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Preparing Ourselves for Holy Week

What a Lenten season it has been! This Lenten season has been a time of significant change, challenges, and sacrifice. As we begin to celebrate Holy Week, it is difficult to wrap our heads around, not taking part in the traditional ceremonies and liturgies associated with this most sacred time.  For many Catholics, Holy Week includes our favorite liturgies, such as the Chrism Mass, the celebration of Holy Thursday, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar of repose.  Knowing this, it is essential that we, as Catechists, DRE’s and Liturgists, take the time to reflect and remember that even though we are going through a difficult time, God is with us!

Part of our baptismal promise is to be priests, prophets, and kings. During this time, our baptismal promised are being called into action. We are people of the Resurrection.  Jesus taught us to have faith and to live by faith.  To do this, I invite you to take some time to think about how you can make this Holy week even more sacred? How can you bring the presence of Christ to your family, especially to your children at home?   
There are three things that we can do during Holy Week as a family: 
  • Place palm leaves or green clippings from the yard, tied with a ribbon (preferably a red ribbon) on the front door of your house.  This will symbolize that we are Catholic and that we welcome Jesus into our home, by allowing him to enter our hearts in preparation for his passion, death, and Resurrection.   
  • Silence is sacred. Spend the time between Holy Thursday and Good Friday in silence.  Make the experience like a silent retreat.  Take time to contemplate on the passion and death of Jesus. If possible, contemplate on the seven last words of Christ.
  • Plant new Life. If possible, as a family, use this time to work on a garden, plant a tree, colorful plants or even roses in a garden.  This helps us remember the joy of the Resurrection and eternal life. 
These are just three simple suggestions of what we can do to celebrate Holy Week.  If you have other ways, do those too.  Ask yourself, what are some things that you can come up with to celebrate Holy week in your home in a meaningful way? My brothers and sisters in Christ, may the Lord be with you as you celebrate and enter the Easter season.

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis
Click to Read Memo from Office of Worship

A Holy Week Unlike Any Other 

We are about to enter a Holy Week unlike any other – except perhaps the first one. Were not the followers of Christ in self-isolation? Fearful of the enemy? Confused and bewildered by a sudden turn of events? Afraid to hope in the promises they had been given?

     Our Holy Weeks of past years were marked by beautiful liturgies from Palm Sunday to the Chrism Mass to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. Throngs of people waving palms, witnessing washing of the feet, praying the Stations, venerating the Cross, rejoicing as the Church filled with light and new members were brought into the Body of Christ. We will certainly miss journeying into the Sacred Triduum accompanied by our community of faith.

     As we shelter in place we will have to remember what it is like to imagine – to close our eyes and place ourselves there – to listen to the readings and ask ourselves “If I were there, would I be … waving my palm branch and praising the Lord as he entered Jerusalem? …at the table with Jesus when he gave his closest friends bread and wine and told them it was his body and blood? ….left humbled, perhaps gasping, as he washed my feet? …able to pray with him in the Garden? ,,,standing up and proclaiming “Yes, I am his follower!”? …deserting him at the cross in fear? …believing the others when they say “He is risen!”?

     We can decide this Holy Week if our spirit shelters in place with our bodies, or if it joins to Christ in his suffering, his death and his glorious resurrection. We will depend on technology to experience the rituals unique to each liturgy, and to virtually connect us as community. Let us look to the Holy Spirit to bring us deeply into the mystery that we may be transformed, and our place of shelter filled, with the light of Christ. He is risen! Allelulia!
This year we will not be able to attend Holy Week services at our parish, but we can still experience this most sacred time of the year at home with our families.

 We begin with Palm Sunday. First set up your sacred space with a red cloth, a candle, the Bible and a crucifix. Place the red cloth over the crucifix.

If you have green construction paper you can cut strips in the shape of palms, one for each member.

Watch this short video together (stopping at the 2min mark to avoid commercial messages):
  • Next, assemble outside or in an adjacent room with your “palms”.
  • Go to and begin with the reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. After the Gospel, walk into the space where you have set up your altar. Continue with the reading from Isaiah, Psalm 22, and the reading from St Paul. 
  •  For the Passion Reading, assign parts: Christ, Narrator, Voice and Crowd.
  • Sit and talk about what you heard.
  •  Stand and say the Creed.
  • Offer prayers to God for our Pope, our Bishop, and our priests, our country and its leaders, our world as it struggles with the corona virus, for all who are sick, for all who have died, for any personal intentions.
  • Pray the Our Father
  • Share a sign of peace.

Kneel and Pray this Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus, 
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. 
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. 
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, 
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Make the sign of the cross. Say “Let us go forth to serve the Lord. Thanks be to God”


As an activity, try to make a cross out of your palm. 
During the week here are some videos to watch:
Palm Sunday and the Passion:
On Netflix you can find:
 Prepare the night before or Thursday morning.
Recipe for unleavened bread
1/2 cup of white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/8 tsp salt                              
3/8 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil                 
3/8 cup warm water            
2-3 tbsp honey

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Do not over stir. Pat dough into a circle on a greased cookie sheet, about 3/8 inch thick, about 5 inches round.
Score top of loaf. (Cut lightly into eight sections).  Bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

REVIEW these pages as a family:
Watch this short video (stop at 2min 30sec to avoid commercial messages):

Tune in to your parish Holy Thursday Mass (usually around 7pm) or the broadcast on  OR
Use the liturgy here:   Before beginning have a large bowl, a pitcher of water, and a small towel for each family member set aside.
  • Jesus of Nazareth
  • Go through all of the readings. Reflect on what you heard after each.
  • Silently perform a washing of the feet. This is reverent and solemn. Parents can wash each child’s foot or children can wash the feet of one of their parents.
  • When finished, pray the Our Father together. Share a sign of peace.  Share the bread you baked.
  • Kneel and pray the Act of Spiritual Communion.
  • Make the sign of the Cross. Try to have a few minutes of silence.
Day of Fasting and abstinence (from meat). For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. Abstinence is required of all 14 and older.
Adults and Older Children/Teens
Younger Children:
Family members can go outside and each find 2 sticks to make a cross. Bind together with twine.
Uncover the crucifix (covered on Palm Sunday with a red cloth). Kneel before the cross. Family members can touch or kiss the cross or simply kneel.
REJOICE – He is risen!  Gather and participate in Mass. Your parish will make it available on facebook or a youtube channel or join, EWTN,, or others.

Backyard Easter Egg Hunt.
Here is a craft to remind kids of the whole Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday & Easter Sunday). The Triduum begins Thursday eve and ends Sunday Eve, 3 chronological days but 1 liturgical experience. This craft requires scissors, glue and some paper plates.

Here is another to celebrate the resurrection:

Here are some additional resources which may be helpful to families in the coming week:  
Many DREs are considering social media platforms to connect with catechists and parents. Here is a video from Renew International that goes over how to set up a few of the most popular platforms: – video on working with small groups online

For those interested in Zoom this link takes you to the Basic Zoom described below: Sign up, It's Free

ZOOM Basic: Personal Meeting – FREE  
Host up to 100 participants
Unlimited 1 to 1 meetings
40 mins limit on group meetings
Unlimited number of meetings
Online support

We've decided to email packets to the First Communion candidates and virtual with the Confirmation candidates, it's a learning process needless to say.  Makes it difficult with shelter at home order but the good Lord is providing.    Becky Salazar, Sacred Heart – Waco
Each catechist is talking to their students either through zoom or phone to phone or email they are sending their information from Pflaum. The ones who have zoom are teaching their lessons that way. I connect with the catechists on Sunday and Wednesday like I do if we had normal class - touch base, check in, get their wants and needs and also check to see how their families are doing. I think its very important to reach out to the catechist and the catechist to reach out to their student families and just do a check in.  Frank Ledesma, St. Albert the Great - Austin
I have been sharing different Masses as that go live and hosting watch parties.
Sharing & Praise and Worship on our Youth Facebook page . Last Sunday our St.Monica Youth Joined in on the Project YM Live ,I sent links to all my Youths parents. Also sent links to At Home Family Catechesis through Formed.    Sonia Vega-Perez, St Monica – Cameron
I teach middle & high school teens & we are using a program from the Franciscan University called "Metonia" it means a change of mind, a new way of loving others and God.  This is an eight episode program lasting about 30 minutes each.  I will send out 3 discussion questions for the family to talk about.  It is a series that the whole family can watch & takes place in the Holy Land.  It is a way to give our first teachers of the faith (parents) a chance to grow in faith together.  Melissa Minnich, St John Vianney – Round Rock
I am using Zoom as a means of keeping small groups connected in addition to Catholic TV as a free app for videos and daily mass.  Mostly, small group connection has been good for me in the way of connection although, we post to the Facebook page fairly regularly. Deborah and I use Flocknotes as a means of texting families, students, and catechists.  Priscilla Ruiz, Ascension – Bastrop
We have 3 teachers who will create the videos and the rest will help prepare the lessons. This is the advantage of the Gospel Weeklies. 
I will be honest with you, Pflaum and Luisa have been great at providing us free tools, lesson ideas, and information which has helped us with our lessons. 
I love the idea of being able to reach out to our catechists, via Zoom and FaceTime. Father Ryan set up a Zoom account for RE and I am so grateful to him for doing that. 
Zulma Diaz, St Louis – Waco

 Fr. Brian is also offering daily reflections/homilies on the daily mass, as well as live-streaming mass at 10am Sunday (English) and 12:30pm Sunday (Spanish).
Now he has started a daily family rosary at 7:30pm.  He is asking for family volunteers to partner with him in leading the rosary.
I am passing on information to my RE families through their Catechists, which means I try to model that interaction, by calling my catechists and checking in with them weekly (I also send them script updates to share with their student/families).
I will also do a Constant Contact Newsletter update for RE Families and Parish.  
Youth ministry/middle school ministry is tapping into Project YM virtual gatherings and now life teen will have anchored virtual YM Gatherings.  Nancy Longo, St Patrick - Hutto

At St. Austin we have been doing daily live Mass, Wednesday Rosary, weekly newsletters on the readings with lessons for kids, parents, and plenty of zoom meetings. We have moved everything that we were doing in person to either zoom or google meets and we have not missed a beat. Rachel Vaughn, St Austin
 (More to come in our next newsletter!)

Maryrae Stein
Associate Director of Catechesis and Formation  

An Unusual New Normal 

On an ordinary day, it takes me over an hour to get to work in the mornings and in the evening normally about 1.5 hours to make my way back home.  I don’t take the toll and use this as my quiet reflection or prayer time.

Now things are very different—in a matter of seconds I can be at my newly established corner (bedroom) office prioritizing what needs to be emailed, scheduled or communicated. We are truly blessed with technology that connects us in so many ways and yet, unbelievably, we still struggle to reach all. No morning in-person chats with co-workers as we squish ourselves in the tiny  kitchenette to decide which coffee flavor we should make, no, just me and my sole cup. This is the new normal 

We are fortunate that companies like Zoom, Spectrum and others are offering free access right now when so many people, young and older, need the technology but cannot always afford it. With the loss of jobs, hours, pay cuts and then schools being forced to shut their doors—we also need empathy.

Empathy—that reminds us to think of the elderly neighbor who lives alone, the single mom with several kids, the parents who do not know how they will pay their bills, the small business owner who had to close their doors, all those who have underlying health conditions, all our students who are filled with more anxiety and stress—the list is endless. Empathy, that reminds us to put other before ourselves and remember and have compassion for all our brothers and sisters here and around the world. We are reminded to reflect on our own lives and what we can ourselves do better—a new normal.

In the evenings, I usually send out emails to my RE families to check-in with them and include prayers, links to YouTube videos, and other resources. I have a few families I must text or call because that is all they have and that is okay with me. Communication and interaction is key. Everything you do to reach your program families is appreciated; maybe all the work won’t be completed but just maybe their family is praying a little more or sharing a little more and God is right there with them.

As I read the news about how everyone is affected by COVID-19, I am reminded of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. As I review both lists, I see there is so much we can do even from our bedrooms or living rooms. The different formats all of you are using to continue to instruct your students and families is a prime example of living our faith. The dedication you give to reach out to families via Zoom, YouTube, email, or phone helps keep human contact and not only builds community but strengthens those relationships ultimately to bring encounters.

Deanery Meetings Scheduled for April
Since all in-person meetings have been canceled, the following Zoom deanery meetings have been scheduled. Prior to the meeting, I will be forwarding the Zoom link. Please note that some deaneries have been combined in order to schedule all for April.  The E & C staff will participate in these meetings. This will be an opportunity for prayer, support and sharing—we hope you can attend.
Bryan /CS/Brenham/LaGrange—Monday, April 6, at 10 a.m.
Austin North/Georgetown/Round Rock—Thursday, April 16, at 10:30 a.m.
Lampasas/Marble Falls—Friday, April 17, at 10 a.m.
Waco/Temple/Killeen—Monday, April 20 at 4 p.m.  
San Marcos/Austin South/Austin Central—Thursday, April 23, at 10:30 a.m.
Bastrop—Friday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m.

Certification Classes Online Via Zoom—April and May

We know everyone has very busy schedules right now but we realize that there are individuals who would be able to benefit from some online Zoom classes. Therefore, classes have been scheduled for the months of April and May. 

The Effective Catechetical Leadership series (on the DRE track) is scheduled for April—with the first class beginning tomorrow! THE ECL classes will be offered in both English during the afternoon and Spanish in the evening. These are four-hour classes that will be offered in two-part sessions.

The Basic Teachings Program is scheduled for May in both English during the afternoon and Spanish in the evening. The Basic Teachings are normally six-hour classes per title, because we realize many people have children at home or are juggling multiple responsibilities during this time, each topic will be reduced to four hours allowing for two 2-hour sessions.

  • Individuals must attend both sessions for certification credit.
  • No makeup work for missed sessions will be granted.
  • These are being offered at NO CHARGE to all participants.
  • Books will not be provided; however, handouts will be emailed.
Many have lost jobs or hours cut so we recognize this and hope this special online offering of certification classes that are free of charge helps everyone.
Registration link (fully bilingual):
April 1, 2020 Called by Name Part 1 1-3 p.m. / Wednesday
April 2, 2020 Called by Name Part 2 1-3 p.m. / Thursday
April 6, 2020 Catechetical Leadership Part 1 1-3 p.m. / Monday
April 7, 2020 Catechetical Leadership Part 2 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
April 13, 2020 Developing Disciples of Christ Part 1 1-3 p.m. / Monday
April 14, 2020 Developing Disciples of Christ Part 2 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
April 16, 2020 Cultivating Your Catechists Part 1 1-3 p.m. / Thursday
April 23, 2020 Cultivating Your Catechists Part 2 1-3 p.m. / Thursday
April 20, 2020 Excellence in Ministry Part 1 1-3 p.m. / Monday
April 21, 2020 Excellence in Ministry Part 2 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
April 27, 2020 All God's People Part 1 1-3 p.m. / Monday
April 28, 2020 All God's People Part 2 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
April 1, 2020 Llamados Por Nuestro Nombre Parte 1 7-9 p.m. / Wednesday
April 2, 2020 Llamados Por Nuestro Nombre Parte 2 7-9 p.m. / Thursday
April 6, 2020 Liderazgo Catequetico Parte 1 7-9 p.m. / Monday
April 7, 2020 Liderazgo Catequetico Parte 2 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
April 13, 2020 Formar Discipulos de Cristo Parte 1 7-9 p.m. / Monday
April 14, 2020 Formar Discipulos de Cristo Parte 2 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
April 16, 2020 Cultivar Catequistas Parte 1 7-9 p.m. / Thursday
April 23, 2020 Cultivar Catequistas Parte 2 7-9 p.m. / Thursday
April 20, 2020 Excelencia en el Ministerio Parte 1 7-9 p.m. / Monday
April 21, 2020 Excelencia en el Ministerio Parte 2 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
April 27, 2020 Todo el Pueblo de Dios Parte 1 7-9 p.m. / Monday
April 28, 2020 Todo el Pueblo de Dios Parte 2 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
May 4, 2020 Basic Teachings--Sacred Scripture 1-3 p.m. / Monday
May 5, 2020 Basic Teachings--Sacred Scripture 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
May 11, 2020 Basic Teachings--Creed 1-3 p.m. / Monday
May 12, 2020 Basic Teachings--Creed 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
May 7, 2020 Basic Teachings--Sacraments 1-3 p.m. / Thursday
May 14, 2020 Basic Teachings--Sacraments 1-3 p.m. / Thursday
May 18, 2020 Basic Teachings--Morality 1-3 p.m. / Monday
May 19, 2020 Basic Teachings--Morality 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
May 26, 2020 Basic Teachings--Prayer & Spirituality 1-3 p.m. / Tuesday
May 27, 2020 Basic Teachings--Prayer & Spirituality 1-3 p.m. / Wednesday
May 4, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Sagrada Escritura 7-9 p.m. / Monday
May 5, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Sagrada Escritura 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
May 11, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Credo 7-9 p.m. / Monday
May 12, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Credo 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
May 7, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Sacramentos 7-9 p.m. / Thursday
May 14, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Sacramentos 7-9 p.m. / Thursday
May 18, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Moralidad 7-9 p.m. / Monday
May 19, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Moralidad 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
May 26, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Oracion y Espiritualidad 7-9 p.m. / Tuesday
May 27, 2020 Ensenanzas Basicas--Oracion y Espiritualidad 7-9 p.m. / Wednesday

Due to there just not being enough weeks in each month and limited instructor availability, a few classes are being offered with sessions on two Thursdays. This allowed the entire ECL series to be completed in April and all the Basic classes in May. 


The publisher you purchased materials from has online resources to assist you in providing lessons to do at home:

LOYOLA (Finding God):


SADLIER: (We Believe, Our Catholic Faith):

Message from Sadlier with additional information
Username: SadlierStudent
Password: ReadyToLearn!

RCL BENZIGER (Be My Disciples, Blest are We): 

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR (Alive in Christ, Faith Fusion):

Message from our Sunday Visitor with additional resources



Team RCIA:

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator of Catechesis 

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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