PSR programs benefitting from home-grown generosity
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Thanks to the generosity of Catholics across the diocese and beyond, thousands of dollars from the Vibrant Ministries – Uniting Our Church Appeal have already been dispersed to local parishes for use in their Parish School of Religion (PSR), youth programs, and other faith formation programs.
This includes funding for such items as computers, projectors and televisions, computer equipment for video production, wireless interface, computer programs and videos, scholarships and Bibles.
At the heart of the Appeal grants is the desire of the diocese to educate and empower the educators.
VIDEOS FOR TEENS, RANSOM
Denise Flax spoke to the Catholic from the playground where she is a kindergarten and first grade teacher. The junior and senior high PSR teacher will be using the Appeal funding to spread the word of God to young people through videos made by young people.
“We’re really excited,” Flax said amid the sounds of children at recess. “We are making apologetic videos for teens. [Apologetics is the “science of explaining the Catholic Faith in a rational and reasonable manner with love and patience.”]
“What we’re wanting to do is to reach as many teens as possible. We’re making and posting on Youtube and social media to reach kids, making them stronger and more knowledgeable about their faith, so they will be able to answer questions or respond to attacks about their faith.”
Up until now, Flax and her class have been using an iPhone for video production, which resulted in one video called, “What is Apologetics?” The ability to utilize better equipment will enhance the video production and the final result, Flax said, which will ultimately attract more young people to the videos.
“The kids are so excited about it, but by the end of class I’m exhausted,” she said with a laugh. Making even a five-minute video can take a great deal of effort, including hours and hours of editing.
“It’s a huge project. I’m sort of like a referee. We have a curriculum that we use; we read and learn concepts. Some kids have an idea and get up and act it out. I say if it sounds good, whether it needs tweaking, or ‘we aren’t going to go down that road,’” Flax said with another laugh.
“They’re fun to make,” she added. “There’s a lot of humor.”
Flax didn’t receive the amount of funding that was requested in her grant application – a decision left to the money crunchers -- but it was “a good chunk” that will go toward the purchase of a new computer, video camera, software, a boom mic for better sound, and lighting. She admitted that the class will be doing a bit of fund-raising in order to get all the equipment they need, but she stressed that she appreciates every bit of funding from the Appeal that she received.
At the annual Stewardship Conference Aug. 25, Flax and members of her class provided a workshop on video production for PSR classes. (See pages 14-15.)
FAITH FORMATION, LIBERAL
St. Anthony Parish in Liberal benefited from the generosity of the people of the diocese via grants to several of their faith formation programs. St. Anthony, one of the larger parishes in the diocese with nearly 2,000 registered families (and many unregistered), received financial gifts for programs including adult formation (DVDs and materials), adult evangelization (Christlife program), PSR Catechist Coaching (outside speakers and manuals), youth and young adult (summer daycare program), RCIA (educational videos), and three Pastoral Ministry Formation scholarships at approximately $500 each.
One of the great blessings of the funding is the education of catechists.
“I think it is a much needed and great thing that these funds are being made available,” said Dan Diepenbrock, St. Anthony Parish Manager. “We have in our parish almost 50 dedicated catechists who volunteer their time at least once every week, sometimes twice a week. And we feel obligated to equip them the best we can so that they can do the best job they can passing on the faith to our youth.”
After discerning the need for a “sustained effort at forming our catechists,” the parish applied for a grant that would “compensate outside speakers, so that we can have them make presentations on classroom strategies techniques and tactics. We planned them three consecutive Wednesday evening sessions, where the catechists would hear presentations on those topics.”
The grant will pay these outside speakers, and will fund special materials for each cathechist.
“We were happy with the number of grants that were approved for us,” Diepenbrock said. “We submitted six grant requests and they were all approved, and we are very appreciative.”
WORLD YOUTH DAY, SATANTA
St. Alphonsus Parish in Satanta submitted a grant request for help offsetting the cost of sending its youth to World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.
While the good people of Satanta will still have to raise a great deal of funding, the diocese took a sizable chip out of the sizable chunk of funding required to send their youth to the Central American country in a mere four months. World Youth Day is set to occur Jan. 22-27 in Panama City.
“So far we have 15 youth going to Panama WYD in January 2019,” said Gaby Trejo, a Confirmation teacher at St. Aphonsus Parish.
“Most of the youth going this WYD were just confirmed in April, so I believe its important for our youth to go the year after confirmation to experience their faith and learn more about their faith outside of a classroom or within our community. I think this will help them to confirm and enhance their faith in many different ways.”
The $7,500 grant that the parish received for the trip was a “huge help for the youth and their families. Most of the families can’t afford to pay for the trip.... The funding we received is giving us the chance to make this dream happen.”
Thanks to the motivation of the St. Alphonsus parents and other parishioners, they began holding fundraising activities, “selling enchiladas, tamales, burritos, menudo, an IPAD raffle, and having garage sales. We are blessed with generous people from our parish and the Knights of Columbus with their donations.
“You will not believe how proud I feel of the youth and their families,” Gaby said. “Every activity we have, everyone helps — youth, parents, siblings, grandparents. We are like a little family trying to help each other. We’ve had long nights cooking the day before a food sale. The youth, coming and helping until late at night on weekdays ... were tired, but still worked hard to make this trip possible.
“All I can say is that our community is blessed to have youth like them,” Gaby said. “We will keep working hard fundraising; it will not be easy, but God knows this group deserves going to WYD to experience this unique opportunity.”