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Catechetical leaders are administrators and have a responsibility to be professional. They are required to develop the organizational and catechetical skills necessary for the positions of director of religious education (DRE) and program coordinator for specific areas of religious education (CRE). The Office of Religious Education provides a DRE/CRE training course on an ongoing basis in each pastoral region. To enroll in this course contact the Office of Religious Education's regional coordinator in your pastoral region:

Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region

San Fernando Pastoral Region

San Gabriel Pastoral Region

San Pedro Pastoral Region

Santa Barbara Pastoral Region

4.2.3.1 Starting a Program

Setting Goals and Objectives

To establish program goals, the DRE/CRE and collaborators must first do a complete needs assessment that begins with information gathering from the catechists, parents/guardians, aides, and helpers already within the program. This could be done formally with a process or informally with small gatherings or one-on-one interviews.

Only a few goals should be chosen for the year. These should be of the highest priority for the parish program. Once the goals are set, practical input should be gleaned from the staff or board for objectives that would address these specific goals.

At the end of the year (or at the end of the stipulated period), there should be an evaluation of the goals and objectives. Even if they were not successful, executing goals and objectives are steps toward achieving good management. It is important to understand why goals or objectives did not succeed. Perhaps they were not really realistic with the resources available in the parish. After the evaluation, new goals should be set. Even if goals were already achieved, they might be appropriate as ongoing goals (e.g., building community might be an ongoing goal in any parish program with new objectives each year).

Collaboration

Knowing the reality of the parish is necessary before any collaboration is possible. A parish profile would offer an objective picture of the parish. Portions of the profile are available from many places, such as the rectory, school, parish religious education office, and perhaps other sources.

Once the profile is completed, reflect on the following areas:

  • Who do I work with in the parish at large? (e.g., Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, and Women's Council)

  • How do I work with the Parish Council? (e.g., budgeting, reporting and dialogue, and sharing the vision of catechesis)

  • How do I work with the ordained and non-ordained parish staff? (e.g., youth ministers, school principal, pastor/associates, and parish secretary)

  • How do I work with the religious education staff and volunteers, DRE/CRE, office secretary, catechists, and families?

  • To whom am I accountable and how often do I meet with this person? How am I evaluated?

  • How do I work with the archdiocesan offices and their representatives?

Use of Parish Facilities

The parish community is made up of many groupings, and since it is one parish family, all should have access to the parish plant, including classrooms, the hall, etc. To facilitate the use of these areas, ongoing communication, planning, and collaboration need to take place among the principal, the DRE/CRE, and other leaders. In this way, a spirit of mutual support is fostered within the entire parish community.

The following suggestions might be helpful in parish planning:

  • Sharing a common vision of religious education for the school and parish

  • Collaboration, planning, and implementation of plans

  • Knowledge of and mutual respect for each other's needs and programs

  • Coordination of calendars and events

Recruiting and Sustaining Volunteers

Each DRE/CRE should make himself or herself known and available. Encourage volunteers to assist in the recruiting process. To match volunteers to tasks, it is important for the DRE/CRE to know what talents and skills are needed to perform the various positions within the program.

Sustaining volunteers should include the following:

In-Service Training

There are two basic formal means of continued education for catechists: the catechist enrichment programs offered at the parish level and the catechist formation program, congresses, and workshops offered by the archdiocese. Ongoing in-service training should consist of spiritual formation and practical catechetical methodology.

Motivation

When working with volunteers, motivation is essential to their continuing in the program. The seasons of the year offer an excellent opportunity for motivation. To show appreciation for the volunteers, something as simple as giving a holiday card or having coffee and snacks available in the office will make them feel at home and needed.

Evaluation

Volunteers need to be aware of the description and guidelines for the program or task to be performed. Volunteers need to know the long-term goals and immediate objectives of the program and their specific role during the year in achieving them. This should be covered by the DRE/CRE during orientation. The above must be done in order to have a valid evaluation at the end of the year.

Evaluation tools should be developed by the DRE/CRE for program evaluation, personal evaluation of volunteers, and administrative evaluation. Evaluations may take the form of questionnaires, interviews, or group discussions. After the evaluations are done there should be a recommitment to next year's program with adjustments for improvement.

4.2.3.2 Maintaining a Program

Calendar

A well-planned calendar prevents minor and major problems and frustrations. A yearly calendar should be set at least four months before the start of the program and the calendar should be revised and updated as needed.

Budgeting

Because parish income must take into account the needs of each sector of the parish, from parish school to youth ministry to senior citizens, finances must be fairly apportioned. The budget must be presented with foresight and accurate projection. Past experience, present need, and future vision should guide the DRE/CRE​ in drawing up the budget. All income and expenses should be recorded throughout the year.

Registration

Preparation for registration should be done in a timely manner and include dates, places, and deadlines.

Fees vary from parish to parish. The parish should take into consideration economic and family circumstances. No student should ever be denied enrollment because of inability to pay the fee.​


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