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Do not look forward with anxiety about the future for the changes in your life…

1 Jul

Do not look forward with anxiety about the future for the changes in your life; rather look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you  safely through all things. 

When you cannot stand change, God will carry you in His arms. 

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cared for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day of your life. 

God will either shield you from difficulties and adversities, or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. 

Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

~St. Francis de Sales


If Nothing Ever Changed – There’d Be No Butterflies

30 Jun
For the past 20 plus years I have worked side by side with many amazing teachers and priests, becoming certified first as a religion teacher, thereafter having been appointed as Coordinator of Religious Education for the past 12 years.   And in doing this, I have given my heart and soul to our little parish.  It was a real privilege and a joy all of these years to interact and teach, then the honor of coordinating the program. 
And so it is with an extremely heavy heart, much thought and a lot of on-my- knees prayer and sleepless nights that I made an appointment today in order to talk with our pastor.  It was a hard decision for me and one that I did not come upon easily.  In fact, being CRE for the parish has been a huge part of my life; it was also my spiritual vocation, for all these years. 
Until recently, I have been able to fulfill the position of CRE and felt that our program was really vibrant, active and successful.  Year before last we had 75 children attending religious education in our parish. Our teachers and students have helped out at our church fair, we have had a Living Rosary, Food Drive for the Needy at Thanksgiving time, responded to tragedies with prayer and donations, celebrated Masses and para-liturgies throughout the year, sponsored Social Justice Projects, have Christmas and Easter Pageants as well as the required 30 + hours of religious educational instructional time.  
This past year, we moved religious education classes to Saturdays, hoping to accommodate teachers and hopefully attracting more parents to be involved with their children.  Unfortunately, this did not work out because a lot of parents felt that week-ends were family time and they were busy.  So we moved religious education back to one night a week and, for the parents and some of the teachers, that worked out better.   Our Confirmation classes were changed too from the three past years.  We joined with St. John Bosco Parish and our parish’s students attended a two week-end retreat prior to the sacrament.
Within the past year, it has been difficult for me to be effective as St. Rosalie’s CRE.  So that is why I know that now is the right time to pass on the responsibilities and duties to someone who would be more suited for the position to better be able to do all that this job entails. 
Today, I had my meeting with our pastor.  It was a good one and I feel so much  better having done so. 
There’s a myriad of reasons I have decided to hand over the reigns to someone else.  It came about moreso because this past year was a time of deep reflection. What was good yesterday may not be what is good today or what will be good tomorrow.  It was also a time of great loss. 
For many of us, 2010 was a hellish year.   I’d delayed the decision to discontinue my volunteer position as CRE until now because it tormented me to even think about giving up one more important part of my life.  And those children we minister to were and are my first and tantamount concern.
My husband retired in February of this year to take care of his Mom since his Dad died last May.  Our beloved pastor also died in June after having succumbed to a brief and tragic illness.  This was followed by the unexpected death of my wonderful mother in October after heart bypass surgery.    The voids created by these wonderful people broke our hearts, but we continued on because our dearly departed pastor and my mother, who was very involved in church ministry would have wanted us to do so. 
Another factor that influenced my decision was that my primary care physician has been advising me since last year to give up being CRE because of a chronic health condition.    Also, because I work a full time job, our evenings are normally spent taking care of my mother-in-law who now lives with my husband and me.  She has Alzheimers’ Disease, had neck surgery in February, but is having increased loss of sensation in her hands and legs and other parts of her body since the surgery was not successful.  She receives therapy and has a nurse’s assistant that come to our home sporadically, but her health is progressively getting worse. 
I don’t want to leave our pastor or the person taking the position out in the cold.  So I have offered to help with the transition as there is a lot that goes into the position of CRE.   By the end of next month, our parish has normally had registration for elementary – junior high (K-8), registering and helping to teach at the High School of Religion and a coordinating a separate program for our Junior Year Confirmation students. 
With that is the collecting of registration fees, setting up a database with student information and ordering books prior to school starting in September.  We usually start right after Labor Day.
Also really important is the recruitment of new teachers.  Teachers who taught K, 2, 7th, and 8th grade are not returning this year.  I’ve gotten the okay from a couple of teachers who will be returning but we are in need of new teachers who are qualified, especially important is the need for a qualified and loving 2nd grade First Reconciliation and First Holy Eucharist sacrament teacher.  I am still waiting to hear from the remaining teachers as to whether or not they will return to teach this coming year.
A CRE should also have attended religious education certification classes or be currently seeking certification as a religious education teacher and/or CRE/DRE through the Archdiocese, so this might factor into a person our pastor will consider as my replacement.
Some of the duties of CRE include setting up a database with contact information, compiling the yearly calendar, typing, copying and disseminating notifications, coordinating the curriculum, keeping an ongoing correspondence with students, their parents and the pastor, prayer with the children each week prior to each class, conducting Child Protection Catechesis each year, submitting paperwork to the Archdiocese, handling disciplinary problems as they occur, holding  conferences, shuffling teachers and coordinating assistants when teacher might have a family emergency that occurs.  There’s a lot more to this position than meets the eye.  It’s often those unexpected things that happen, such as comforting a sad child when she loses a sister or trying to figure out what it is that causes a child to act out and soothe that anger.   These unexpected things need to be handled each and every week; so the CRE should be there the entire time in order to be able to take care of whatever might occur. 
I wanted to  let our parish priest know now, so that he would have time before school starts to find a replacement.  I offered to meet with the person our pastor will choose and go over his or her responsibilities, offering also do this during the next two months; July and August.  If the new CRE  needs someone who has been trained for Child Protection Catechesis, my sister and I can help with that.  The CPC classes are age and grade specific so each of the teachers have to be trained.  Usually the Archdiocese has a class for new people that they’re mandated to attend.  These classes are normally taught to the children in October.
More importantly in my eyes, the person chosen as the new CRE should be one who genuinely loves the children, has their best interests at heart and one whom they would feel close enough to and be able to confide in at any time.  I feel so strongly about this factor, that the position should not merely be administrative, but motherly or fatherly, or in my case, grandmotherly.
Again, this was and still is such a huge part of who I am.  It almost feels like another death.  But the difference is that with faith, as in death, there is new life that follows.
God will prayerfully lead me in the way that I should go because, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”  ~Author Unknown

With much love and many prayers for those who might happen upon this blog.  Please pray for me too.


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30 Jun

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