January 28, 2005

2005 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Catechetical leader in New Albany Deanery
makes collaborative efforts

By Karen Oddi
Special to The Criterion

Christina Flum moved from the diocese of Erie, Pa., last summer to assume the position of director of Catechetical Ministry at the Aquinas Center in Clarksville.

Flum knew that she would be building upon a rich and well-established catechetical ministry in the New Albany Deanery, one that had earned the respect of educational and pastoral leaders throughout the archdiocese.

Being very much a “people person,” she quickly came to know and work with the parish administrators of religious education in the 19 parishes that make up the deanery.

The annual August conference for educational administrators provided not only the opportunity to see what a collaborative group the New Albany catechetical leaders are, but also to meet administrators from other deaneries.

Since the Aquinas Center is part of the complex of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville, Flum could envision many possibilities for linking the work of the center with the high school.

Over the years, the center itself has been a fine resource for adult education and catechist formation, providing the entire deanery with the latest in faith formation materials and opportunities for spiritual growth and enrichment.

Through some reorganization of materials with the help of an administrative assistant, Connie Sandlin, the theology teachers at the high school are now making use of the resources in their lesson planning.

Flum is working with Joan Hurley, Providence High School president, and Ray Lucas, deanery director of Youth Ministry, to set up evenings for youth with guest speakers on a variety of topics.

She also does a “walking around” ministry with the high school students, dropping by at lunch and inviting them to take advantage of what the Aquinas Center has to offer. In addition, the center is sponsoring “Faith Rocks,” a bimonthly program for youth at St. Michael Parish in Bradford in Harrison County, the western part of the deanery.

Recently, Flum was the guest speaker, on the topic of teenage pregnancy, for an eighth-grade social studies class at Holy Family School in New Albany.

She is also working with several school principals to plan a program for teachers on student discipline. In addition, she is working toward correlating the resources of the deanery center with the elementary and high school standards-based religion curricula.

“I want to make it easy for teachers and catechists to find good audio-visual and other materials that will enhance their lesson planning experience,” Flum said.

As part of the plan to make it easier to access resources, Flum and Sandlin have reorganized all the materials topically around the basic teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

As part of the plan to enhance the community’s awareness of the center, Flum held an open house in the fall.

She has many more plans for the future, including working to add a track for youth at the annual New Albany Deanery Parish Ministry Conference next September and being a member of the adult team for a deanery-sponsored senior retreat next month.

She is also facilitating the Protecting God’s Children sexual abuse awareness program that was recently mandated by the archdiocese for all employees and volunteers who have regular contact with children and youth.

With all that is going on in the deanery, Flum still makes time to enjoy the company of family and friends in both Cincinnati and back in Pennsylvania. She is also active in several professional organizations and is often called upon as a speaker outside the archdiocese.

For more information about the Aquinas Center, log on to www.aquinascenter.org.

(Karen Oddi is evangelization coordinator and associate director of faith ­formation for the archdiocese.) †


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