Holmdel parishioner recognized for dedication to catechetical ministry
Ask Mary Mykityshyn about highlights of her work in catechetical ministry, and taking a collaborative approach to forming parishioners of all ages in the Catholic faith tops her list.
“Heading our program at St. Gabriel’s has been a privilege and joy,” said Mykityshyn of her work as parish catechetical leader in St. Gabriel Parish, Marlboro. “I work with a fabulous team, our catechists, parents, youth minister, my office team, our deacons and [our parish priests], Father [Eugene] Roberts and Father [Joy] Chacko.”
Mykityshyn, who is a member of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, reflected on her more than 20 years in catechetical ministry upon learning that she had been named the recipient of the 2019 “Chick” McGinty Award for Excellence in Catechetical Ministry. Mykityshyn was presented with the award during the annual Convocation of Catechetical Ministers held Oct. 24 in St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction.
The award, presented by the diocesan Department of Catechesis, is given in recognition of an outstanding catechetical leader who is designated by the ministry. The award is named after Rosemarie “Chick” McGinty, who was diocesan director of the Office of Catechesis from 1986 to 2003. McGinty holds the distinct honor of being the first laywoman to serve as a parish director of religious education and the first laywoman to be director of a diocesan office in the Diocese.
“I have never had the pleasure of meeting Chick McGinty, but I do know of her legacy,” said Mykityshyn, who holds a bachelor of science degree in education/special education and speech/language pathology from Seton Hall University, South Orange; a master’s degree in theology from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and is a commissioned lay ecclesial minister for the Diocese.
“I think of the parish catechetical leaders who have won this award before me. Many of them have been my role models and mentors. Following in their footsteps has been a tremendous honor,” she said.
In presenting the award, Denise Contino, director of the Department of Catechesis, said, “Mary has certainly demonstrated leadership in the catechetical world and has made significant contributions to catechetical ministry.”
Colleagues from St. Gabriel Parish echoed Contino’s sentiments.
“Though her responsibility is the religious education program, she has had a tremendous effect across all aspects of St. Gabriel Parish, and she is a truly remarkable catechetical leader,” said Deacon Stephen Sansevere, a permanent deacon in the parish for many years.
“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor for her tireless work with the children and adults in St. Gabriel Parish,” said Deacon Sansevere, who is now assigned as a transitional deacon in St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor.
Father Roberts, pastor of St. Gabriel Parish, stated that it was his honor to nominate Mykityshyn for the award.
“She truly has the ability to work with our volunteer teachers and make everyone feel important and needed in our religious education program,” he said.
Mykityshyn began in her ministry as a volunteer catechist in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, working the majority of the time with seventh- and eighth-grade students. She has also been an instructor for the Diocese’s catechist certification program and became the parish catechetical leader in St. Gabriel Parish in 2014.
Of religious education, Mykityshyn said she has learned that it is a “womb to tomb” experience, then went on to cite various catechetical offerings at St. Gabriel Parish that include a preschool Liturgy of the Word Program on Sundays, a “Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Jesus and Me” program for young parishioners and their families as well as faith formation opportunities for adults in the form of Scripture study, a book sharing and viewing movies followed by discussion.
Mykityshyn noted that one major catechetical highlight was introducing a summer program in addition to the parish’s offering the existing traditional fall program. With the summer program, more opportunities for family catechesis were made available throughout the year, she said, noting that there are about 960 students and 75 catechists involved.