DREs take a tour of the
ministries of the diocese
Educators look at ways their ministry
can benefit from diocesan programs
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
It seems that children are becoming more attuned to their sexuality earlier in life, but when a kindergartner told her mother that she wanted “sexy” clothes, the mother was understandably shocked.
“What did you tell her?” asked Debbie Sheehan, one of the speakers at the June 1 DRE (Directors of Religious Education) Day at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“Nothing!” the mother responded. This story was shared by Sheehan via SKYPE from her office in Omaha, Neb. where she serves as spiritual director for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Sheehan described “H.E.A.R.T.S.” (Helping Every Adult Reveal the Truth about Sexuality), a six-session program developed in Omaha and designed to help adults “develop effective strategies for communicating with their children about sexuality.”
Her presentation was one of several at the day-long event, which focused on programs of the Diocese of Dodge City that lend support to the ministry of the DRE. Approximately 35 DREs from across the diocese attended the event.
Sheehan told those gathered that, unfortunately, the mother’s response only acted to communicate to the child that sexuality is something the parent is uncomfortable discussing.
“Parents often know they need to do something different, but don’t know what to do,” Sheehan said. “When a child comes to you with something, you have to invite them to say more. The mother should have asked, ‘What do you mean by “sexy”?’ There needs to be groundwork done at an early age.
“It really brings children to a much deeper relationship with their parents.”
Discussions are underway for presenting the program in the Diocese of Dodge City.
In his introduction at the start of the DRE Day, Bishop John Brungardt told the educators that having taught for 16 years, religious education “is very dear to me. … I would like to know how I, as your bishop, can help you.
“It’s not easy in today’s society to teach,” the bishop said. “…We used to have a captive audience.” Now, he said, there are so many distractions.
“How can we get our young people interested in this Good News?”
In reference to the Safe Environment Program, the bishop thanked the DREs for all they do to “keep our children safe.” He strongly urged the DREs to make sure they and all their catechists follow every procedure, such as having a completed background check and attending a Protecting God’s Children awareness session.
“It’s very essential to protect our children and youth,” he said. “We can leave no stone unturned. I’m trusting you to … follow up on this. Our children are at stake.”
Every few years dioceses are audited to make sure they are in compliance with the Safe Environment Program. “We want them to say that Dodge City is a shining example of a safe environment,” the bishop said.
The bishop also spoke to the DREs about including parents in their catechetical programs; spending time together as Catechists in preparation for the school year -- possibly to learn useful teaching methodologies; and he presented a draft of a potential curriculum for the sacrament of confirmation.
It had nothing to do with “speed dating,” except that it imitated the formula for sitting down for a few minutes with one person before moving onto another. At several tables in the Holy Family Social Hall sat chancery staff members, such as Eric Haselhorst, Steven Polley, Coleen Stein, and others. Groups of five or six DREs were given seven minutes at each table, where the chancery staff member would explain his or her ministry.
For example, Coordinator of Vocations Becky Hessman described several upcoming programs designed to foster vocations, such as the Companion Camp for boys and the “Jesus Calls Women” event (see Page 4). After seven minutes, a bell was rung and the group would move into the next table, at one of which sat Amy Falcon and Debbie Snapp of Catholic Social Service.
“Pregnancy counseling is what we consider the heart and soul of what we do,” Snapp explained. She went on to describe several other social justice issues with which CSS is involved, such as providing economic assistance to the working poor, and long-term disaster recovery aid.
Becky Hessman described the Word Working form of prayer, which the participants took part, and Coleen Stein described the Pastoral Ministry Formation program, Catechist Formation, and Interactive Television.
The day also included a tour of the diocesan website, dcdiocese.org, with a focus on the “Yellow Book.” Click on the icon at the bottom left on the main page, and one can read up on a multitude of ministries within the Diocese of Dodge City.