Director of Evangelization and Catechesis
This letter is many things rolled into one. An introduction, an invitation and hopefully, some inspiration.
My name is Kristia Loeder (pronounced Krista- 2nd i is silent; Lay-der) and I'm the new Director of Religious Education (DRE) at St. Patrick's. I am not new to the religious education (RE) program at St. Patrick's. I've served on the RE Committee for three years and have taught 2nd, 5th and Confirmation classes in the past. Where I've met many of you is through the Christmas program over the last three years. I've been a stay-at-home-mom for six years. Prior to that I worked thirteen years in public elementary schools as a teacher and administrator. My husband, Dan, and I have lived in Cottage Grove for ten years. We both grew up in Lake Mills and have always been in the area. Our boys, Max (11) and Gus (8), are student in the MG schools.
Now that we've got that out of the way, I want to talk to you parent-to-parent. Here's the thing...we are all in different places in our understanding of the Catholic Faith. Some of us attended Catholic schools where we got a solid foundation in the Faith. Some of us attended Catholic schools and really don't remember much of the Faith or it just wasn't taught all that well. Some of us went to public schools and attended "Catechism Classes" on Wednesday nights where the boys goofed off and the teacher spent most the time trying to get them under control, much less teaching any deep theology (can you tell I was in that group?). Here's a very interesting thing I learned about us parents just the other day. Did you know that our generation, those who received religious education in the 70's and 80's are considered the "Catechetical Gap"? Yup, we have been labeled. Apparently, after the Second Vatican Council in the 60's there was some confusion. Parishes were under the impression that there were some changes coming to religious education. Rather than carry on with what they were teaching, most of them just kind of floated around until the 90's when the direction became much clearer. It's no wonder we don't have much depth in understand our Faith. Here's the really humbling part, are you ready? There are so much we don't know, but we don't know that we don't know. Did you follow that?
If I sound like a know-it-all, don't be fooled! Here's the real story. I grew up in a loving, supportive, Catholic family. We never missed Sunday Mass, volunteered at most church events, and prayed the dinner prayer every day. However, I grew up, went to college and lived a rather worldly life. Probably went to Mass once a month. It wasn't until my first son entered religious education classes at St. Patrick's (Mrs. Voster's 1st grade class ©) and I volunteered to teach (was assigned 2nd grade...what?? Two sacraments??) that I realized how much I didn't know (Catechetical Gap!). Full disclosure: when the priest was quizzing my students, I didn't even know some of the answers to some basic stuff. I had no idea that as Catholics we are required to go to confession the bare minimum of once a year. If we don't, we cannot receive the Holy Eucharist. I didn't even know that we are to fast one hour before receiving the Holy Eucharist. I really needed to get my soul cleaned up! My last confession was before Confirmation in high school. I didn't even know the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony in a state of grace. Let's just say that finally going to confession after twenty-two years was a bit humbling. The priest summed it up by saying, "How about you just start by praying." This was four years ago. What happened next was pretty crazy. I started praying more, mostly just carrying on silent conversations with God. When our parish started using the Faith and Life series (solid and succinct teaching of our Faith) and I started reading the chapters with my boys, things became much clearer. Here's the beauty of it, the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The things that were hard in life are still there, they just aren't as hard. There were times I didn't want to learn more, because then I'd be responsible for what I knew. Wouldn't I lose some of the fun and easy life if I had to follow all of God's rules? The thing is, God wants us to enjoy our lives, but He'd really like it if we took him along for the ride. Believe it or not, all of those activities just might become more fun and life a bit easier because God is with us.
Why do I share all of this with you? I want you to know that I am here for you. I don't care if you've never read your child's homework, don't know your prayers or haven't been to confession in twenty-two years! Fr. Michael and I want to support you in any way we can. Our top priority is to help souls get to Heaven and that's all souls...not just the kids :)
I am so excited to walk this journey with you! Please don't hesitate to send questions my way. My office hours are pretty sporadic over the summer. You can leave a voice message in my office, 839-3969 ext. 13 or email me at email@example.com.
Kristia Loeder, DRE St. Patrick's Parish