While the beginning of a new catechetical school year may bring jitters, Margaret Zola, parish catechetical leader of Sts. Francis and Clare Parish, Roebling, and St. Mary Parish, Bordentown, says enthusiastically that she is “looking forward to getting started.”

The Columbus resident, who became PCL in St. Mary Parish in September 2016 after serving as a religious education instructor for eight years, will also head the program in Roebling this year.

As recommended by Faith in Our Future, the two Burlington County parishes are currently linked and will be merged no later than July 2018.

“While our parishes are not officially merged until next year, the timing was right to begin merging the religious education programs,” Zola explained.

With the blessing of Father Joseph Hlubik, who is pastor in both parishes, it was decided the programs would combine this year.

“By combining the programs, we’re really offering our parishioners more options. The parents have been pleased and understand that they have more options to choose from by offering the programs at both churches,” she said.

This year, the almost 500 children who attend religious education classes in Sts. Francis and Clare and St. Mary Parishes will have the opportunity to select their class times and locations at either parish campus.

Both parishes will utilize the same books and resources, while meetings, retreat days and the celebration of the Sacraments will be at St. Mary Parish.

“I am looking forward to seeing how the children and the teachers will learn from each other and enlighten each other,” she shared. “We are bringing our parish families and communities closer together.”

This idea of providing more opportunities for faith development and bringing the communities together was in the forefront of Zola’s mind when calendars and schedules were completed.

“We’re really broadening the program and are serving families from Florence, Roebling, Bordentown, Columbus, Chesterfield and Hamilton Township,” she reflected. “It really is pretty amazing.”

~ By Rose Connor, correspondent