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Catechetical Sunday  
"I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you."

This year's theme for Catechetical Sunday is "I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you." The theme is based on the liturgical prayer for the consecration of the Eucharist.  It reminds us of our commissioning as Catechists to bring the person of Christ to every one of our students. We accompany our students in whatever way possible to help them encounter and experience the love of Jesus. The US Catholic Bishops remind us that Catechetical Sunday is a beautiful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday allows us to refocus on this mission and be of service to the community.

This month's newsletter will feature information on Catechetical Sunday, links for certificates, and the rite for commissioning Catechists.  We also include the links to our "Guidance for Sacramental Formation" document and an addendum of reference to recommended text and programs.  We continue to include links to relevant documents that offer recommendations and protocols for how to plan for in-person ministry formation programs. Please take the time to review and share these resources with your parish office and Pastor.  These resources will be beneficial as you continue to discern and plan for programs this fall. 

Maryrae continues to offer several recommendations and guidance for home-based on-line instruction.  For the formation of families and adult learners, there are links to on-line applications. Carolyn provides a listing of classes for the fall, which includes a study of the New Directory of Catechesis in both English and Spanish. We also want to introduce you to Lente Catolico, an innovative storytelling on-line resource that provides creative videos in Spanish.  Finally, we are so excited to feature one of our very own catechetical leaders, Maria Guerra, and her husband Deacon Jesus Guerra, on their fantastic work at St. Joseph in Killeen. We are so proud of Mary and Jesus for all their accomplishments and service.   

The Office of Evangelization & Catechesis and the Office of Youth, Young Adult & Campus Ministry will continue to find and develop additional resources to help in the upcoming catechetical year.  Contact any member of our offices if you have any questions or need any assistance.    

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis

Resources for Catechetical Sunday 

September 20, 2020


Commissioning Service

This ceremony for the blessing and commissioning of catechists is intended to take place at the Eucharistic liturgy on Catechetical Sunday. If this is not possible, the blessing and commissioning may be celebrated at Mass at another time, or it may be used outside of Mass, perhaps with the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours or at a simple commissioning service.

Catechetical Sunday Certificates are for use by parish leaders to be awarded to newly commissioned and returning Catechists.

Resources for Fall Catechetical Programs

Please review the following documents as you develop a parish catechetical formation plan for the fall. All of the resources below can also be found on our Diocesan Website under the two different web pages:

(COVID E&C and YYACM Resources)
(YYACM Resources)
Formation Options Memo 2020-2021
NEW - Sacramental Formation Options 2020-2021
NEW - Addendum to Sacramental Formation 2020-2021
Monthly Topics and Lessons for Catechetical Instruction
Protocols for In-Person Ministry (English)
Protocols for In-Person Ministry (Spanish)
Ministry Waiver (English)
Ministry Waiver (Spanish)


The pandemic has caused an influx of webinar opportunities into our inboxes, covering topics from “choosing a virtual platform” to “mental health considerations in teens” to “parents as teachers of faith” to “tips for your online class”. Publishers are creating digital options for textbooks, and retreats and conferences have gone virtual, providing access to learning that may not have been available during pre-pandemic times. Although the number of choices can be overwhelming, most presentations have a few take-home pearls which can make a difference in your ministry. Here are some key points from webinars I have viewed in the past few weeks:

Presentations on Making the Transition to Remote Learning:

  • Consistency: establish norms, rules, routines. Practice. Follow a timeline – create a session template.
  • Simplicity: Limit the number of tools and platforms to avoid overwhelming learners. Learn basic features well: screenshare, mute, chat, Q&A, breakout rooms
  • Safety: Get permission from parents, record lessons, send links just before the session, use Passwords.
  • Communication: Same day/time/method every week. Clear, concise instruction. Prepare learners, catechists and parents for the virtual environment.
  • Preparation: Create a faith formation setting – use religious symbols. Materials within reach. Presentation ready. Consider background music. Pre-check equipment.
  • Engagement: Content broken into small chunks – try five or six  5min segments. Students active not passive. Assign responsibilities. Use games, quizzes, polls, breakout rooms. Dress Themes. Show and Tell. Bring “guest speakers” from parish.
  • Model: Hybrid best for engagement and availability – some synchronous, some asynchronous. Use flipped model so content studied first on own and then processed during online gathering.
  • Assessment: Learners should create original work to show understanding – song, video, power point, cartoon that answers “What did I learn and how can I use it?”
“The real question is not how to use the new technologies to evangelize, but how to become an evangelizing presence on the digital continent. Catechesis cannot be carried out solely by using digital tools, but by offering spaces for experiences of faith.” (DC371)

Presentations on Assisting Parents Adapt to New Roles
  • Pray for them
  • Establish relationships by listening – what are their needs? What are their gifts?
  • Provide tutorials & use the digital resources they use every day
  • Give step by step instructions. Model for them and have them practice
  • For those less tech savvy, offer non-digital options
  • Focus on what leads them to encounter Christ
  • Emphasize that they are best suited to form their own children
  • Help them develop faith practices such as family devotions, prayers, rituals & service
  • Be an accompanier emotionally and spiritually
  • Invite families to parish events
  • Help them with issues important to them apart from RE by providing resources
  • Assist them in having faith conversations
  • Witness
  • Promote Catholic Social Teaching through simple ideas for service
  • Encourage sharing meals as a family
  • Help parents see their relationship with their children as an image of God’s relationship with us
 “The spaces for catechesis are settings in which the community expresses its own way of evangelizing. (DC222)” Consider ways that you can tie your families to the community of faith even if catechesis is virtual.

Tips for Family Sessions
  • Use heart and mind questions. Examples: How does this scripture (or painting or saint story) relate to your life this week? (after sharing: What came to mind when you listened to the response of others?
  • Family service ideas: Pray in front of a hospital for the healing of those infirmed and the health of the staff. Learn the Hail Mary or Our Father in “sign”. Gather friends and family to make a car parade in front of an elderly relative or friend’s home.
Tips for your RCIA session:
  • Plan your structure – use a timetable to pace session
  • Build-in interaction – they will disengage if just “talking heads”
  • Use stories and encourage conversation
  • Simple slides – limit text, use bullets
  • Break open the Word
  • Include ritual and song
  • Keep the social time – bring your own snack
  • Testimonials
 "CATECHETICAL SUNDAY IS SEPTEMBER 20  This year’s theme: “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you …”
For resources from the USCCB (synopsis, prayer cards, certificates and more) click here.
For several resources for Catechetical Sunday from Sadlier, click here:
A reflection for catechists and a prayer card for Catechetical Sunday from Loyola Press:

For the Catechetical Sunday toolkit from NCCL, click here.

Deaneries are encouraged to gather DREs virtually at regular intervals to share best practices, discuss challenges, create comradery, and collaborate on deanery wide events. Most deaneries meet every other month; some prefer to gather monthly. Deanery representatives are asked to send scheduled dates to their diocesan liaison who can assist with creating the Zoom links if needed. In-person meetings are discouraged during the pandemic.

  • North Austin/Round Rock/Georgetown (Zoom links will be sent the Monday before the meeting date): (All meetings 10-11am) Sept 10, Oct 8, Nov 12, Dec 10, 2020. Jan 14, Feb 11, Mar 11, Apr 15, May 13, 2021. 
  • Killeen/Temple (Zoom link will be sent on the Friday preceding the meeting): All meetings 4:00-5:00pm:Sept 14, Nov 9, 2020. Jan 11, Mar 8, May 10, 2021.

Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation 


A Different Fall is Here

Schools are opening and this year’s back to school pictures are looking a little different, but the importance of the memory is still there. Whether the student is a first-time kindergartener or a high school senior, every moment is special for a family regardless of the current challenges. Parents will put forth all their efforts to provide the best for their children.

Religious education is also being offered differently. DREs are being more creative than ever to provide formation opportunities that best suit their parish community. Most programs are in the registration process and outreach has become a priority as DREs try to reach families that have yet to register. While the tasks of calendaring dates for packet assembly, packet pick-up or virtual catechesis sessions may be new for many, the ultimate objective continues to be bringing families closer to Christ. Regardless of the number of students registered or the number of catechists that can give their time this RE year, the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us.

Throughout the last couple of months, we have offered diocesan wide DRE deanery meetings and so many of you have joined us. In August, we hosted our DRE Deanery Rep Board meeting and assigned tasks to the reps to present at the diocesan wide meeting on August 17. Our reps did such an outstanding job sharing resources, creating catechist/parent scripts, discussing various platform examples and so much more. The collaboration taking place among parish programs and throughout the diocese is commendable. Mentorship is a key factor for a DRE as is leadership—and our DREs are prime examples of both! We encourage all our DREs to participate in deanery meetings whenever possible and reach out to your deanery DREs for assistance as well as our office.

DRE Bootcamp is right around the corner on Thursday, October 1. We welcome all new, nearly new or those DREs who are needing a refresher to join us for this virtual event. We will review policies/procedures, sacraments, our DRE manual and so much more!

This fall we will continue to offer classes virtually. Below is the listing of classes and registration is now open for all.  As a reminder, the Basic Teachings will be held on Saturdays beginning in September in both English and Spanish. Our 16-hour course offering on Tuesday evenings will include Church History in September, Ecclesiology in October and Morality in November.  

We are also excited to offer a book study on the new Directory for Catechesis beginning in September on Monday evenings for English and Thursday evenings for Spanish. We hope you join us and feel free to invite your catechists as we discuss one chapter per week and reflect on the principles and guidelines. Please refer to the flyer below for more information including how to register.

Basics Teachings of the Catholic Church

Saturdays via Zoom—English
To register, click here:

September 19, 2020 Sacred Scripture 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 3, 2020 Creed 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 24, 2020 Sacraments 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 7, 2020 Morality 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 21, 2020 Prayer 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturdays via Zoom—Spanish
To register, click here:
September 19, 2020 Sagrada Escritura 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 3, 2020 Credo 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 24, 2020 Liturgia y Sacramentos 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 7, 2020 Moralidad 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 21, 2020 Oración y Espiritualidad 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Catholic Adult Formation Classes— English 16-hour courses via Zoom

To register for Church History, click here:

September 8, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
September 15, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
September 22, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
September 29, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Church / Ecclesiology, click here:
October 6, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
October 13, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
October 20, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
October 27, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Morality, click here:
November 3, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.
November 10, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.
November 17, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.
December 1, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.


Carolyn Martinez

Coordinator of Catechesis 



August Feature DRE:  Maria Guerra 

Maria is the Director of Religious Education at Saint Joseph Parish in Killeen. She married Jesus Guerra on May 27, 1983—37 years of marriage!  They have two adult children, Jonathan and Alyssabeth.

Their journey to Texas began with an assignment to Fort Hood in the winter of 1988. They attended mass at the 58th Street Chapel (now Red Team Chapel) on Fort Hood. Maria became a volunteer for Fort Hood religious education in 1994.  Jesus completed his Cursillo on Namsan Mountain in Korea in the spring of 1997. Upon returning to Fort Hood, he volunteered as a high school Confirmation catechist and youth minister for the high school group.  Maria completed her Cursillo in the summer of 1998 and both continued as catechists and part of the youth ministry team at Holy Family in Copperas Cove from 2001 until 2009.

After four years of study, Maria and Jesus completed the Diocese of Austin Adult Formation program in 2006 receiving a certificate in Religious Education. Maria and Jesus served as Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Communion and Jesus as lector. They both served as part of the “Together in God’s Love” marriage preparation team.

Both continue to serve on the Prison Ministry team for Mountain View TDCJ unit in Gatesville which is currently on hold due to Covid-19.

Jesus began diaconal formation in 2017 and is currently in the class of 2022. In July of 2019, Maria received her Director of Religious Education certification through the Diocese of Austin and serves on the DRE Deanery Representative Board.

Though their journey and calling began many years ago, they continue to learn and grow as they maintain their trust in God and know with him all things are possible.
More information and Registration for English
More information and Registration for Spanish
Click to Download this Flyer
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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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