Parishes around the Diocese are looking forward to the start of a new catechetical year on Sept. 18, which this year is observed as Catechetical Sunday. That day will also mark a milestone in the ministry experiences for six women as they begin new assignments serving as parish catechetical leaders.

Michelle Abi-Yaghi

St. Joseph Parish, Toms River


EDUCATION: New York University, Master’s of Public Administration, New York University, New York, N.Y.; Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Political Science, St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind. 

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Spanish High Proficiency Certificate, Maryknoll Instituto de Idiomas, Cochabamba, Bolivia

RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Coordination of 1,200-student Summer Religious Education Academy and monthly continual education activities; Coordination of monthly sacramental preparation for religious education students

PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Holy Cross Congregation, Santiago, Chile, 4 years; St. Joseph Parish, Greenwich Village, New York City, 3 years; Archdiocese of New York, 3 years; St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, 6 years

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE:  Using our individual gifts and talents He gave us, it is a true blessing to work directly with God for the sanctification of souls.


Nancy Arkin

St. Benedict, Holmdel

PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Benedict, Holmdel

EDUCATION: St. John’s University, Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., Bachelor of Arts in French with a minor in Secondary Education; Master of Arts in Theology with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio 

RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Children’s Religious Education and Family Catechesis, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults/Adult Confirmation Preparation, Adult Faith Formation (Bible Study, etc.) 

PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Director of Faith Formation in Sacred Heart & St. Stephen Parish, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Director of Adult Faith Formation, Most Precious Blood Parish, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Director of Religious Education/Parish Renewal, St. Patrick Parish, Brooklyn, N.Y.

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: With all the noise and confusion in the world today, it is more and more difficult to hear and embrace the Good News of Jesus Christ, for young and older alike. Yet it’s exactly the medicine we need and what will bring us true joy, peace and ultimately the glory of eternal life with Him. St. Paul reminds us that “faith comes through hearing,” (Rom. 10:17) and so the gift of the “great commission” has been given to us, to proclaim that Good News “until the whole world hears.”


Katie Bodnar

St. Denis Parish, Manasquan


EDUCATION: The College of New Jersey, Ewing, Bachelor of Science, Law & Justice and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; University of Notre Dame Law School, South Bend, Ind., Juris Doctor

RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: I will be overseeing religious education for Grades 1-8

PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: This is my first role as a catechetical leader. I formerly took on a part-time role as a secretary in the religious education office at St. Denis.  I’ve also served as a catechist in the program for 5 years

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: Serving in this ministry is an amazing opportunity to play a small part in passing on the beautiful story of our faith to the next generation as they grow in their relationship with God. I’m very excited to be able to serve the families of St. Denis in this role!


Sister Maria Gloria Cunha

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood

PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: Christ the King Parish, Long Branch

EDUCATION: University of Farias Brito, Sao Paulo, Brazil, School of Education; Bachelor’s degree in School of Administration, Teacher of Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Rider University, Lawrenceville, Elementary Education (Grades K–8) and Bilingual Education (Spanish- English-Portuguese)

RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Be responsible for religious education needs of the parish that includes planning, implementing and evaluating the parish catechetical program; Oversee the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults processes for both adults and youth; Coordinate intergenerational family catechesis; Initiate new adult catechesis classes for parents

PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: The former Christ the Redeemer Parish, Mount Holly, 17 years; the former St. John the Baptist Parish, Long Branch, 12 years; Christ the King  Parish, Long Branch

 WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: I am only answering the Lord’s Call to serve in this community.  I made a promise to the Lord that I would not say no to his request. I have to say to him every single day that, “I did not say no. Now you do your part and come to my aid.”  I remind him every day that I am here, and I put all the students, families, catechists and staff in his care.  It is important that we are educating the future of the Church. 


Laura Sarubbi

St. Paul Parish, Princeton


EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and a Master of Arts in Child Development

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: NJ Certificate of Eligibility: P-3; Currently pursuing Villanova University’s course work for a Certificate in Catholic School Management

RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Religious Ed only, which includes classes, sacramental preparation, Children’s Liturgy of the Word, Youth Ministry

PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: St. Paul Parish, Princeton, 7 years, serving as a religious education catechist for grades 3 and 5; Catholic school teacher for grades 2, 6, 7 and 8. (Teaching included second and sixth grade religion, sacramental prep); St. Cyril and Methodius Parish in the Archdiocese of N.Y., first grade catechist, 5 years

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: To whom much is given, much is expected. I can’t think of a better way to make a difference in the world than to teach the youngest among us to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”


Stacey Ann Schear

St. Veronica Parish, Howell


EDUCATION: Thomas Edison State University, Trenton, Bachelor of Arts in Religion; Pursing a Master of Arts degree in Catholic Studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Completed he Diocese of Trenton’s two-year Parish Catechetical Leadership program, two-year Pastoral Care program;  three-session Adult Faith Formation program; Two-part Certificate in Catechesis program  

RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Religious Education Program Management for Children; Sacramental Program Management (First Eucharist, First Penance and Confirmation for religious education students; Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults processes for children and for adults; Supervise Youth Ministry Program; Faith Formation Program Planning, Vision and Evaluation; Develop faith formation support systems within the community -Intergenerational evangelization and catechesis; Organizing Bible Study programs and retreats; Formation of catechists and other religious education volunteers 

PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, served as catechist for 6 years in providing religious instruction of all grades including working in Sacramental Prep and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults; Spiritual Advisor to the parish’s St. Vincent DePaul Conference for 4 years; volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul conference for 9 years; served as extraordinary minister of Holy Communion to the homebound

WHY SERVING IN MNISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: It is my calling as both important and worthwhile to spread the Gospel message to everyone.  Catholics need to be properly formed to participate in the Church and to understand how to best live their faith.