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Developing a Parish Program The Effective DRE A Skills Development Series.

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1 Developing a Parish Program The Effective DRE A Skills Development Series

2 Introduction The purpose of this study is to outline the task of developing a comprehensive catechetical program for a parish.

3 Chapter 1: Developing a Catechetical Program – An Overview You need a clear picture of what you hope to achieve. Articulate a simple and clear statement of what you are seeking to accomplish. Understanding your mission statement will shape your programming questions. Ask the right program development questions. The statement must embody your vision and understanding of catechesis. Criteria: Comprehensive, Rooted in Tradition, related to the Church’s overall mission. Remember that your program must partner with other parish ministries. Use Common Sense Alternative Models –Educate parish leadership, parents, catechists (team) to think in a new way. Calls for conversion that may be resisted.

4 Sample Mission Statement The catechetical program of St. Matthew Parish seeks to provide adults, youth, and children with the knowledge, experiences, and skills necessary to become faithful and fruitful disciples of Jesus. In Keeping with their age, they will assume responsibility as vital members of the parish and be able to participate in the Church’s mission to proclaim, celebrate, and serve the coming of God’s reign. What do you like and not like about this Mission Statement?

5 Implementation Advice If you are entering a parish with an existing program, evaluate the mission statement and programming. You might need to update or adjust the program goals to bring it in line with the changing circumstances of the parish or developments in catechesis. If you need to introduce changes within an existing program: move slowly, consult with those most affected by the changes, over communicate the reasons for the changes, ensure these reasons are accurately understood, and go through the proper channels to receive support from parish leadership. Always be patient, sensitive and reasonable when making changes. Arrange for visits to other parishes, of similar size to your own, who have developed and successful programs.

6 If you are Designing a new program: Assemble a consultative group, comprised of veteran catechists and parents. Be innovative, yet centralize your efforts around core values. Example: Shift from imparting information about Jesus and the church to forming a relationship with Jesus and with the community of disciples. Catechists would be trained more as facilitators than teachers.

7 Reflection Questions How well do you think your parish’s present catechetical mission statement serves as a guide for program development? What might be added or better stated in it? What are “programming questions” it suggests? Are these adequate? If your parish presently does not have a catechetical mission statement, gather some interested people and attempt to develop one in keeping with the principles outlined above. How would you describe the difference between developing an authentic alternative model and altering an existing program.

8 Chapter 2: Components of a Comprehensive Program Parishes are unique, so catechetical programs will be unique also. There is no “one size fits all.” This an overview of various elements found in comprehensive programs, which must be tailored to meet the needs of your parish.

9 1. Well-Designed Curriculum You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, check with the diocesan office for approved texts. Identify your goals with specific age groups…and be realistic. Create action steps to achieve your goals. Ensure your goals are developmentally appropriate.

10 Well-designed curriculum More than scope and sequence Use resources at your disposal –Diocesan guidelines –CCC –GDC –National Directory for Catechesis Principles to guide you: don’t be overly ambitious know how to achieve your goals goals developmentally appropriate

11 2. The Program is Developmentally Appropriate and uses Appropriate Methods Your programs structure and curriculum need to match the capacities, learning styles and readiness of the target age group. Find the balance between challenging your students but not becoming overly ambitious.

12 3. The Program is Based on Needs Assessment and Implements ongoing Evaluation Needs assessment is periodic, evaluation should be ongoing. Needs assessment discerns the needs of the parish members; looking at demographic and socioeconomic make-up. Stay within the parameters of catechesis; your program can’t solve all the needs of the parish. Evaluate how well you have achieved your defined goals. The results will determine if changes are necessary. The primary benefit of evaluation is early detection of problems.

13 Needs assessment and ongoing evaluation Needs Assessment –Before program planning –Observable aspects of parish (less tangible) –Internal life of parish –Shape your program (add or subtract components) Evaluation –Determine if goals are achieved –Detect problems –Always at the end of an adult session or program –End of the year

14 4. Evaluation Be observant of how your program unfolds during the year. How is attendance? Are there discipline problems? What are the complaints centered around? The “end of the year” evaluation needs to be more formal. You may conduct interviews with students, parents, or teachers Ask for written testimonies or have an questionnaire/evaluation form. Look for trends or reoccurring issues. Don’t overreact to complaints or highly vocal criticism if it’s only coming from two or three isolated people. Deal with isolated criticism on the individual level.

15 5. Incorporate the diverse needs of the Parish Community Analyze the different cultures and family structures within your Parish. Aim your program at the majority’s needs. Though you can’t solve every problem, be sensitive and respectful towards diverse groups.

16 Incorporate Good Public Relations Communicate well to your parish. Use written communication: brochures, letters, handbooks…what else? Use verbal communication presentations at Mass or other parish functions.

17 Utilize Current Technology How can you use: Videos Internet Emails PowerPoint Presentations ????

18 For Reflection Given the circumstances and makeup of your parish, which of the program components do you feel need the greatest attention? Which ones do you feel are already rather well developed. In developing or refining the program for your parish, do you think it is necessary to carry out a needs assessment first. Why or why not? Given the description of the various qualities and components of an effective program, are there any areas in which you think you personally need more training? How do you propose to get that training?

19 Chapter 3: Putting the pieces together Goals broad Objectives specific ways to achieve the goal Outcomes determines content and activities

20 ACTION STEPS Step 1: Formulate your overall goals, objectives and outcomes (rooted in Mission Statement) Step 2: Identify related activities (outside the schedule, i.e. special activities like retreats) Step 3: Determine processes and resources Step 4: Schedule your program (see page 32) Step 5: Determine the evaluation process Step 6: Inform all involved

21 For Reflection 1.List all the groups in your parish you are responsible for catechizing. Do you have an adequate goal stated for each? 2.What evaluative procedures will be most functional in your parish setting? 3.Review existing programs in other parishes. What aspects of these programs might you borrow and adapt to meet your own needs?

22 Chapter 4: Developmental Stages and Catechetical Structures Psychological stages –Emotional and intellectual capacities –Tied to chronological age Faith Development –Fully mature faith depends on fully mature development of emotional and psychological capacities –Capacity for spiritual insight “It is possible for a person to become fully mature in the psychological sense and yet remain at a stage of faith development more appropriate for a child.”

23 Groupings How will you group children and youth? Examples : Age groups (i.e. like school grade levels) Learning styles Separate boys and girls Total High School Model Alternate structures Different approaches have +’s and –’s. Examples: Intergenerational, Family- Centered Model, Lectionary-Based Model

24 Chapter 5: Programming for Adults Adults choose to learn –Decide what, when, and how the learn –Set own goals –Want to share their experiences –Evaluate success or failure of experience –Expect to be treated as adults –Expect some degree of comfort and convenience –Resist change for the sake of change

25 Tips for Catechizing Adults Encourage participation in the parish’s sacramental life and ministries. Promote participation rather than “running” the program. Be aware of distinct psychological states in different age groups of adults. Chronological age doesn’t matter. For example, a person in their fifties can be at the Faith State of a child. Adults must assume personal responsibility for their growth! ADULTS CHOOSE TO LEARN where children are expected to learn. Use Small Groups to allow adults to share. Mentoring develops a valued relationship.

26 Adult educational programs should embrace a wide scope of activities and experiences.

27 Personal invitation is a key to success!

28 For Reflection 1.Review the mission or goal statement for your parish’s adult catechesis. Is it adequate, or does it need revision? List all the programs and activities in your parish that can be considered opportunities for adults to grow in discipleship. How can you best incorporate these into your programming for adults? 2.How can you better incorporate the small group structure into your adult programming? How might you better use mentoring?



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