Catechetical leaders celebrate, reflect on completing certificate program

June 22, 2023 at 10:16 p.m.
Catechetical leaders celebrate, reflect on completing certificate program
Catechetical leaders celebrate, reflect on completing certificate program

By Jessica Donohue, Correspondent and Mary Stadnyk, associate editor

During a June 8 Mass in Visitation Church, Brick, nine religious educators from across the Diocese received Parish Catechetical Leadership certificates and were reminded by celebrant Father Edward H. Blanchett, pastor, that through their ministry they are “sharing in the mission of passing on the faith.”

Pastors from the participants’ parishes concelebrated the Mass which marked this special milestone.

The Parish Catechetical Leadership Program, also known as PCLP, is offered by the diocesan Department of Catechesis and led by director Denise Contino. It was created to prepare individuals for catechetical leadership through a two-year program which spans topics both practical and theological.

Graduates include Laura Drozd, St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, Barbara Kane, Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Holly; John Klarmann, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade; Lisa Limongello, St. James Parish, Pennington, St. George Parish, Titusville, and St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell; Joanne Martone, Visitation Parish, Brick; Robyn Modugo, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Hainesport; Nicolena Salerno, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Keyport; Sabena Spencer, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, and Thomas Sweeney, St. Clement Parish, Matawan.

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Participants meet regularly throughout both years as they explore a range of subjects from Scripture and canon law, to effective methods for recruiting and encouraging catechists. Some classes are held in person, others are virtual. All are led by instructors with advanced degrees in theology and related fields.

The culmination of the program is the presentation of individual projects, which bring together the knowledge participants have gained through the PCLP and their own ministerial experiences. 

After graduation from the program, individuals are prepared and well-formed for catechetical leadership roles in parishes. While this typically takes the form of running a religious education program, their gifts and knowledge can be used in a variety of ways according to the catechetical needs of the parish. 

Reflecting upon their time in the PCLP, the 2023 certificate recipients shared the intellectual and spiritual growth they experienced through the program. Spencer, who currently serves as the assistant in the religious education program in St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, noted that her time in the PCLP has already borne fruit in her ministry. “In the process,” Sabena said, “I have also developed a program for the existing special needs children so that they can get a chance to participate in faith formation and receive their Sacraments.” 

Tom Sweeney, currently the catechetical leader in St. Clement Parish, Matawan, particularly appreciated the inclusion of theological topics, sharing that, “Growing in knowledge always helps when communicating with catechists, students, and families.”

A common theme throughout the conversations with the new graduates of this unique program was the great value of the interpersonal relations and friendships formed over the two years, which proved to be of great benefit.  “The most valuable aspect of the program,” Joanne Martone of Visitation Parish, noted, “was the collaboration, the chance to be mentored, forming friendships and being guided by such wonderful leaders. Denise [who] have been an inspiration to what Christ is calling us to do: to know him, to serve him, and to bring others to him.”

The Department of Catechesis is currently recruiting participants in the PCLP for 2023-2025. Online applications may be found at https://dioceseoftrenotn.org/parish-catechetical-leadership program.  For more information, contact Denise Contino at 609-403-7179 or [email protected].

Jessica Donohue is parish catechetical leader in St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever.  Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE).  Thank you for your support


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During a June 8 Mass in Visitation Church, Brick, nine religious educators from across the Diocese received Parish Catechetical Leadership certificates and were reminded by celebrant Father Edward H. Blanchett, pastor, that through their ministry they are “sharing in the mission of passing on the faith.”

Pastors from the participants’ parishes concelebrated the Mass which marked this special milestone.

The Parish Catechetical Leadership Program, also known as PCLP, is offered by the diocesan Department of Catechesis and led by director Denise Contino. It was created to prepare individuals for catechetical leadership through a two-year program which spans topics both practical and theological.

Graduates include Laura Drozd, St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, Barbara Kane, Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Holly; John Klarmann, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade; Lisa Limongello, St. James Parish, Pennington, St. George Parish, Titusville, and St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell; Joanne Martone, Visitation Parish, Brick; Robyn Modugo, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Hainesport; Nicolena Salerno, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Keyport; Sabena Spencer, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, and Thomas Sweeney, St. Clement Parish, Matawan.

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Participants meet regularly throughout both years as they explore a range of subjects from Scripture and canon law, to effective methods for recruiting and encouraging catechists. Some classes are held in person, others are virtual. All are led by instructors with advanced degrees in theology and related fields.

The culmination of the program is the presentation of individual projects, which bring together the knowledge participants have gained through the PCLP and their own ministerial experiences. 

After graduation from the program, individuals are prepared and well-formed for catechetical leadership roles in parishes. While this typically takes the form of running a religious education program, their gifts and knowledge can be used in a variety of ways according to the catechetical needs of the parish. 

Reflecting upon their time in the PCLP, the 2023 certificate recipients shared the intellectual and spiritual growth they experienced through the program. Spencer, who currently serves as the assistant in the religious education program in St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, noted that her time in the PCLP has already borne fruit in her ministry. “In the process,” Sabena said, “I have also developed a program for the existing special needs children so that they can get a chance to participate in faith formation and receive their Sacraments.” 

Tom Sweeney, currently the catechetical leader in St. Clement Parish, Matawan, particularly appreciated the inclusion of theological topics, sharing that, “Growing in knowledge always helps when communicating with catechists, students, and families.”

A common theme throughout the conversations with the new graduates of this unique program was the great value of the interpersonal relations and friendships formed over the two years, which proved to be of great benefit.  “The most valuable aspect of the program,” Joanne Martone of Visitation Parish, noted, “was the collaboration, the chance to be mentored, forming friendships and being guided by such wonderful leaders. Denise [who] have been an inspiration to what Christ is calling us to do: to know him, to serve him, and to bring others to him.”

The Department of Catechesis is currently recruiting participants in the PCLP for 2023-2025. Online applications may be found at https://dioceseoftrenotn.org/parish-catechetical-leadership program.  For more information, contact Denise Contino at 609-403-7179 or [email protected].

Jessica Donohue is parish catechetical leader in St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever.  Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE).  Thank you for your support

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