Changes on the Horizon for Religious Education Recognition

Article excerpt

A redesigned Religious Educational Excellence Award will be presented to a parish catechetical leader who exemplifies excellence in catechesis

In his apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (1979), Pope John Paul II declared that parishes have

the serious duty to train people completely dedicated to providing catechef/ca/ leadership (priests,! men and women religious, and fay people), to provide the equipment needed for catechesis under all aspects, to increase and adapt the places for catechesis to the extent that it is possible and useful to do so, and to be watchful about the quality of the religious formation of the various groups and their integration into the ecclesial community. " (CT 67)

The "General Directory for Catechesis" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997) and the "National Directory for Catechesis" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005) also stress the importance of a professional catechetical leader in every parish. The General Directory points to the role of the bishops in that "he ensure effective priority for an active and fruitful catechesis in his Church 'putting into operation the necessary personnel, means and equipment, and also financial resource.'" (GDC 223).

The National Directory further expands this role to the parish, stating, "The single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the leadership of a professionally trained parish catechetical leader." (NDC 54B5) The National Directory goes on to discuss the importance of allocating resources "so that they are able to acquire the services of a competent and qualified catechetical leader."

The catechetical leader holds a vital position within the parish in the life of faith for children and their families. There may be hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of children in a parish community who are in need of catechetical formation. Directors of faith formation are responsible for all of the details inherent in establishing, directing and supervising programs that will help young people and their families develop and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ as well as to teach them the essence of the Catholic faith.

Each year, we celebrate excellence with Oscar, Tony, AMA, MVP, Emmy, Golden Globe, Cy Young, Nobel and Pulitzer awards, not to mention recognitions for best actor, best movie, best actress, best producer, song of the year, record of the year, album of the year, athlete of the year and on and on and on. Those who win awards are acknowledged as among the best in their fields. They deserve recognition for their achievements, hard work and commitment to their craft. Awards acknowledge accomplishments and provide an opportunity to distinguish the winner as a model to be emulated. They also encourage the awardee to continue to pursue that same standard of excellence in her or his continued work.

The NPCD has a history of recognizing its members for excellence as catechetical leaders in their parish.

The executive committee of the NPCD initially created the "DRE of the Month" column in Today's Parish magazine. In 1992, that column became known as the Religious Educational Excellence Award and featured a recipient of the award in each issue. The Religious Educational Excellence Award has been given to a catechetical leader or leaders who offered new ideas or unique approaches that improved the quality of parish programs.

To encourage parental participation and leadership in the church's religious educational efforts, the Mustard Seed Award was developed in cooperation with the executive committee of the former National Conference of Diocesan Religious Educators, which now is part of the Department of Chief Administrators of Catholic Education. That award has been presented annually to a parish or parishes that exemplify programs of parental involvement.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Religious Educational Excellence Award (REEA) in 2012, we are taking the opportunity to redesign both the REEA and the Mustard Seed awards. …