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First Century Rabbi pays

visit to DRE Day

Annual event highlights the many

educational and faith enrichment

programs the diocese offers

Reaching across time and space, 1st Century Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai visited Dodge City where his presentation became one of the highlights of the June 1 DRE Day.
    DRE Day, which drew Directors of Religious Education from across southwest Kansas to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is an annual event that underscores several programs in the diocese offering both education and faith enrichment.
    The highlight of the event was the presentation given by ben Zakkai, who looked amazingly like Father Henry Hildebrandt.

    “Good morning, good morning!” he said in accented English. “Peace be with you! I am Johanan ben Zakkai. It is always a pleasure for me to come and visit the people of this diocese. Every so often Coleen [Stein, coordinator of Pastoral Ministry Formation] summons me from across the ages and always I come. I lived in the First Century. I was a Pharisee.”
    Although unknown to most Christians, ben Zakkai was one of the greatest teachers of his day. He was a Jewish leader who was instrumental in separating the early Christians from the Jewish religion. He was also responsible for determining the list of Old Testament books in the Jewish Scriptures, which led to the difference between Catholic and Protestant bibles today. He came to DRE Day to share a bit of information about a pivotal time in history.
    “I lived during the time of the siege of Jerusalem [70 AD],” ben Zakkai said. “I was in Jerusalem when the Roman armies surrounded our homes. I argued in favor of peace. I tried my best to bring about reconciliation, to settle the turmoil, the fervor that was going on.”
    Without permission to leave Jerusalem, during the siege ben Zakkai had his pupils secret him out of the city hidden in a coffin. Once outside the city, he convinced the Roman general to spare the town of Yavneh, where ben Zakkai established an academy where he continued to be revered as a great scholar and teacher.
    Two-thousand years later, the Diocese of Dodge City is utilizing the internet to make sure Catholics are made aware of numerous programs in the diocese that offer important teachings. At DRE Days’ past, a large “Yellow Notebook” -- a three ring binder brimming with information laboriously pieced together by Stein – was distributed to each participant. The entire book has now been placed online. Anyone who wants information about the many programs of the diocese should visit www.dcdiocese.org and scroll to the icon on the bottom left.
    Following are snippets of a few of the programs that were highlighted during DRE Day. Speakers included Stein, Becky Hessman, Father Robert Schremmer, Eric Haselhorst, Steven Polley, and Dave Myers.  
Diocesan Website
    The recently refurbished diocesan website was introduced to the 45 or so gathered, and was then used throughout the DRE Day with pages projected onto a wall. Highlighted was the diocesan calendar, which is a constantly updated listing of upcoming events.
Interactive Television
    Interactive Television (ITV) is a method by which numerous programs, including Pastoral Ministry Formation, Catechist Formation, and others, are taught simultaneously at 10 sites throughout the diocese. Each class is interactive, allowing the participants to communicate with the presenter.  
Called and Gifted
    Called and Gifted continues this year with programs designed to allow participants to discern their charisms, or supernatural gifts given them by the Holy Spirit. The participant can then analyze ways in which he or she can use those charisms to improve their life or the lives of others. The next Called and Gifted day is scheduled for Sept. 25 in Dodge City.
Confirmation
    The presentation highlighted the continuing discussion about possible changes to the way Confirmation is presented in the diocese. An Aug. 23 gathering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe will discuss, in Spanish, where we are at in the discussion, as well as the history of Confirmation.  
Word Working
    Becky Hessman invited those gathered to take part in a Word Working prayer session in which small groups read a scripture passage three times. After each reading, individuals discuss how the reading affects their life. The prayer uses the invitation method, allowing people to pass if they don’t wish to speak
Youth
    Steve Polley, Director of the Offices of Youth Ministry and Adult Education, discussed upcoming youth ministry programs, and shared his enthusiasm for getting people aware of the importance of ministering to, and praying for, young people.
Pastoral Ministry Formation Program
    PMFP is an extensive adult education program that offers several three-hour courses. Depending on the level of participation, the student could earn a degree in pastoral ministry, a diocesan diploma, or neither if the individual chooses to take classes for personal enrichment.
Safe Environment
    One of the primary ways that the diocese is combating child sexual abuse is through the Protecting God’s Children Awareness Session. Every person in the diocese who works for the Catholic Church directly or indirectly, or who volunteers for any Church-related program, is required to attend an awareness session, which takes place at host parishes throughout the diocese. The PGC session allows people to look into the mind of a child abuser through two video presentations. Participants analyze what to look for, and how to deal with a situation, should it arise. The afternoon sessions are open to any adult.
Catechist Formation
    Stein highlighted upcoming classes designed for catechists, including September classes that will be instructed by Sister Esther Pineda, CSJ, Coordinator of the Justice and Peace Center in Salina. She will help “bring about an awareness of violence in our world, ourselves and in our students.”
Vocations
    Hessman, Coordinator for Vocations, spoke of the importance of vocations, and how if the diocese only ordained two men per year, the priest shortage would be reversed.
Other presentations
    Also discussed was the chancery resource library and its online directory. Individuals can now easily access the many titles available at the library located at the Catholic chancery in Dodge City.

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