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 eight women and two men as they begin new assignments serving as parish catechetical leaders.
St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Anthony of Padua, Red Bank
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts in theology, DeSales University, Center Valley, Pa.
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Oversee the parish religious education program, train and support catechists
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Religion teacher in St. Mary Parish, Middletown
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: Catechesis is the work of evangelizing and teaching the faith to children. Parents are primarily responsible for this, yet catechists also play a critical role in nourishing and supporting the faith of the youth. In this work, catechists follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles as teachers and evangelists for the faith.
St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Barnabas, Bayville
EDUCATION: Received parish catechetical leadership training through diocesan leadership formation program; received diocesan training in youth ministry
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Oversee eighth grade religious education program with more than 1,000 students; oversee eighth grade Confirmation prep
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: At St. Barnabas, was hired as the Confirmation secretary in 2005. Over the years, worked as a junior high youth ministry leader until becoming an assistant to the parish catechetical leader for the religious education program.
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: “This is all about the kids. Sharing with them about Christ and teaching them about ways to find Christ in themselves and each other.”
St. James Parish, Red Bank
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. James, Red Bank
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s in psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; master’s in teaching, Monmouth University, West Long Branch
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: More than 14 years teaching religion as well as science and English for sixth through eighth grades in St. James School, Red Bank
ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: STEM certified science teacher; a Google certified educator and a certified catechist. In 2019, she became the head of the youth ministry program in St. James Parish
WHY SERVIN IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: I am blessed to share my love of our faith by encouraging the young people of the parish to express their faith in service and fellowship.
St. Peter Parish, Point Pleasant Beach
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Peter, Point Pleasant Beach
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s in art education, K-12, Monmouth University, West Long Branch; Master’s in educational administration, supervision, curriculum design at Georgian Court University, Lakewood
ADDITIONAL CERTFICATION: Teacher certification in Genesis to Jesus at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio; pastoral care certification, Diocese of Trenton
RESPONSIBLIITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Catechetical formation for public school students in grades first through eighth
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Catechist for third, fourth and sixth grades as well as adults in Holy Trinity Parish, Long Branch, now part of Christ the King Parish, Long Branch; grief support, women’s faith sharing groups
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: I/We have been called to surrender all of ourselves, in love and gratitude to our heavenly father through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us the power and Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This ambassadorship necessitates continual prayer, study of sacred Scriptures and writings, the Catechism and resources related to our area of ministry. As a lifelong learner, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw closer to Jesus and to share the gift of his love with others.
Nativity Parish, Fair Haven
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: Nativity, Fair Haven
EDUCATION: Master of Science in elementary education, St. John’s University, Staten Island, N.Y.; Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, University of Albany, N.Y.
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: I develop and implement our religious education curriculum and oversee all sacramental preparation for our students. I also help train our catechists to become familiar with our curriculum and students.
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: I have been teaching religious education classes in Nativity Parish for the past 17 years.
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: I believe it is important to teach young people about our Catholic faith so that they can embrace their membership in our Church community and live their lives as disciples of Jesus.
St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford
EDUCATION: Master of Arts in theology, Catholic Distance University, Charles Town, W.V.; Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts, Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Coordinate the religious education programs for both St. Mary of the Lakes Parish and School
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Youth ministry coordinator/catechist, St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Wayne, Pa., and St. Patrick Parish, Mich.; high school theology teacher, Villa Maria Academy High School, Malvern, Pa., and Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School, Mich.
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE? I am passionate about Catholic identity and inspiring others to live their faith in every aspect of life.
St. Veronica Parish, Howell
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: Corpus Christi, South River
EDUCATION: Master of Science in educational leadership, and Master of Arts in elementary education, both Georgian Court University, Lakewood; dyslexia coach, Wilson Reading System Certification; public speaking, IBM Corporation
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Coordinate Religious Education which entails helping to build a solid spiritual foundation for each our students through leading by example; sharing your love of God, Scripture readings, works of service, and actively participating in the life and mission of the Church.
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Taught religious studies at various grade levels throughout my teaching career
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE? This role is important so that we may assist in the nurturing of a child’s faith journey through the various stages in the hope they will develop a passion and love of God and continue to be active members in the Christian community.
St. Mary Parish, Middletown
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Mary, Middletown
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in business administration with concentration in finance, Marywood University, Dunmore, Pa.; Bachelor of Arts in history, Rowan University, Glassboro; currently pursuing Certificate of Catechesis and enrolled in Parish Catechetical Leader Program with the Diocese
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Responsible for the implementation of the religious education of the parish from first to eighth grade (1000 students); coordinating and planning the summer Vacation Bible School; coordinate sacramental preparation, retreats and liturgies for First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation; planning and organizing family catechesis; working with parents, students, teens and volunteers to share my faith and love of the Lord with all in our parish
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: The last nine years, I was the St. Mary Parish faith formation assistant. The previous CRE, Peggy Dunne, was instrumental in teaching me everything about running a religious education program. She also taught me how to go to Adoration and ask Jesus to take care of all the details in everything we did during those nine years – something I still do today. Also volunteered with the Sunday Scripture program that taught children ages 3-7 about the Gospel reading for that day; taught fourth and fifth grade religious education in the summer Radiant Joy Program; have been a leader in the vacation Bible school, and substituted all grades during the school year.
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: I do not know where I would be today if I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I want everyone to know that God loves us always and that if we truly believe in Jesus and trust in him, he will guide us through his Holy Spirit. The world is in chaos these days and the children need to feel God’s love and presence. I pray I can make a difference and that I bring parents, children, and teens to have a personal encounter with Christ.
St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Farmingdale
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: St. Catherine of Siena, Farmingdale
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Currently, to serve on behalf of the Church, overseeing the parish religious education program for students in grades 1-8 and building up family faith formation through parish programs and events; my work in the parish is to welcome and support all who seek to know Christ and his Church.
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: Pastor’s associate in St. Catherine of Siena for six years, collaborating on all aspects of parish life with responsibilities based on the parish’s needs. Over 20 years as a catechist serving in the Dioceses of Scranton, Pa., Camden and Trenton. Over the years, led Mommy & Me programs and Children’s Liturgy of the Word, and was classroom catechist for grades K-6.
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: Serving in the ministry of catechesis is a vital part of the parish’s mission. It is meaningful and builds relationships with the community we serve, a community with a beautiful mosaic of gifts offered to the Church. The students and their families will meet Jesus in Word, Truth and Sacrament through the parish. The program aims to pass on the joy of the Gospel, and create a beautiful memory of their local parish, bringing everyone closer to Jesus and his ministry.
Mary Kate Sternik
Mother of Mercy, Asbury Park
PARISH WHERE YOU ATTEND: Mother of Mercy, Asbury Park
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education, Mount St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Md.
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CATECHETICAL LEADER: Helping the catechists and students grow closer to God through instruction and program ing
PREVIOUS CATECHETICAL EXPERIENCE: This is my first time coordinating a parish religious education program, but I have taught religion throughout my entire career as an educator. This included creating lessons in line with diocesan curricula, while also supporting students preparing to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation.
WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATECHESIS IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE? I am blessed to work with a very diverse community, where it is obvious that God’s love and mercy are the same no matter where you come from or what language you speak. Helping others find the beauty and joy in a relationship with God brought significant meaning to my life as an educator, so I am excited to use this passion in my new role. Now more than ever, it is so important for the youngest members of our community to understand why a relationship with God is important. It’s hard to feel close to someone who feels far away, so it is our job to help them know the presence of God in their everyday lives.