RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC
This is the first in a series about education during the pandemic. The following is an excerpt from an article by Sr. Teresita Morse, RJM and you’ll want to read the full article which is attached to the Bridges email.
CATECHETICAL OFFICE, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK
In March, when the pandemic came crashing upon us, closing down our parishes along with all the social systems within which we live our lives, religious education should also have collapsed. But it did not – it did not even drag itself along whimpering!!! Thanks to the great men and women (mostly women), the outstanding priests, religious and laity (mostly laity), it rose up as a strength and a steady light in the parishes. Overnight it changed its look, adjusted its style and kept hold of its families.
The Catechetic Office is led by Director, Sr. Joan Curtin, CND (second row with white blouse). Sr. Teresita Morse, RJM is in the white blouse in front.
There was no time to ponder, form committees, wonder which approaches would be best. There was only the call to action, the urgent demand to mobilize what resources each parish had, the need to center oneself on the Lord’s Call – the rapid movement forward bringing the Word of the Lord to the children and youth while trusting the Holy Spirit to amplify it richly and to pour its consolation and strength out upon the families.
All through the spring, the parish Directors/Coordinators of Religious Education and their Catechists continued to teach weekly sessions to the children/youth, using ZOOM, Google Meet, the parish website, email, regular phone calls and snail mail.
All the first Communions, traditionally scheduled for May, were creatively reorganized. Some were done in small family gatherings throughout the summer; some were done outside in wide-open parish areas; some used videos; some were rescheduled for early fall.
In April, to honor the heroic work of the first 85 parishes in the Archdiocese that transformed their programs into at-home and on-line Religious Education, and to encourage and inspire those parishes who were still struggling, the Catechetical Office wrote and published: Project Inspiration: Handing on the Faith with Excellence in a Time of Crisis.
Now the summer is over – what a roller-coaster ride with its high hopes for normalcy and its low sober realizations that, because of safety and “budget-busting” disinfecting requirements, Religious Education in most situations must be done virtually! Approximately 85% of programs will follow the various virtual models or at least a hybrid of onsite and at-home. Oct. 1st, is the opening date for Religious Education in New York.