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Happy and Blessed Lent

This past Sunday we reflected on the gospel reading that places Jesus in the desert and establishes our journey along with him for 40 days.  It is easy for us to only focus on what we have given up or sacrificed during this Lenten season because in one way or another it connects us to the suffering of Christ.  

The reality is that Lent should also be a joyful time as it prepares us for the joyful resurrection at Easter.   The liturgical rites of this season help us to focus on the joy leading us to the Easter vigil. The readings used for the newly elect speak all about conversion and hope. The Scrutinies used for the newly elected during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th weeks of Lent help us all enter a period of enlightenment and purification. These rites are not only for the elect, but they are also a reminder to the parish community that we too have been initiated into the resurrected body of Christ. The themes for the Scrutinies are the following:

Third Sunday of Lent
The Samaritan Woman/Personal Sin and Conversion 
Guide us to the living waters of Baptism

Fourth Sunday of Lent
Healing the Blind Man/Social Sin and Conversion, Light and Darkness
Enlightened by the True Light of the World

Fifth Sunday of Lent
Resurrection of Lazarus
Despair, death, and conversion leads us to new life

I invite you to spend some time each Sunday to focus on the readings and symbols that lead us to the Easter season as it inspires us joyfully to experience this holiest season.

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis


Have you ever thought of your rosary beads as a portable chapel?  Each Hail Mary a repeating love language as our prayer centers us on Jesus, "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb". In our morning session Dr Sri followed Mary's "Steps of Faith", opening scripture to show us how we can learn from Mary to be a better disciple of Christ. In the afternoon session Dr. Sri presented six ways to engage moral relativism, emphasizing the necessary inclusion of forgiveness, healing, mercy and grace when speaking of moral truth. If you were not able to join us, there is great news - it was recorded!  Click here to view the webinars.

"STAY WITH US" Austin South & Central Deaneries Annual Catechist Retreat 

On February 15th,  nearly 150 catechists from many of the parishes in South and Central Austin joined together to pray, learn, and worship in Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The morning sessions featured a keynote presentation by Anna Chavez in which she shared the pearls found in Christus Vivit, the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis focusing on youth and young adults. Participants left with a renewed vision and focus for ministry with young people, and were then given an opportunity to reflect on the day's theme through the lens of scriptural accounts from the Gospels. 

After lunch, a variety of workshops were offered as well as adoration. The catechist retreats planned and implemented by the deaneries continue to be a wonderful resource for all involved in faith formation to network, share ideas, learn new methodologies, and grow spiritually. We thank the DREs from Austin South and Central for an excellent job, and the host parish of St John Neumann for their hospitality!


At this year's TCCB-RE conference Dr. Joseph White highlighted five essential skills for integrated family catechesis that we can develop in ourselves and our catechists. In this newsletter, we focus on the second of these skills. 
1. The skill of welcoming families.  
2.  Connecting faith and family life.
Parents are an icon of God for their child; the parent-child relationship is an image of God's relationship with us. We need to help parents discover this already present relationship and the wealth of opportunities to connect family moments to faith. Here are a few:
  • Share Meals (psychologically and spiritually significant!)
  • Works of Mercy (God reveals himself in these)
  • Seasonal Celebrations, Car Rides, Bedtime
  • Give Resources for Special Blessings on Milestones & Daily Events
  •  Sacred Space so Children have Concrete Images of God's Presence
  • How Can Families Live Out the Lesson of the Week?


A networking and resource group for those responsible for developing Adult Formation programs or directing the RCIA process meets quarterly at one of several host parishes. The next gathering is Thursday March 12 from 1-3pm at St Thomas Moore in NW Austin (RE Conference Room).


Discover how Theology of the Body answers fundamental and universal questions such as “What is my life’s purpose?”, “What is the real meaning of my sexuality?” and “How can I find happiness and fulfillment?”. If you would like to schedule a presentation for your catechists and/or RE parents or obtain more information on available resources, contact Dr Phi Le from the Office of Family Life.  512-949-2470.

Maryrae Stein
Associate Director of Catechesis and Formation  

DRE Deanery Representative Board Meeting Highlights

“The single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the leadership of a professionally trained parish catechetical leader.   (NDC p. 224, #5).
On February 11, our DRE Deanery Representative Board met at the Pastoral Center for our first bi-annual gathering. The board consists of 21 members representing all diocesan deaneries.
Board members are appointed by the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis, generally serve a three-year term and are selected based on experience, leadership skills, enthusiasm, and willingness to serve their peers outside their own parish.
The Board discussed a variety of topics including:
Sacramental disabilities and the opportunity to be more inclusive during Lent to persons with disabilities and their families. A Lenten activities guide from the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCDP) was shared which demonstrates examples for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Please visit for more information and resources.

 A new General Directory for Catechesis is coming soon and our hope is to offer a workshop at a later date! A brief explanation as to why was communicated to the Board. The GDC articulates the principles of catechesis, the catechumenate as the inspiration for all catechesis, lifelong catechesis, and the six tasks of catechesis. The Synod on New Evangelization (2012), Evangeli Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), it will present a new paradigm in catechesis: missionary discipleship. Some of the key themes in the new directory will include topics related to:

  • Transmission of faith in a digital world
  • Catechesis in a multicultural church
  • Catechesis, and science
  • Ecumenism
  • Popular piety
  • Family catechesis
  • Catechumenate as a model
  • Kerygmatic catechesis
Chaste Living Initiative: As you probably know, Bishop Vásquez has released a letter in both English and Spanish in response to the AISD Board of Trustees approval of new lessons on Human Sexuality and Responsibility curriculum. A webpage has been created to include the opt-out forms for parents and more information is will be added including parent, family and parish resources for catechesis on human sexuality. The Board was also introduced to a new Chaste Living Initiative, reviewed guidelines, and gave input and suggestions. More information on these initiatives will be coming soon.

Diocesan DRE Day—March 31! We are on our way to celebrating our 4th DRE Day at Our Lady of Schoenstatt Shrine and we can’t wait to see you all there!  Our keynote presenter will be Fr. Kevin Rai and our theme this year is True Presence.  We are so excited that Bishop Vásquez will celebrate mass and will enjoy lunch with all of you. We will also be enjoying an afternoon service project for Catholic Charities and ask that all participants bring a package or two of diapers in sizes 4, 5 and 6. Generally, our office plans the day exclusively but at our meeting, we invited the members to write the intercessory prayers for mass and give suggestions to make the day even more special for attendees.  Suggestions the Board made included:
  • Playlist of Music
  • Special welcome for first-time attendees
  • Writing cards with well-wishes and prayers for our seminarians
  • Picture booth
  • All attendees will participate in the Total Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the end of mass
Deanery Retreats Continue!
The deaneries have done an amazing job collaborating to offer incredible catechists’ retreats and the momentum continues! So far this year, there have been three retreats offered and attendance has been exceptional. These retreats give DREs and catechists the opportunity to come together and meet catechetical teams from surrounding parishes. There have been various keynotes and workshops including spiritual, methodological and practical. Basically, there is something for everyone. Currently, the following retreats are scheduled:
  • San Marcos Deanery: Saturday, August 1, 2020
  • Bastrop/Lockhart Deanery: Saturday, August 15, 2020 (pending)
  • Austin North/Georgetown/Round Rock: Saturday, August 29, 2020
  • Brenham/La Grange/ Bryan/CS: Saturday, January 9, 2021
  • Lampasas/Marble Falls: Saturday, January 16, 2020

Need a getaway? Attend a Conference!
Sometimes we just need to get away and you deserve it! So why not attend a conference? There are some great upcoming conferences that offer opportunities for formation, reflection, prayer and so much more:
National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, May 17-21, 2020
Power and Purpose Conference, June 5-7, 2020
St. John Bosco Conference, July 13-16, 2020
Applied Biblical Studies Conference, July 22-24, 2020
Defending the Faith Conference, July 24-26, 2020
University of Dallas Ministry Conference, October 8-10, 2020

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator of Catechesis 

Flu and virus season information
 from Bishop Vasquez

On Thursday, out of pastoral concern for the common good of the people of God during this flu and virus season, I asked our parishes to temporarily distribute Holy Communion in the hand, rather than on the tongue; to temporarily discontinue the distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass, and to remove holy water from stoups at church doors. I recognize that there will be local needs and protocols to be observed in light of this modification.   
Also, I have given pastors discretion to forgo holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer and to offer the Sign of Peace without handshaking, if that is best for their parish.  Additionally, I ask that those who are ill to not attend Mass or religious education.  Together, our efforts will certainly keep our parishes healthy but also assist our wider communities in protecting the common good of all people. 
Opt-Out of Sex Education Curriculum
in AISD Public Schools Information
Link to letter from Bishop Vasquez
Opt out Forms and Additional Information

Adult Confirmation will be celebrated on Saturday, 
April 18, 2020 at 10:30a.m. 

San Jose Parish, Austin 
2435 Oak Crest Drive 78704 

Registration deadline is Wednesday, April 8, 2020 

Download the registration form at upcoming-liturgies.  Click on the Adult Confirmation block to reach the registration form and information. 

Please contact the Office of Worship if you have any questions about the celebration or registration at (512)949-2429 or email

Closeout Special!

We still have some limited inventory of our previous English Prayer book that is currently on closeout.
Take advantage of this incredible opportunity to distribute these books to your students.
(While supplies last!)
Your diocese has purchased an upgraded diocesan membership in NCCL and they want to include you! Follow the instructions below and use the information provided in this notice to activate your membership profile. If your director has shared this gift of membership with you they value your work and want to encourage access to dialogue, networking, and professional-level ministry involvement. Enjoy!
Instructions for Activating Membership Profiles

Follow these step by step instructions for full individual membership access to the largest professional catechetical organization in the nation!

Instructions for Parish Catechetical Leaders/Directors of Religious Education ONLY
New and Existing NCCL Individual Members

Step 1. Click for INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP. Then click Add to Cart.

Step 2. On the Cart page, you should see an Individual Membership. Enter the special PCL coupon code 020-austinpcl. Click Apply Coupon then select Proceed to Check Out. 

Step 3: If you already have an active NCCL membership, you now log in. If you are a new member, here is were you will begin to create your membership profile, including a username and password (Hint: strong passwords are preferred). Click Place Order.

Step 3. Once logged in, go to your profile and complete all fields if you have not already done so.

Friday, March 13, 2020, 6:00 PM
Weekend Retreat, Mar. 13-15, 2020 Silent Lenten Retreat
The Silent Lenten Retreat will be held March 13-15 at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Temple. This retreat is a weekend of silence combined with communal prayer and Mass. Spiritual direction and reconciliation will be available. Cost for a private room is $225. Shared rooms for married couples are $190 per person.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Cedarbrake on the Road to St. Helen Parish, Georgetown
The Cedarbrake On the Road retreat will be held at St. Helen Parish in Georgetown, March 17, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Franciscan Father Albert Haase will explore practical ways to grow in a deeper relationship with God by learning how He speaks in our everyday lives. The retreat is based on his book, “Saying Yes: Discovering and Responding to God’s Will in Your Life.” Father Haase is a popular preacher, teacher, spiritual director and chaplain at Cedarbrake. Cost for the day is $40 and includes lunch.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 3:00 PM - Sunday, March 22, 2020 2:00 PM        The Father's Heart: A Silent Retreat For Young Adults                               Eagle's Wings Retreat Center  2805 Ranch Road 2341   Burnet, TX (map)          Students & Missionaries: $100   Professionals: $175
Scholarships are available for those who need assistance with the registration fee. Please contact Adrian for more information about the scholarships. The deadline to register for this retreat is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, 2020. To sign up for this retreat, complete the registration form by clicking “REGISTER” 

The previously scheduled 16hr Zoom classes for March and April have been canceled. Please see our summer schedule for additional 16hr Theology courses.
Tuesdays 10am-12pm
March 3&17: All God’s People
BASIC TEACHINGS at the Pastoral Center (9:00-3:00)
March 7: Liturgy and Sacraments
March 28: Morality
April 25: Prayer

 DISCIPULO MISIONERO LEADERSHIP SERIES (in SPANISH) - Clase 5y6      Saturday, March 7 & April 18, 9:00 AM - 1:30 PM
St. Margaret Mary Parish Hall, Cedar Park
*Equivalency credit granted for the DRE Leadership Courses*
March 7: Exelencia en Ministerio con Jessica Ochoa
April 18: Todo el Pueblo de Dios con Edgar Ramirez

Take advantage of these Certification Level 2 & 3 classes  to be offered one per month in two-part sessions on Tuesday evenings at the Pastoral Center. Enthusiastically promote these classes to your Spanish speaking and bilingual catechists!  
Learning Theories & Learning Styles:  March 10 & 24, 2020 

Media & Technology:  April 14 & 28, 2020 
Click here for the registration form.   
Tuesday, March 10 & March 24, 2020, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Teorias / Estilo de AprendizajeLearning Theories and Styles – Rosa Bejar
El curso de las enseñanzas básicas de la fe Católica ofrece una introducción general a los principios teológicos en el Catecismo de la iglesia Católica. Este programa sirve como un primer paso en la formación básica para adultos para todos los ministerios que buscan la certificación de catequesis y evangelización.
Saturday, March 7, 2020, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM – Pastoral Center
Adult formation classes open to anyone involved in ministry or wanting to learn more about the faith. Five session topics include Introduction to Scripture, Creed, Liturgy & Sacraments, Christian Morality, and Prayer/Spirituality. (30 hours) Class time is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Please contact the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis if you have questions at 512-949-2492.
Saturday, April 4, 2020, 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM
RCIA Retreat
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults Day of Reflection is April 4 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Temple. The retreat will lead those journeying through the RCIA process to explore both our need for Christ and the meaning of Christ’s resurrection for us and for the world. The day will include prayer, music, spiritual talks, private reflection and fellowship. Cheryl Maxwell, former director of the diocesan Worship Office, will lead this retreat. Cost is $25 per person and includes lunch. Please register through your RCIA director.
Sunday March 29,2020, 7:00-9:00PM  
Purified by Jason Evert
Purified, an engaging presentation by author and speaker Jason Evert about chastity, love, and relationships, will be presented from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Dripping Springs. This event is open to students over age 13; parent attendance is encouraged. Tickets are $20 a person and can be purchased at or at the door.


DRE Deanery Meetings 

In this Catechetical Year of Accompaniment, Stay with Us, let us remember that we not only walk with our families, parents, and students on their faith journey, but we walk with each other as leaders in ministry. When we make ourselves present to one another, we grow closer to Christ. Join your fellow DREs at your next Deanery gathering:

Monday, April 6th  4:30pm
St Luke, Temple

Tuesday, March 24th, 6:00pm
Location TBA 

N. Austin/Round Rock/Georgetown:
Thursday, March 12  10am-12noon
St Vincent de Paul 

Austin South/Central

Lampasas/Marble Falls:  
Friday, March 20 10am
Good Shepherd, Lometa
San Marcos
Thursday, March 26 2pm
St John, San Marcos

Thursday, April 23  2pm
St John, San Marcos

Friday, April 24  6:30pm
St Mary, String Prairie

Friday, May 22  6:30pm
St Paul, Smithville
Monday, March 30  10am
St Mary, Brenham

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director, Office of Evangelization & Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2542 
Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation
Ph. (512) 949-2469

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator for Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2461

Sue Durango
Administrative Assistant
Ph. (512) 949-2492

Diocese of Austin - Pastoral Center
6225 Hwy 290 E, Austin, TX 78723
Phone: (512) 949-2400
Fax: (512) 949-2520

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