teaching religious education was kind of like breathing. I found that I could do it and more than that, I found it was very rewarding.” So rewarding, in fact, that by the time her second child was ready to begin lessons, she knew she was in for the long haul. “I fell in love. I was a stay-at-home mom, and it was so nice for me to teach kids and see the way the faces of some of them just lit with interest. Watching them grow, teaching first through eighth grade, seeing them go through the stages was wonderful.” Raised in Brick, where the family still resides, McKelvey is a longtime member of St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant. McKelvey, who graduated with an accounting degree from Ocean County College, has experience in Scripture studies, including, “Walking with Purpose,” a Catholic

Familiar face takes on PCL role in Moorestown


ynthia Robinson of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish is no stranger to the Moorestown faith community. As a graduate of Our Lady of Good Counsel School, a teacher in her alma mater, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and wedding coorCynthia Robinson dinator, she has been a recognizable mainstay in the parish for almost all of her life. Now, as the new catechetical year begins, Robinson is poised to take on a ministry she considers to be of paramount importance: that of catechetical leader and religious education coordinator of a program where 100 catechists bring Catholic teaching to 1,000 students from 735 families. Succeeding Dr. Linda Dix, who has been director of religious education at OLGC since 1987, Robinson knows the task before her won’t be easy. She views her new position as one that will involve assessing, directing and organizing the religious education program in collaboration with the pastor, Father Christopher Picollo, and the school’s principal, Dr. Carla Chiarelli. Also among her goals, Robinson said, are fostering Continued on • S7

Robinson ready with new ideas Continued from • S6

adult education and parent programs for sacramental preparation. She and her husband, Christopher, who are members of OLGC, have two children, Kaylee, 8, and Christian, 6. “The main reason I have been drawn to religious education is due to the fact that the Catholic Church has been and still is a huge part of who I am,” she said. “Being raised Catholic, attending Catholic school and teaching in Catholic school is all second nature to me. I cannot imagine


Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 •

my life without it.” A graduate of Holy Cross Preparatory Academy (then High School), Delran, and Kutztown University, Kutztown, Pa., Robinson received a bachelor of science in elementary and early childhood education. After college, she taught second grade for 16 years at OLGC and then sixth, seventh and eighth grades, teaching religion in the latter two. Robinson said she considers the mission of a catechetical leader and religious education coordinator vital because “having a strong religious education will help shape individuals into human beings that have strong core values” that will enable them to have a “better sense of direction.” One of most challenging tasks ahead, she acknowledged, will be “making sure everyone’s needs are met” when it comes to balancing schedules and the like with catechists, kids and parents in mind. But Robinson said she is looking forward to working with different families and “being able to bring new and fresh ideas in order the make this program continue to be as strong as it is.” By Lois Rogers, correspondent

Scanlon to head new effort linking two parishes


Scanlon said he’s looking forward to heading programs that welcome about 175 children at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and are expected to top 125 at Resurrection Parish when registration is completed. He sees the pastors – Resurrection Parish’s Father John C. Garrett and Father Joel Wilson of Our Lady of Perpetual Help – as pioneers in what may become a wider effort for interparish collaboration. “Religious education is one of the most important aspects of trying to form young people today,” Scanlon said, “If we do it well, with both evangelization and catechesis, focusing on the goal of fostering a relationship between students and Jesus, we have an opportunity to bring about a union with the parents and the students that is of primary importance.” Scanlon grew up in Warminster, Pa., and holds an undergraduate degree in health/fitness and exercise science from Springfield College, Springfield, Mass.; a master’s degree in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and a master’s degree in sports psychology from Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Conn. He has worked in education as a theology and physical education teacher and in administration as the dean of formation and discipline for grades K-12 in Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, Fla. On the parish level, his experience has included serving as a Bible study coordinator, adult faith formation, teaching apologetics and evangelization. He has also been involved with the parish council, youth ministry board of directors and pro-life club and has served in liturgical ministries as a reader and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus. His athletic skills have been utilized as a high school and college football coach for 25 years, and he was vice president and coach of a roller hockey league in Naples, Fla. Scanlon and his wife, Laura Kraemer Scanlon, are the parents of six children: Dominic, Isaiah, Gabriel and Maria; son Chris Francis and daughter Therese Marie passed away. By Lois Rogers, correspondent

“We should always ... bring Jesus to students and families.”

ather of all families, you have called me to serve the family in truth and love as a catechist. May I be faithful to this call, rooted in your Word, and open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

hen Rich Scanlon began his new position as director of evangelization and discipleship mentor in Delran’s Resurrection Parish two years ago, he didn’t envision that before long, he would also become coordinator of religious education in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Rich Scanlon Maple Shade. Ask Scanlon how he feels about heading up two different parish programs, and his response is positive. “It’s really exciting to be able to reach more families and challenging, too, in that I’ll be in two different parishes with different styles,” he said. “It’s a welcome challenge, and we should always welcome new opportunities to bring Jesus to students and families.”

May I use these gifts, especially the gifts of faith, hope, and love, to serve the family as a witness to you, who are love and life and the source and destiny of all families.

Bringing Church teachings to the world a Baptismal call

A Prayer Catechist’s for Prayer Catechists



Let your Spirit enlighten my mind and strengthen my heart so that I can be a path of Christ’s love to families, especially those in need, the homebound and aged, the disabled and disheartened. Through the intercession of Mary and Joseph, I pray for the Church, the Bride of Christ, whose mission to build a civilization of love passes through the family. Amen. Copyright © 2010, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.Permission is hereby granted to duplicate this work

Continued from • S2

healing and mercy to others. Catechists and parish communities can become instruments of God’s healing. The first step can be to recognize that people carry emotional wounds of many kinds as well as physical ailments. Being able to provide safe and sacred spaces for conversations, and giving the student the ability to dialogue, can provide an opportunity to help our young people find a sense of belonging in the Church community. When we truly listen to our young people, we are engaging their hearts to bring them to the truth of the Gospel. Through our baptismal call, we are called to hand on the faith and be authentic witnesses to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an occasion for the entire parish community to reflect on that role. It is also an opportunity for catechists to rededicate themselves to the healing mission of catechesis as well as to invite others in the Church commu-

nity to take on a role in a religious education program, youth ministry, adult programs or others. We thank all of our catechists in the Diocese of Trenton for their continued service. Denise Contino is director of diocesan Department of Catechesis.

As parishes across the Diocese prepare to launch a new catechetical year, they have issued messages of affirmation and gratitude to the men, women and teens who will serve in this ministry.  Go to for a video of these special messages.

Welcoming a New Catechetical Year

The Monitor • SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

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2019 Annual Catechetical Sunday Tribute  

2019 Annual Catechetical Sunday Tribute  

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