Last week I announced that we’d be welcoming some new contributors to Catechist’s Journey. Today I’m happy to share with you who these new voices are and a little bit about each of them.
Joyce Donahue, MA, MPS, serves as Catechetical Associate in the Diocese of Joliet Religious Education Office. A former parish DRE and liturgy director, she currently volunteers as parish catechist and musician at St. John the Baptist Parish, Joliet, IL. She blogs at Liturgy and Catechesis Shall Kiss and maintains The Liturgical Catechist website.
When talking about how she got started in catechetical ministry, Joyce says, “My parish needed a catechist for my older son’s sixth-grade class. I had had three years experience teaching college students, so I thought I probably could do that. (I had no idea that God would turn this into a career!)”
Julianne Stanz is the Director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay and a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Catechesis and Evangelization. Julianne infuses her talks, retreats, and seminars with humor, passion, and insights from her life in Ireland. A popular speaker, storyteller, and author, Julianne is married with three children and spends her time reading, writing, teaching, and collecting beach glass.
The words of Mother Teresa come to mind when I think about “success” in relation to ministry: “We are called to faithfulness, not success.” I think what Mother Teresa is getting at here is that the greatest triumphs that we often have in ministry lie in patiently responding to people’s needs, in going the “extra mile,” in finding joy in the gifts that are given to us each day and in the blessings that catechetical work provides. While the world might not consider these to be successes, these are the ways that God uses us to be his instruments in the world. When I think of those that I have patiently guided and sometimes nudged to become more involved in their faith, whether it is by reading a good book, attending a great class, entering a lay ministry program, or answering their questions over a cup of tea, I find that I am warmed by the small successes that these encounters bring.
Denise Gorss is Web Editor at Loyola Press and a catechist with 15 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area.
My first experience in catechetical ministry was as a program aide when I was in my Confirmation year. When I graduated from college, I took on my first religious education classroom and have been teaching most years since then. I’ve worked with fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades and this year am working with a group of seventh graders. While I’ve had my challenges in the classroom, like any catechist, I’ve also been blessed to have those moments that make it worthwhile, too—witnessing the laughter, the surprises, the light bulb moments, and the deep questions.
Darcy Osby is Director of Religious Education at St. Bernard Parish in Pittsburgh, PA. She has been involved in a variety of parish catechetical programs for over 12 years and loves working in ministry professionally. Darcy holds bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and theology from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, as well as a Master of Divinity from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She and her husband enjoy exploring God’s creation through hiking, canoeing, and kayaking.
Darcy says, “I like to pinpoint my start in catechetical ministry to when I was in first grade and I wrote a book for my second-grade brother on how to make a good confession.” She continues:
The children are the reason I love my job and what God has called me to do. Their energy, enthusiasm, and faith are contagious. As they get older and raise tough questions, it is exciting to show them the Good News and how the love of God is working in their lives. It is exciting to watch them put their faith in action through service projects and their compassion for one another.
Eric Gurash is a former radio personality and 17-year convert to the Catholic faith who holds a B.Th from Newman Theological College in Edmonton, AB. He has been involved in full-time parish ministry for more than a decade. He is a certified spiritual director as well as a popular speaker, retreat leader, and storyteller. Eric has recently entered into formation for the permanent diaconate. Eric and his wife live with their two dogs in Regina, SK, Canada.
Eric says, “I love the entire process of introducing people to Jesus Christ and being a small part of these new relationships as they grow. I think it is how Andrew must have felt after introducing Peter to Jesus.”
Barb Gilman is a wife, mother, and third-grade Catholic school teacher. She is the winner of the 2014 NCEA Distinguished Teacher Award for the Plains States. Active on social media, @BarbinNebraska is the co-organizer of the #CatholicEdChat on Twitter.
Faith formation for my students is enriched by using the 21st-century tools that are available. My class can create, connect, and collaborate using these tools. If my class is putting together a skit to show the story of the Good Samaritan, we can quickly film it and share it on our Twitter account. With a click of a button, I can connect with a Twitter friend who can show my class a picture of the topic we are discussing. Logging on to Skype, I can connect with someone who has experience in a topic we aren’t familiar with. We can collaborate with other classrooms to suggest a daily Advent challenge for each other. My class is part of the New Evangelization both online and with their own families. Sometimes I think we are participating in a quiet evangelization, but I know our work is far-reaching, using the new tools available to us.
Lisa Jones is a third-grade catechist at her parish, St. Angela Merici in Missouri City, TX. She also serves her parish as the director of their Vacation Bible School program and as chairperson of the Faith Formation Council. Lisa blogs with her sister about faith and family life at Of Sound Mind and Spirit. She and her husband are the proud parents of three amazing kids.
And we also welcome your voice in the comments! Today, please introduce yourself so we can get to know you too.