Catechesis & Faith Formation

Catechesis & Formation
Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

My computer was having blog problems which just got fixed so this message is last minute but nonetheless sincere. The Christmas Season continues through Epiphany so may these days be filled with all that makes you happy and grateful for the many gifts bestowed on us all year long and especially at Christmas. As a friend of mine once said "Every day is Christmas".  How true. Emmanuel is our constant companion on this journey of life.
Be good to yourself these days and may you be re-energized for the New Year ahead.
Merry Christmas!  Boas Festas!  Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blowing in the Wind

Dear Friends,

     With all the threats of Hurricane Irene about to descend on us there is surely a lot blowing in the wind.  May you all remain safe this weekend especially those of you near the water. Hopefully all our houses (faith included) are built on rock.

     The Holy Spirit has been blowing around here at the Office of Faith Formation and we are gearing up for the next academic (Ministry) year.  All of you should have recieved a mailing of our upcoming programs and an e-mail regarding the publicity packet for the convention which is online at our website as well as the letter that Claire sent to all the pastors regarding all our upcoming programs.

    I want to bring your attention to the Go and Make Disciples flyer which you received in the mail.  We are looking for 5 or 6 parishes to pilot this 8 month training process for core team members to become/train evangelizers in their parish.  Ask yourself if your parish core team could benefit and commit to this evangelization process. The pastor has to be a member of the core team if there is any  hope of success. We count on you to listen to the stirrings of the Spirit and encourage action as the Spirit moves you.

    We have at least 13 new catechetical leaders throughout the Diocese. Welcome and be assured of our support. Hopefully each deanery will find a way to meet on a regular basis offering the opportunity to pray, learn, and share together as catechetical leaders. Please keep me informed of your meeting dates. I would like to attend at least one meeting in each deanery to keep in touch with your concerns.

    Some resources I would like to share with you which I have taken from the weekly newsletter for NCCL members:

RCL Benziger, a leader in religious education programs and products for the Catholic community for nearly 200 years, announces today it has launched a new website, On August 15, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus, and the first of her son's disciples. She was a true disciple who accepted her faith, lived and grew in it.

RCL Benziger is imagining the "what ifs?" of a world full of Christ's disciples.

The new website allows visitors to share their own stories of discipleship by uploading blog entries or short videos. Inspirational videos from a catechist, a DRE, a pastor, a parent and a student offer food for reflection so that others may share their thoughts, ideas and inspiration.

Visit today and share your story with others! 

Getting Started as a Catechist: FREE Webinars – TWO Down, Two to Go
Roughly 150,000 catechists are new to the job each year, and Loyola Press is supporting their training by hosting a webinar series called “Getting Started as a Catechist.” In this series, Joe Paprocki, DMin, discusses the basic skills of being a catechist, how to plan effective lessons, ways to lead compelling prayer, tips on how to organize a variety of activities, and how to maintain order and discipline in the learning environment, in addition to other topics.

“Becoming a catechist is exciting and, let’s face it, somewhat intimidating!” Paprocki says. “New and experienced catechists are eager to learn ways to effectively engage young people in faith formation and basic teaching skills to help them gain confidence in this vocation.”

There will be four webinars in the series, each focused on a different age group. The following is the breakdown of the sessions and dates, which all air from 8 pm to 9pm EST.

·         August 30 (junior high and high school)
·         September 6 (adult faith formation)

These webinars are free and give catechists, and those interested in becoming catechists, the opportunity to learn more about their vocation from the comfort of their computer. These webinars will also help catechists prepare for Catechetical Sunday. Those who are interested can register at Catechist's Journey ( If you have never seen Joe in action and want a personal invitation, here is a video clip of him talking about the series:

Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist
 Fr. Ron Rohleiser’s newest book on the  Eucharist.  It is a personal reflection on how he understands the Eucharist and why he celebrates it every day. You may want to consider reading this as a way of preparing yourself to celebrate the source and summit of our faith rather than just focusing on the change of words. You can purchase Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist.

As you prepare for Catechetical Sunday remember that there are several materials available at and .

Best wishes for the coming year.  May the Spirit of Compassion encircle you with His/Her Divine Presence.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer is almost here

Hello Friends,

     We are up to 26 followers so we are gradually get a few more catechetical leaders to join this blog. I am told that they need better directions on how to do it so we will work on that.

     At the end of May I was fortunate to be able to attend the NCCL Conference in Atlanta where I  heard some great speakers and attended some very good workshops.  It was my first time at NCCL (National Conference of Catechetical Leaders). It is a national organization for Diocesan Directors but also for parish catechetical leaders. As far as I know there are only 2 members from our diocese who belong.  You might want to check out their website and consider belonging. Members receive a weekly e-mail that is full of useful information and resources some of which I have put on my blog in the past.

    This past week a few catechetical leaders from the Fall River Deanery met for breakfast.  We are resolved to meet at least 4 times during the coming year as a needed support for each other as well as an opportunity to share programs and ideas.  Cape Cod and Attleboro continue to meet monthly which is wonderful. Those two deaneries have the most full time catechetical leaders.  New Bedford is trying to be more consistent in their meetings and Taunton has not met at all this year but Joe and Joy Viveiros have offered to jump start that group in the fall. These conncections are important for us personally and for our ministry. Let's do our part to support each other.

June 14/15, 2012- Please put those dates on your calendar.  We are hosting a program called "Strong Catholic Families:Strong Catholic Youth".  The first night will be for parents. The second day will offer input for clergy and catechetical leaders regarding how to work with parents more successfully. Those who volunteer to be trainers for the Diocese will recieve specific training enabling them to assist parishes who wish to conduct these parents sessions.  The Diocese of Worcester and Providence have already initiated this program and are finding it very worthwhile. Stay tuned for more information.

How much experience have you had with children in the RCIA?  I suspect very little and yet it can be such an evangelizing moment not only for the child and his/her family but for the entire parish.  Remember that the pre-convocation on August 4-5 (noon to noon) at the Marriott  in  Springfield is offering an excellent track on this very topic.  Diana Dudoit Raiche is conducting the session and she has just finisihed her dissertation on the catechemenate with children. If you register before July 11 the fee is only $115 for presentation and meals. The hotel is extra but only $93 a night and if you share a room you can split the cost.  For $210 more you can register for both the pre-convocation and the convocation. I beleive that 2 or 3 catechetical leaders from Somerset are planning to attend the pre-convocation. You all received the brochure and registration form but if you misplaced it just go to our website,

Have a great summer. Hope to see some of you in Springfield in August. In the meantime remember we are here in the office to assist you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Easter

"We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song"....Let us try to keep singing Alleluia until Pentecost.

I had the privelege of spending Easter week at the seashore in a house owned by the Sisters of Mercy (part of the hundredfold). As I soaked in the beauty of spring and the sound of the surf I gave thanks for the gift of life, for the gift of faith and for my vocation in Mercy. It was an Alleluia week for sure as I recommited myself to the motto inscribed in my profession ring.."Living for God in Christ Jesus".Rm.6:11.
May you also carve some special time during this Easter season to celebrate your life in the Resurrected Christ.

      The faith formation  year is quickly winding down.  Many of you are engaged in First Communions and Confirmations....celebrations of intitiaon for our young church members and oppportunities for the parish faithful to renew their baprismal commitment.  Good luck with all of that. May they go well. Faith Formation classes have or will soon end for all of you. It is a time to celebrate all the good that has been, evaluate what can be done better next year and give yourself some breathing space before planning for 2011-2012.

On Wednesday, June 1, we invite all of  you to a few hours of celebration and appreciation...our annual get together will be at Sacred Heart Retreat Center from 3:30PM to 7:30PM.  Notice the time change. We are trying to accommodate more of you that have commitments earlier in the day. Denise Morency Gannon will give a presentation on liturgy, we will share a nice meal preceded by our usual social, and we will conclude with the celebration of the Vigil of Ascension Thursday Eucharist presided by Fr. Stan. Please plan to join us for this end of the year gathering. If you cannot get there until 4 or 5 come anyway...we would love to see you. The flyer will be sent to you this week.

Since my last posting  twenty one of us gathered at LaSalette Retreat Center for a Lenten Day of Reflection with Dorothy Levesque. Rain kept us indoors but the flow of the day was very engaging and inspiration with time for reflection, sharing, prayer, reconnecting.

                     A longer retreat is planned for 2012...put it on your calendar now and plan to join us at Miramar Retreat Center in Duxbury from Tues., May 29, 10Am to   to Thursday, May 31 , 11 AM (6 meals-private room with bath-wonderful grounds- $150). Retreat Leader: Sister Dorothy Welch, SCJ. Times of silent reflection but no silence at meals.


Please note a couple of webinars that you may find helpful for your ministry.:
Practice Makes Catholic” - Wednesday, May 11 at  8:00-9:00pm (EDT)
Join Joe Paprocki who will facilitate this complimentary webinar on “15 Ways to Make Your Religion Class More Catholic.” Catholicism is a unique way of seeing. As catechists and religion teachers, we impart this way of seeing to others.

In this Webinar, Joe Paprocki, DMin, will draw from his new book, Practice Makes Catholic: Moving from a Learned Faith to a Lived Faith to unpack these unique characteristics of Catholic identity and will show how catechists and religion teachers can integrate practical ideas in their classes to make them more "Catholic."

Joe Paprocki, is an author, a speaker, and a fourth-grade catechist in the Archdiocese of Chicago with over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry. Joe, national consultant for faith formation at Loyola Press, is the author of numerous books, including the best-selling The Catechist's Toolbox: How to Thrive As a Religion Education Teacher  and Well-Built Faith: A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe. A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe He is also the host of the blog Catechist's Journey. Click to Register 

Please note that Joe Paprocki will be giving a workshop at St. Joseph's, Fairhaven on Wednesday, June 8th, from 10AM to 1:30PM . No Cost and lunch is included. Margie Copeland is inviting all Parish catechetical leaders to attend this session. Another session for catechists is being planned for the evening. More details coming. Our staff will be at a New England meeting of diocesan directors and unfortunately will not be able to attend but I highly recommend those who are able to attend.

Another free webinar that will have some interesting statistics on parishes today is:
FREE Professional Development Webinar –  Tuesday, May 17
In partnership with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership and the National Association for Lay Ministry, Ave Maria Press is pleased to present The Changing Face of Catholic Parishes on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT. This free, live webinar, is presented by the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project.
According to the first major comprehensive study of Catholic parish life in nearly 30 years, changes are occurring that are impacting the shape of pastoral leadership, ministry, and sacramental life. The research, conducted by CARA, is part of the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project with funding from the Lilly Endowment. The webinar will describe the nature of the research and present the data most likely to affect pastoral leaders as they seek to remain relevant and effective in their respective roles. The presentation will draw on the first phase of research including survey responses from 850 randomly selected parishes in the United States. You can register at  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring-"Iam doing something new. Do you not perceive it?" Is.43:19

Happy Spring to you all!  I know it may be snowing but believe...spring is coming. Do you not perceive it?

It has been a few weeks since my last blog. I need to get better at this technology and faithfully keep you updated each week.

We had a tremendous crowd of  440 at the Roman Missal training in Taunton on March 5th. Bishop Coleman expressed his gratitude to those present for giving up a Saturday to take part in this important training. Msgr. Maroney was a tremendously interesting presenter and I remind you that more resources can be found on his blog: . There are many websites to check out. Here are a few:  and and and

The Fall River Deanery had a meeting in March for all pastors, deacons, and catechetical leaders. It was very well attended.St. Michael's parish hosted and provided the delicious meal. Claire McManus led us in a process to see what could be done more collaboratively as we explored the situation of evangelization of those families not really well connected to the life of the parish. Claire has created a blog for the Fall River parishes to followup to the meeting: 

On the first Sunday of Lent we celebrated the Rite of Election at the Cathedral with 37 catechumens and 43 candidates for full communion. This represents only 26% of the parishes in the Diocese.  I ask you all to examine when was the last time your parish welcomed new members at the Easter Vigil? If you do not have an RCIA team in place then the chances of that happening are low.  I encourage you as the catechetical leader in your parish to advocate for creating a true RCIA process (not program) if it does not already exist in your parish. The Office of Faith Formation can help you to achieve this.

Are you registered for the Lenten day of retreat on Wednesday, April 13, at LaSalette Retreat Center? Come apart and pray with your friends in this catechetical ministry. We need to give ourselves this gift. Dorothy Levesque , on staff at the Center, will be leading us. Those of you who are free during the day please plan to be with us and those of you who can take a day off or rearrange your schedule please try to do so.  You can access the flyer on our website and call in to register. Hope to see you there.

HAPPY SPRING!   But don't put those boots away just yet.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Back from the Holy Land

Holy Land
Well here it is almost February and this is only my second blog.  Thank you to those who have signed up as followers. Hopefully we will get the rest of the catechetical leaders to come aboard. Since my last entry I have spent 10 glorious days in the Holy Land. It was a pilgrimage of about 30 Christian women led by 2 Sisters of St. Joseph, Marianne Race and Pat Kozak,  and by Carolyn Ostiek, a religious of the Sacred Heart, who taught New Testament for  years at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Marianne has been leading these pilgrimages twice a year for many years and Pat has joined her for the past few years. They were a marvelous trio blending their gifts of reflection, leading prayer, Biblical scholarship and keeping us from getting lost.  I highly recommend for those who can afford the time and money to consider a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. My only regret is that I did not do it years ago. The Scriptures come alive in a new way and the connection to the person of Jesus, the Jew, from Nazareth who walked this very land is deepened to a degree that I find hard to explain. It is an ongoing spiritual experience. Many ask me if I felt safe. Yes, I never felt unsafe or anxious about violence. Situations can change quickly in any country but at some point there has to be a sense of trust. Marianne, Pat, and Lyn will be leading another pilgrimage in Oct. of 2011 and again in March of 2012. If anyone woman wants information on these Holy Land experiences just contact me.

Roots of Faith
Unfortunately we had to cancel the classes scheduled at OL of Mt. Carmel in Seekonk on Catholic Morality and Liturgy and Sacreaments. This is the first time we have had to do this but then again this winter has been a challenge for most of us.  We are open to hearing how we can best meet the needs of those adults who are seeking theological backgrounds. Evening classes might not be the best way for some areas.
For those of  you on Cape Cod please get the word out on the Root of Faith sessions being held in So. Yarmouth on 4 Wednesdays, beginning Mar.23 and ending April 13th.  Since it is Lent perhaps people will be drawn to make the extra effort. Fr, Powell and Fr. Deston are the instructors. Always check our website if you need more information.

Faith Formation Convention on Nov. 5, 2011
This  year we were due to return to the Fall River/New Beford area for our convention site. However, we were not able to find a locatioin that would meet our needs. Therefore, we have booked the Taunton Inn (formerly called Holiday INN) in Taunton - off 495. Many of you have been there for other events we have sponsored.  Out theme is Evangelization and we have secured a keynote speaker which we will announce shortly. We were very pleased with the results of our convention last year on Cape Cod. May this year  be as good if not better.

New England Convocation for Catechetical Leaders
Every other year the New England Diocesan Directors sponsor a 2 day pre-conference on the RCIA and a 3 day conference on catechetics.  This year for the first time the 3 day conference will be over a weekend. Starting on Friday at noon and ending Sunday at noon. Hopefully this will allow those of you have other jobs to participate in some or all of the conference. The dates are August4-5 for the pre-conference on the RCIA. One of the tracks is on the RCIA adapted for children which I discovered is an area of much confusion in this diocese.  The conference on Evangelizing Catechesis if from Aug. 5 through the 7th.  As always the site is the Mariott Hotel in Springfield, MA. National speakers are brought in for these presentations and there is a complete track in Spanish for all the workshops. In 2009 there were a few of us from the Fall River Diocese in attendance but it would be great if we could entice a few more of you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn and bond with other catechetical leaders from all over New England. Check our website for more info.

Roman Missal
By now you should all have marked on your calendar, Saturday, March 5th. Go check and be sure it is there. Msgr. Moroney wil be leading us in a day long (10-3) workshop at the Taunton Inn on the upcoming changes in the Missal. As leaders we do need to know what is coming and how best to respond to these changes catechetically for our children and adults. There is a $25 reg. fee because of the meal but of course the parish should be paying for the fee of those attending.

Marriage Ministry
Michelle Ducharme decided at the end of Dec. to leave the Office of Faith Formation as she discerns what is  next for her. She  has been involved in the Office of Marriage Ministry for many years and had been here with us since the transition last July. Rosemary and Crystal will be assuming Michelle duties. Claire continues as the overall director of Marriage Ministry and as you might know Rosemary has begun to oversee the Bereavemnet Ministry.

That's it for now.  Keep warm and safe....Enjoy the snow if you can.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas, New Year's, Epiphany, Ordinary Time

Dear Followers,

      We are soon ending the Advent Season and before we know it the Christmas Season will have come and gone and Ordinary Time will be here again.  Let's  not miss the beauty of the Christmas Season.  For many of us it is a time away from the office and from faith formation classes. A time to celebrate with family and friends. A time to share the joy of our faith with all those we meet. Have a Merry Christmas!

      From Jan. 6 to the 16th I will be making retreat in the Holy Land. I carry all of you and your intentions with  me. Please remember me in prayer as well. It is a once in a lifetime experience.

      We will not have an Epiphany Retreat this year as we have had the past two years.  However, we will have a Lenten Retreat Day on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at LaSalette Retreat Center in Attleboro. Dorothy Levesque will lead us in this day from 10:00 (arrival at 9:30) to 2:30PM.  Mark it on your calendar now and plan to be with us. This will be open to all ministers in the parish. Fee is $30.

    I hope when I return on Jan. 18 that I will have many more followers on this blog. Until then...keep smiling.