September 16, 2005

2005 Religious Education Supplement

Notre Dame students to serve as apprentices
to archdiocesan DREs

By Sean Gallagher

For the next two years, four young theology graduate students from the University of Notre Dame will be serving as apprentices to four of the most experienced parish administrators of religious education in the archdiocese.

During this period, they will continue to take classes at Notre Dame during the summer as well as online courses during the fall and spring semesters. At the same time, they will learn how to apply their theoretical knowledge in a real-life parish setting.

All of this will help the apprentices given them the skills and knowledge to become effective parish catechetical leaders and to discern whether or not God is calling them to this ministry.

These four young men and women are participants in Echo, a two-year service program in faith formation leadership administered by Notre Dame’s Center for Catechetical Initiative. As Echo is only in its second year, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is one of the first dioceses in the nation accepted to participate in it.

The name “Echo” was chosen because it is the literal English translation of the ancient Greek word “catechesis,” which early Christians used to described the task of teaching the faith.

The four parishes in which the apprentices are serving are Christ the King, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Mark in Indianapolis and St. Malachy in Brownsburg.

The primary reason that four parishes in the Indianapolis area were chosen is because the program requires the apprentices to live together in one place within 25 miles of the parish where they serve.

The apprentices will reside over the next two years in the rectory of Holy Trinity Parish in Indianapolis.

Kyle Bertoli will be serving at Christ the King Parish under its director of religious education, Cindy Flaten. A Knoxville, Tenn. native, Bertoli recently earned a bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame having majored in philosophy and minored in theology.

While he has participated and helped lead catechetical programs at Notre Dame, Bertoli is looking forward to learning how religious education is carried out in a parish setting.

“I kind of want to see how that works, what works, how to take on the knowledge that I’ve learned at Notre Dame and studies and cater it to different groups of people with different maturities or different backgrounds,” he said. “It really helps me bridge what I’ve done for the last four years with what goes on in the Church.”

Having been the only paid religious education staff member at Christ the King for many years, Flaten said she is looking forward to the help that Bertoli will offer her and the parish as a whole.

“After meeting Kyle and getting to know him, I have no reservations him a project,” she said. “I know it’s going to be taken care of. I feel fully confident in that.”

Although his education at Notre Dame has given him many gifts that he will bring to Christ the King, Bertoli looks to his prayer life as being a key to his ministry as an apprentice.

“Prayer is very important for me,” he said. “Our tradition is so rich in so many different types of prayer. And that is something that has become so important to me that I’m hoping to help people to develop that part of their faith.”

The two-year program is funded through a partnership among Notre Dame, the archdiocese as a whole, and the parishes where the apprentices will serve.

Harry Dudley, associate executive director for faith formation of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education, helped to bring Echo to the archdiocese. He appreciates how the participants’ schooling introduces them to the Church’s teaching documents on catechesis and is looking forward to the positive impact that their experience here will have on them.

“Our hope is that we will have young adults as passionate and as trained as the people we now have, who are older, and who will be committed to grow into this ministry,” Dudley said. “Already I have seen, as they have been exposed to the documents and understand what the Church expects, they really are excited about being part of this, especially since they are coming here during the year the new National Directory for Catechesis comes out.”

Both Dudley and the catechetical leaders who will serve as the apprentices’ mentors are especially excited about Echo because of what they see as a growing need for young, educated catechetical leaders.

“When we go to meetings, it’s a lot of older people that are there,” said Diane Burns, director of faith formation at St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg. “There aren’t a whole lot of young people, educated young people who have a background in catechetics.”

Rose Marie Beauclair, a native of Fargo, N.D. and a recent graduate of Notre Dame in its Program of Liberal Studies, will be serving under Burns. Like Bertoli, she has little experience in parish-based religious education.

Nevertheless, she looks to the strong foundation in faith that her family laid for her and her studies at Notre Dame as serving a good basis for her ministry at St. Malachy.

“Being the oldest of the six kids in my family, I’ve had experience in helping younger children learn and, as my family has grown up, in helping older children learn as well,” Beauclair said. “I also think that with my experience in the Program for Liberal Studies, I have learned how to listen as well as to talk in class and how to take turns in a dialogue or a discussion.

“And I think that’s helpful especially with adult ministries, because those ones aren’t especially talking at or explaining to, it’s discussing with.”

Standing at the start of her two-year ministry at St. Malachy, Beauclair is confident that her time as an apprentice in the parish will benefit her even if she does not end up becoming a professional parish administrator of religious education.

“I know that having the education and the training and the experience as a catechetical apprentice here at St. Malachy will be helpful for me even if what I do as an adult is on a volunteer basis,” she said. “I’ll be better able to educate the children or the adults that I would deal with in classes and my own children and my own friends and myself too.” †

(Correction note: Omitted from the list of parishes participating in the program was St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.)


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