DRE, Catechist of the Year awards,
part of annual KARE Conference
Each summer in the last full weekend in July the four dioceses of Kansas host the KARE (Kansas Association of Religious Educators) Conference.
DRE’s (directors of religious education), catechists, youth ministers, teachers, and RCIA team members have the opportunity to hear national speakers and participate in workshops and small group sharing sessions.
At the conference, awards are presented to each diocese honoring their Catechist and DRE of the Year. At this year’s conference, held in Wichita, the Diocese of Dodge City presented Debby Dowdle from Prince of Peace in Great Bend the Catechist of the Year award, while the DRE of the Year award was presented to Ruth Baalmann of St. Michael Parish, LaCrosse. Steven Polley, Diocese of Dodge City Director of Youth Ministry and Religious Formation, was unable to attend due to his daughter’s wedding. Presenting the awards was Kate Werner, Polley’s secretary, who read statesments prepared by Polley.
In honoring Dowdle, Polley wrote, “Her commitment and love of family, children and grandchildren also serves as a wonderful example and witness to her students and their families. Over the years I have seen this first hand with her presence at the annual Diocesan Stewardship Day, youth rallies, and more recently serving as camp counselor for our summer camps. Truly this person knows the importance of putting God first in her life, family second, and herself third.”
Polley quoted Dowdle’s DRE, Jill Lane, as saying, “She is committed to teaching and preparing her students for Reconciliation and First Eucharist. She is involved with the students from beginning to end. She gives freely of her personal time and energy to ensure her students success.”
In the award presentation to Baalmann, Polley quoted from the nomination letter, which was submitted by fellow DRE Denise Strecker.
“ I have gotten to know her through being a DRE myself, but we have become very good friends and sisters through Christ. The first gathering I went to as a DRE, not knowing anyone, I sat with her and she was so inviting and nice. She has the charism of ‘hospitality’ that just draws you in.
“… She is a very compassionate and caring person always sharing her ideas with me and anyone else will take time to listen. She is always thinking outside the box to come up with new and exciting ideas that will reach the children. …
“Just last year at this conference, she shared with me a script and DVD of the Living Stations. I went home and began working on how our high school kids could do this. It was probably one of the most powerful stations that our parish has ever prayed together. ... She is one of the most unselfish people I have ever known. She is definitely one who, when I look into her eyes, Jesus is looking back at me.”