Teacher formation day July 19; pilot program for new curriculum planned
Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) – The Office of Religious Education will hold the first annual “Confirmed for Mission” Confirmation Retreat at Camp Kateri Tekawitha in McCool Junction Sept. 28.
Open to students who will be confirmed in 2019-2020 and their parents (sponsors are also welcome), the aim of the day-long retreat is to help attendees grow in familiarity with the Holy Spirit and His gifts as well as to prepare them to receive the evangelical mission toward which He leads them, according to Father Andrew Heaslip, the director of religious education for the diocese.
“When someone receives Confirmation, then, the Holy Spirit will continue to work in that person in order to lead him or her to confidently proclaim Jesus’ Name and to share the Gospel with others,” Father Heaslip said.
The retreat is meant to help students prepare to receive this new gift of evangelization from the Holy Spirit, while helping parents to walk in that journey with their child.
The day will include speaker sessions, adoration and confession, lunch, a “92 Questions” game, Sunday Vigil Mass and a group session where parents will have the opportunity to pray with their children.
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“God gives parents a special authority to pray with—and for—their children, and their word of prayer and blessing does impact them in a profound way,” Father Heaslip said.
Schinstock is the director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Lincoln and will present a session entitled “What is Confirmation?”
“Retreats are a way of stepping back from the busyness and noise of our life and resetting ourselves in alignment with the Lord,” Schinstock said. “We also have a need for the entire Christian community to understand the sacraments, and the sacrament of Confirmation.”
Walsh, who is a fifth-grade teacher at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ School in Lincoln, said parents will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit and the significance of this sacrament in their own life and the life of their child.
Walsh said, “I pray that the Holy Spirit brings a lot of grace to the families who attend. I hope that families feel strengthened in their walk to Heaven together and anticipate their Confirmation with a lot of joy and peace.”
Sister Mary Angela, C.K., the assistant in the Office of Evangelization, is excited that the retreat will bring together students from different towns and parishes, and is looking forward to seeing their growth, along with that of their parents.
“Parents need to know the changes that are going to happen in their children’s lives at Confirmation and should help them in that process of evangelization,” she said.
Father Heaslip echoed that sentiment.
“Parents are the primary educators [of their children] in regard to faith and this retreat is meant to help them in that role,” He said. “After Confirmation children really do receive a new gift of the Spirit but they don’t know what to do with it.”
The retreat is just one of the ways the Office of Evangelization is working to emphasize how Confirmation leads a Christian toward evangelization.
Additional efforts include a Confirmation teacher formation day on July 19 and a revamping of the Diocese’s current Confirmation curriculum to place more of an emphasis on the way the Holy Spirit equips those confirmed to evangelize others.
While Father Heaslip had the idea of enhancing the curriculum based on the knowledge that the sacrament is directed toward evangelization, Sister Mary Angela has been collaborating with him on ideas for both materials and the new events being held.
As someone who has taught in a fifth-grade classroom, she knows what it’s like to teach the Confirmation curriculum and said it has been difficult to find a good text to use for it.
In putting together a new curriculum, the Office of Evangelization will also provide new curricular tools that teachers can use to teach students how to rely upon the Holy Spirit to evangelize and pray with others.
“Even though they’re young, these students still have to be able to share Jesus,” Sister Mary Angela said. “We would love to have the children be empowered and know that they will be able to pray with one another. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we taught our fifth graders that?”
A pilot program for the new curriculum is tentatively planned for this fall or January of 2020, with the hopes that it can be rolled out across the diocese in the fall of 2020.
A change like this has big implications for the future of the diocese.
Sister Mary Angela said, “We would love to see that confidence as a confirmed Catholic in our students, that they will be so in love with this gift that they have received that they will want to share it with others. That will really transform their faith.”