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Blessings to you during Advent and the Christmas Season

Advent has always been a time to wait patiently, a time to slow down, to pause our day to day activities and to prepare for the coming of the Lord.  The month of December is also full of festivities and solemnities along with the opportunity to accompany Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem in the posadas.

In the catechetical world, this can also be a time full of activities with the hustle and bustle of preparation for the end of the year.  I hope everyone encounters joy in all these festivities and focuses on the true essence of the season, the Birth of Christ.  We are also invited to reflect on the year and take the opportunity to thank God for the countless blessings.  The Office of Evangelization and Catechesis wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and continuous blessings for the year to come.   

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis


A Big THANK YOU to Joe Paprocki for blessing us with an inspiring workshop on his valuable resource Beyond the Catechist Toolbox! Here are some of the key points that he shared with close to 90 participants from all parts of the diocese :

  • We are not teachers of a subject; we are facilitators of encounter
  • An encounter with Jesus is an encounter with mystery; integrating the language of mystery creates a climate of prayer rather than a climate of school
  • The language of mystery includes ritual, works of mercy, sacred space, symbols, music, silence, storytelling and gestures. To articulate an experience of the profound, an invisible reality, we need more than just words.
  • The catechetical process engages the student by using environment, music, ritual and action that connects to their lives, presents them with a “Big Idea” of what the lesson is about, faithfully transmits lesson content, provides time for reflection (time to approach Jesus in prayer), and sends them out with suggested action steps to live out the faith teaching.

GOOD NEWS! If you were not able to join us, The following link will connect you to video recordings of the presentation.  Beyond the Catechetical Toolbox

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 December 12 from 1-3pm at St Thomas Moore in NW Austin (RE Conference Room).
The Diocese of Austin Office of Life, Charity and Justice invites all to “Open Wide our Hearts … to be Drum Majors for Justice”, a commemoration of the contributions of Dr. King in the fight for civil rights in the United States. Join Bishop Joe Vasquez, Bishop Brendan J. Cahill (Diocese of Victoria), Fr. James Misko, and the Holy Cross Parish choir for prayer, music, worship and a reception. Jan. 11 @ 11am - St John Neumann Catholic Church, Austin.
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.
Last year at the luncheon for the Assembly of Catholic Professionals, Bishop Mike Sis from the Diocese of San Angelo discussed the meaning behind the signs and symbols of Christmas. This wonderful presentation is available to view at the following link: 
Tuesday, January 22, the Church in the United States observes the annual “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” This day is set aside to pray for the legal protection of human life and to do penance for the violations to human dignity through abortion. We are called to observe this day through prayer and penance. More information:

The Diocese of Austin will celebrate Texas Pro-Life Day on
Saturday, January 25th.

In addition, the USCCB also sponsors an annual, nationwide novena called “9 Days for Life,” which surrounds the liturgical observance of the Day of Prayer. Each day for nine days, a different intention is featured, accompanied by a short reflection, suggested actions, and related information as we pray for the respect and protection of every human life. In 2020, the novena will take place Jan 21 –  29. For daily intentions, brief reflections, and more, sign up at!  

Blessed are you among women and
Blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus

December 8 (moved to Dec 9 this year):

Feast of the Immaculate Conception  

Under this title, Mary is national patroness of the United States. The title celebrates her being conceived without original sin.

Short videos on this feast:
Immaculate Conception (Dr. Edward Sri) - adults
Immaculate Conception (Fr. Mike Schmitz) - youth

December 12: 
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe 

This feast commemorates the 4 appearances in 1531 of Mary to Juan Diego, a Christian Aztec peasant. An image with olive skin, black hair, and the clothing of an Aztec princess, Mary brought new dignity to the oppressed people, and the years following saw millions be baptized.  

January 1
Mary, Mother of God
In Greek, Theotokos, a name conferred at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The divine motherhood referred to by Elizabeth when she calls Mary “mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43)
Mary, Mother of God (Dr. Sri)
Why we call Mary Mother (Fr. Mike)

Sun Jan 12, 2020
Before the Angelus on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in 2019, Pope Francis said: “At the conclusion of the Liturgical Season of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The liturgy calls us to more fully get to know Jesus, whose birth we have just celebrated. Before immersing himself in the water, Jesus ‘immerses’ himself in the crowd; he joins it, fully taking on the human condition, sharing everything, except sin. In his divine holiness, full of grace and mercy, the Son of God became flesh precisely to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world. After his immersion in the people and in the waters of the Jordan, Jesus  ‘immerses’ himself in prayer, that is, in communion with the Father. Baptism is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, of his mission in the world as the envoy of the Father in order to manifest his goodness and his love for mankind.  I could ask: ‘Who among you knows the date of his or her Baptism?’. Discover it, and do not forget it: let it be a date kept in your heart to be celebrated every year!”                     
Bishop Barron on the baptism of Jesus

By means of the Motu Proprio Aperuit Illis, promulgated on 30 September 2019 (the liturgical memorial of St. Jerome), Pope Francis has established that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.  Francis invites all Catholic communities to live this Sunday “with a certain solemnity,” including the enthronement of the sacred text.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said that with this apostolic letter, the pope "invites us to hold the word of God in our hands every day as much as possible so that it becomes our prayer" and a greater part of one's lived experience.

Pope Francis writes, “Catechists, too, in their ministry of helping people to grow in their faith, ought to feel an urgent need for personal renewal through familiarity with, and study of, the sacred Scriptures. This will help them foster in their hearers a true dialogue with the word of God.”
Enthroning the Bible in the Family

In the Roman Catholic Church, we mark time in relation to Christ. In the liturgical year, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent and concluding with the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church lives and celebrates the mystery of Christ. The history of salvation unfolds throughout the liturgical year. In addition to celebrating the mystery of Christ, we also honor Mary, the Mother of God, and commemorate the apostles, martyrs and saints.

An explanation of the liturgical year for all ages 

Liturgical catechesis draws on the liturgical cycle, the sacramental symbols and the ritual prayers and gestures of the liturgy as its first and primary source. It includes preparation for encountering Christ in the liturgy, participation in the liturgy, and reflection on how their experience helps them live the Christian life.
Following are some resources to help catechists journey through the gospels:

Maryrae Stein
Associate Director of Catechesis and Formation                                         

DRE Manuals 

We met our Advent goal! We promised to have the new Religious Education Guidelines and Evangelization & Catechesis Manual ready for distribution for Advent and at our Joe Paprocki workshop on December 2 all DREs present received their copy.  We are so excited to be able to offer you this incredible resource tool. Copies will be distributed at deanery meetings or arrangements can be made to stop by for a visit and pick up your copy. Manuals are for DREs only.  
We have also created a new web page in our Evangelization & Catechesis webpages titled E&C DRE Manual. This webpage includes the entire index of the hardcopy manual and each index item is linked directly to appropriate webpages or documents for your convenience. If you have any questions, please let us know.  

Deanery Representative Board Meeting
We will be hosting a meeting on February 11 for the Deanery Representative Board at the Pastoral Center from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. All board members are asked to attend. A reminder and RSVP instructions will be emailed in January. If you have any questions, please contact Carolyn at (512) 949-2461.
DRE Orientation  
On Monday, January 13, we will be hosting DRE Orientation Day at the Pastoral Center from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.  All new or nearly new DREs and those needing a refresher are welcomed and encouraged to attend.   
A general overview of responsibilities will be discussed to better equip DREs to understand their role as the parish catechetical leader. Items of discussion include:  Policies, curriculum, sacramental preparation, EIM, deanery meetings, certification, and so much more! 
You are welcome to RSVP to and we encourage all DREs to share this date with any new DRE in your deanery. Deadline for your RSVP is Wednesday, January 8. If you have any questions, please call Carolyn at (512) 949-2461. 
Holiday Closure 
We get a break too! The Pastoral Center will be closed from December 24 – January 2. Offices reopen on January 3.  
Our hope is that all of you also take some well-deserved time to spend with your families and friends to celebrate the Christmas season.  Whether it’s traveling around the country to visit family, baking all the last-minute Christmas cookies or sitting in front of the television watching Hallmark, we pray all of you take some time for personal reflection, relaxation and rejuvenation.  Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  

Carolyn Martinez                                        
Coordinator of Catechesis

2020 Spanish Winter/Spring Classes 


Four classes from Level 2 & 3 have been scheduled to be offered one per month in two-part sessions on Tuesday evenings at the Pastoral Center. Please help promote these classes to your Spanish speaking and bilingual catechists!  

National Directory for Catechesis:  January 14 & 28, 2020 

New Evangelization & Catechesis:  February 11 & 25, 2020 

Learning Theories & Learning Styles:  March 10 & 24, 2020 

Media & Technology:  April 14 & 28, 2020 

Click here for the registration form.  

Please contact Debbie Green if you are a catechist or a DRE outside of the Bryan/College Station/Brenham/LaGrange Deanery and would like to attend the retreat.
Debbie Green, (979) 968-3430 Ext. 6 or
Please Click for Registration Form

One Day Retreat – Silence with the Sacraments, Choose Thu Dec 5,12,or19   10a-4p
Spend a day entering into the Advent Season. A private bedroom will be available and lunch provided. Mass and Reconciliation will be offered. Arrive between am&10am and depart by 4pm. Cost is $40.
Weekend Retreat - Silent Advent Retreat,  Fri  Dec 6, 6pm – Sun Dec 8,11:30 AM
The Silent Advent Retreat will be Dec. 6-8, at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton. This popular annual retreat is a great way to slow down and connect with our Lord as we enter into the Advent Season. Mass, confession and adoration will be part of the weekend. Cost for the weekend is $225 single, $190 per person double.
Weekend Retreat Jan. 3-5, 2020  Second Annual Biblical Institute with Fr. Bill Burton
Begins on Friday, January 3, 6:30 PM The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles In this workshop, Fr. Bill Burton will consider both the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles and seek to understand and intrepret these two books as a single account.
The School for Contemplative Living: Wednesday, January 15, 9:00 AM
The School of Contemplative Living at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton begins Jan. 15 and is held each Wednesday for six weeks, ending Feb. 19. Cost for the entire semester of six classes is $250 and includes lunch. See our website, for more details.
One Day Retreat - Ash Wednesday, Day of Reflection Wed, Feb 26, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm
The Ash Wednesday Retreat will be held Feb. 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.. Lent is a time to follow Christ even more interiorly as He shows us the way to live His Father's will. Franciscan Father Albert Haase, Brian Egan and Beverly Collin will lead this day, which will include Mass and the distribution of ashes. Cost is $40 and includes lunch. For more information or to register, call (254) 780-2436. information to follow. Online registration will be available soon.

Methodology Workshops:
Dr. Edward Sri – Friday Feb 7 – Time TBA – Pastoral Center
Save these dates: Mondays March 2 & April 20 – Publisher Sponsored Presentations 9:30-3 @ Pastoral Center
16hr Classes via Zoom:
Thursday evenings 6:30-9:30pm; registration required during the preceding month – an email link will be sent. Each class has 4 sessions. Attendance is required at all four.
January: Catholic Social Teaching
February: Old Testament/Sacred Scripture
March: New Testament/Christology
April: Sacramental Theology
Effective Catechetical Leader Series (for DRE certification): Tuesdays 10am-12pm
January 7&21: Cultivating Your Catechists
February 4&18: Excellence in Ministry
March 3&17: All God’s People
Basic Teachings
December 8&15 (2-5): Prayer & Spirituality (LaGrange)
December 21: Morality (Corn Hill)
January 13&20 (6:30-9:30) : Scripture (Dripping Springs)
January 18 (9:30-3:30): Morality (Llano)
January 25 (9-3): Scripture (Pastoral Center)
January 25 (9-3): Prayer (Corn Hill)
To register go to
For information on scheduling the Basic Teachings at your parish contact Carolyn Martinez (
Discipulo Misionero Series resumes Saturday, February 1, 9:00 AM - 1:30 PM
St. Margaret Mary Parish Hall, Cedar Park:  Cultivar Lideres con Anna Chavez


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:

Feb 10 4:30pm
St Luke, Temple

Jan 14 6pm
Sacred Heart, Waco

N. Austin/Round Rock/Georgetown:
Jan 9  10am
St Cyril & Methodius, Granger

Austin South/Central
Jan 9  10:30am
St John Neumann

Lampasas/Marble Falls:  
January 24, 1 pm
St. John, Marble Falls  
San Marcos: 
December 12, 10 a.m.
St Martin de Porres, Dripping Springs 

January 10, 6:30 pm
St. Mary of the Assumption, String Prairie
February 21, 6:30 pm
Sacred Heart, Rockne
February 10, 10 a.m.
St. Anthony, Bryan

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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