Help For “New” Catechetical Leaders: Through the Year with the DRE

Back in the day, when I was a “baby” DRE (Director of Religious Education), I turned to a nifty book for help. It was written by Gail McKenna and it was titled Through the Year with the DRE: A Seasonal Guide for Christian Educators (Paulist Press). The book is long out of print, however, the idea stayed with me and inspired me to create a chart a few years ago outlining the “typical” responsibilities that a catechetical leader/DRE is faced with over the course of a year. I posted it a few years ago and I received great feedback and suggestions on how to flesh that out and make it more accurate.

Last year, I updated it and posted it again and once again received a great deal of positive feedback, especially from people who were just beginning their role as a catechetical leader or from DREs who just needed some help organizing their planning for the year (I just received a comment from someone on that post which made me think to re-post it for this year!). As we look forward to the beginning of another catechetical year, I’m happy to post it once again for your perusal. The items in italics are events that can happen at various times of the year depending on local schedules but I had to place them somewhere.

JANUARY
Evaluate & research catechetical textbook materials
Celebrate First Reconciliation
compile program statistics for Kennedy and Diocesan reports
Parish staff  & PPC meetings
Cluster/Regional meetings
Annual DRE retreat
Ongoing catechist formation
Lenten preparation meeting
Progress reports or conferences with parents
VBS planning
Create monthly lesson plans
Rite of Acceptance for First Eucharist candidates 
FEBRUARY
Begin recruitment of catechists for next year
Host parent meeting for First Communion
Arranging Lenten reconciliation services
Celebrate Rite of Election with RCIA
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Prepare budget for coming year
Planning with parish pastoral staff for coming year
Cluster/Regional meetings
Create monthly lesson plans
VBS planning
National catechetical gatherings
Ongoing catechist formation
 
MARCH
Interview/evaluate existing catechists
Continue recruitment of catechists for next year
Celebrate sacraments with RCIA
Sacramental Prep Retreats for Confirmation and 1st Eucharist
Evaluation of current year
Parish staff & PPC meetings
National catechetical gatherings
Lenten reconciliation services
Cluster/Regional meetings
Ongoing catechist formation
Create monthly lesson plans
VBS planning
Prep meeting for junior high mission trip
APRIL
Continue recruitment of catechists for next year
Celebrate sacraments with RCIA
Ongoing catechist formation
Sacramental Prep Retreats for Confirmation and 1st Eucharist
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Evaluation of current year
National catechetical gatherings
Charter for Protection Audit
Cluster/Regional meetings
VBS planning
Celebrate Confirmation
Create monthly lesson plans
Pre-registration for next year 
MAY
End of year meeting/celebration with/for catechists
Continue recruitment of catechists for next year
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Cluster/Regional meetings
Celebrate First Communion
Progress reports or conferences with parents
Create monthly lesson plans
VBS planning
Confirmation enrollment service
JUNE
Continue recruitment of catechists for next year
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Cluster/Regional meetings
Create monthly lesson plans
Vacation Bible School
Junior high mission trip
JULY
Order classroom supplies, materials, and textbooks for coming year
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Continue recruitment of catechists for next year’
Create monthly lesson plans
Summer catechist formation program
Vacation? Time for renewal
AUGUST
Last minute catechist recruitment
Host new catechist meeting
New catechist training
Grade level catechist planning meetings
Host returning catechists
Plan for Catechetical Sunday
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Send letter to parents about RE program dates, etc.
Summer catechist formation program
Create monthly lesson plans
Registration of students
SEPTEMBER
Last-minute catechist recruitment
Catechetical Sunday (3rd Sunday)
Host parent meeting for all parents
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Registration of students
Cluster/Regional meetings
Sessions begin
Catechist training and formation
Create monthly lesson plans
Beginning of the Year Family Masses
Initial meeting for First Eucharist/Reconciliation families
OCTOBER
Host confirmation parents and sponsors meeting
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Diocesan catechetical conference
Create monthly lesson plans
Cluster/Regional meetings
Ongoing catechist formation
NOVEMBER
Host parent meeting for First Reconciliation
Celebrate Rite of Welcoming with RCIA
Create monthly lesson plans
Cluster/Regional meetings
Diocesan catechetical conference
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Ongoing catechist formation
DECEMBER
Host Christmas celebration/appreciation party for catechists
Parish staff & PPC meetings
Cluster/Regional meetings
Create monthly lesson plans
Ongoing catechist formation

This may also be helpful for those of you in catechetical leader positions or diocesan positions who need to flesh out a job description for the role of catechetical leader. Here is the chart in a Word file for those of you who might be looking to adapt this to your local situation. A “Typical” Year in the Life of a DRE

God bless you folks for keeping all these plates spinning at the same time!!!

About Joe Paprocki 2134 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. He has more than 30 years of experience in ministry and has taught at many different levels. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Catechist’s Toolbox and Under the Influence of Jesus.

2 Comments on Help For “New” Catechetical Leaders: Through the Year with the DRE

  1. Joe, can you flesh out more about what you mean “create monthly lesson plans”?
    Who is doing it and do you have guidelines or more specifics about this item?
    I do the calendar for my catechists, but I have not written their lesson plans for them.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Barb, I never did this as a DRE either however I do know of some parishes where the catechetical leader(s) develop lesson plans for their catechists. I included everything I could think of in this outline however I know of no one who does ALL of the things listed. If there’s someone out there who can speak to the issue of catechetical leaders providing lesson plans for their catechists, please share your experience!

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