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Advent + Maranatha + Parousia 

Finally, the season of Advent is here! Last week, parishes around the world lit the first violet candle as a symbol of hope.  2020 has been an unprecedented year of change and loss.  How beautiful it is that we get to reflect on the power and the beauty of hope.  In trying times, it is hope coupled with faith that keeps us going.  During this fast and eventful time, I encourage you to find a short moment in the day to reflect on the journey that Mary and Joseph took towards Bethlehem.  They too were part of a journey filled with unknown and hope.  They faced many challenges in their time and hope and faith in the Lord helped them overcome.  

Take some time this advent to reflect on the times where hope sustained you and helped you practice resilience.  Take time to reflect and give thanks no matter what the situation was.  Find the blessings and opportunities for stewardship in every moment in life.  Where can you share your blessing with others?  

On a final note, we will be offering a Mini retreat for Directors of Religious Education and Catechetical leaders within our diocese on Dec 16th as a way to help us prepare ourselves for the holidays.  

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis

Holy men and women who brighten the path to Christmas!


Dec 3: St. Francis Xavier
This 16th-century missionary apostle, perhaps second only to St. Paul in his travels, had initially planned on a leisurely intellectual life but answered a call from God to a very different path. Francis became a friend of Ignatius of Loyola. This relationship gradually revolutionized his life and led him to become a missionary. In 1534, Francis Xavier was among the first seven men to decide to formally join Ignatius of Loyola’s community. They were the first Jesuits, and Francis was ordained a priest three years later. Francis’s missionary methods were primitive, but his cheerful disposition attracted others to him. Amazingly, Xavier spread the gospel so far and to so many with such little grasp of their languages. Miracles of healing, however, occurred frequently in his ministry to poor villages. In his passion for spreading the gospel, in his simple obedience, in his humble disregard for himself, St Francis was a near-perfect imitation of Christ.

Dec 6: St Nicholas
Nicholas was born in Greece in the year 270. His wealthy parents died when he was still quite young; he was raised by his uncle (also named Nicholas), a bishop, who eventually ordained Nicholas a priest. Like so many other early Christian saints, Nicholas was inspired by Jesus’ words to the rich young man to “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:21). He devoted his entire inheritance to help the poor and needy.  Perhaps the most wide-spread tradition connected to the feast of St. Nicholas (December 6) involves the bishop “visiting” the homes of children. Now, on the eve of the feast day, children leave their shoes outside so that St. Nicholas can fill them with treats overnight. Perhaps your family can adopt this tradition!   

Dec 7: St. Ambrose

Ambrose was a governor who found himself elected bishop even though he was not yet baptized! Over the next several months, Ambrose was baptized, ordained, and consecrated bishop. After his election as bishop, Ambrose turned his attention from political government to church government. Immediately he gave a share of his family's money to the poor and encouraged others to do so. He took a firm stand in controversial matters of Church and state, stating, “The emperor is in the Church, not above it. Even the rulers must obey the laws of God.”

Dec 9 St. Juan Diego & Dec 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe 
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe recalls the appearance in 1531 of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego, a native who had recently converted to Catholicism, at a place called Tepeyac in what is now Mexico City. He was on his way to Mass one cold December morning when Our Lady appeared to him on a hill called Tepeyac and spoke to him in his native tongue. She ordered him to tell the bishop of Mexico City to build a church there in her honor. The bishop hesitated, then asked Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign in order to assist him in his decision. On his return home, Juan Diego again encountered the Virgin, who promised to provide him with a sign. The next day she ordered him to climb the barren hill and gather the roses he would find on its summit and take them to the bishop. Juan Diego did so, and when he opened his tilma for the bishop, the roses fell and on the tilma was a portrait of Virgin just as Juan Diego had seen her: With her dark skin and hair like the native peoples, she attracted many to her. A shrine was immediately built on Tepeyac, and in the next decade between 8 and 10 million natives were converted to the faith, the most since apostolic times. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of the Americas.

Dec 13   St Lucy 
Saint Lucy, or Saint Lucia (Italian: Santa Lucia), was a young Christian martyr. Lucy, whose name means “light” is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye trouble. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as an event that points to the arrival of the Light of Christ.


Dec 14 St. John of the Cross
John was a reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest. He was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 and labored with Teresa of Avila in the work of reform, which led to persecution and imprisonment. His writings speak of the path of union with God: discipline, abandonment to possession, purification, and denial of self. He is the patron saint of mystics. 

Beginning his encyclical letter with the counsel of St Francis of Assisi to “strive for a love that transcends borders”, Pope Francis calls for a “universal aspiration to fraternity”, attainable only when we support and help each other. He challenges us to “dream as a single human family, each  with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all (8).” Theologian Bill Huebsch shares insights on Pope Francis’s newest encyclical, calling it the most powerful publication since Pacem in Terris (1963), Pope John XXIII’s encyclical on establishing universal peace. Bill Huebsch’s excellent (video) summary of Fratelli Tutti is available here.

Preventing BURNOUT
The holiday season and the challenges to ministry brought by the COVID-19 pandemic are factors which can bring about added stress and the risk of burnout if we do not take steps to take care of ourselves. If you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, unmotivated or easily irritated, you may be suffering from “compassion fatigue”. The antidote? Self-compassion!! Take a few minutes to view this webinar from Ave Maria Press presented by Debra Kelsey-Davis and Kelly Johnson to discover the warning signs of compassion fatigue and the good self-care practices that can help you avoid it.  
First weekend in December a FREE international family conference from Parousia called A JESUS CENTERED LIFE

Ideas for the advent wreath, the Jesse tree and an advent calendar.

Free daily Advent retreat session with Chris Stefanick of REALLIFECATHOLIC! Short videos to help you grow closer to Christ and experience an unshakeable joy.

10 ideas for families during advent
Great comprehensive “playlist” of Advent activities and resources for families

Our Christmas Season as Catholics begins on Christmas Eve and ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. To help us arrive spiritually in a place ready to receive that joy, we have customs and traditions that prepare our hearts for Christ. Three such customs are the O Antiphons, Las Posadas, and Simbang Gabi. These novenas challenge us to make room for our savior.

O Antiphons: This monastic tradition begins with Evening Prayer on December 17th and concludes with Evening Prayer on December 23rd. The Church prays a special series of antiphons – the verses recited before the singing of the Magnificat, Mary’s Canticle. Each antiphon calls upon the Lord to come, both now at Christmas and at the end of time, and each uses a symbolic title for him drawn from Old Testament prophecies. Because each invocation begins with the formal term of address “O,” the prayers are known as the O Antiphons. Find them on the USCCB website here.

Las Posadas (“The Inns”): This 600 yr old tradition from Mexico is a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph searching for shelter upon arriving at Bethlehem. A processional novena, Las Posadas begins on December 16th and concludes on Christmas Eve. Mary and Joseph lead the procession to an “inn” where they request lodging and are denied twice then admitted through the singing of a special song. Once inside there are prayers, songs and festivities involving traditional foods. For a brief description and a copy of the song in Spanish and English click here.

Simbang Gabi (Gathering in Darkness): A 600yr old custom from the Filipino Catholic Community, Simbang Gabi is a series of nine Masses celebrated in the hours before dawn each day from Dec 16-Dec24. Accompanying Mary in her 9 months of pregnancy, the people process with star-shaped lanterns called parols as early as 3:30 am to the Church, where they are greeted by music, followed by the celebration of Mass, and a time to share food.

Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation 




Join the discussions on the Directory for Catechesis to keep abreast of the most recent directives and guidelines for catechesis in today’s world. English sessions are on Mondays at 7pm, and Spanish sessions are on Thursdays at 7pm. Both meet twice monthly and are open to all, regardless of participation in prior sessions. Below is the schedule of dates and topics. Please read the material ahead of time and jot down any questions, insights, or passages that you would love to bring up for discussion. If you are not currently receiving the zoom link for the sessions and would like to join, please register at links below. 



Nov 30 8: Catechesis in the Lives of Persons
3 de Dic 8: La Catequesis en la Vida de las Personas
Dec 14 9: The Christian Community as Participant in Catechesis
17 de Dic 9: La Comunidad Cristiana Sujeto de la Catequesis
Jan 11 10: Catechesis in the Face of Contemporary Cultural Scenarios
14 de Ene 10: La Catequesis Frente a los Escenarios Culturales Contemporáneos
Jan 25 11 & 12: Catechesis at the Service of the Inculturation of the Faith and The Organisms at the Service of Catechesis
28 de Ene 11 & 12: La Catequesis al Servicio de la Inculturación de la Fe y Los Organismos al Servicio de la Catequesis
More information and Registration for English
More information and Registration for Spanish

Time of Perseverance


“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”  John 16:33

The verse above gives much for reflection with strong words including peace, trouble, courage and conquered—words that go well with 2020.

It is now December and as the year comes closer to ending quite differently than in years’ past, we know God continues to be with us. The troubles along with uncertainties have dramatically changed our lives but through this we have found courage. 

DREs and Catechetical Leaders welcomed new ways of thinking outside-the-box and were open to creative and innovative ways using different platforms that were in many instances tools and resources that were unfamiliar to them. Whether they learned these by watching videos on YouTube or with the assistance of their peers, the added stresses or anxieties were not greater than the courage given to them by God.  They did not allow fear to hold them back or the extra time and effort that it would require to obtain the necessary knowledge to persevere.

As we continue through the Advent season and wait for the coming of our Lord, I think of all the traditional parish program activities that are usually planned for this month such as the Christmas pageants, children’s choir performances, dinners, parish family gatherings and so much more. Even though these events may look differently this year, with God’s guidance, our leaders are conquering obstacles and once again using their creativity for a sense of normalcy.

I have invited some of our leaders to share statements on how they will continue with tradition for their parish community. I pray for an end of this pandemic and with God’s grace we will persevere.

 “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. They opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” 
Matthew 2:10-11


Statements of Courage, Joy, & Perseverance from some of our Catechetical Leaders

 Erik Diaz, Santa Cruz, Buda

           “It has been a long tradition that the Religious Education Office does a Christmas Pageant at the Children's Christmas Mass.  Our parish RE classes are virtual this year.  We are working on a virtual Christmas pageant. This will consist of all ages from children, youth, and adults.  We are also partnering with our choral ministry to assist with the music.  We are excited to see the finished product!”
Lucille D’Elia, Holy Trinity, Corn Hill
          “Like everyone else, we have had to change things up a bit here at Holy Trinity.  We are truly blessed to be able to have our classes in person, but our traditional celebrations have been curtailed.  What we will do however, is still have our St. Nicholas movie, crafts and games but it will take place in the classrooms.  When the children leave, they will find their St. Nicholas treat bags in the hallway next to their shoes.  The families will each receive an Advent packet with all types of materials including pamphlets, crafts and lots of coloring pages to help them teach their children the true meaning of the Christmas season. A very important tradition that we will still proceed with is that our teens decorate the church for Advent.  We won't have the big party afterwards, but we will still do the important work of setting the stage for the Christ child. I am so thankful for the wonderful families here at Holy Trinity and for Father Stephen who shows us all in every way how wonderful it is to be a Catholic.”

Karen Kurtin, Santa Rosa, Andice

          “We are thankful for Father Larry who continues to joyfully offer the Sacraments and thankful for our Santa Rosa Food Pantry that continues to provide for the growing needs of our community. Our last packet pick up was filled with excitement as parents picked up new materials as well as fun Advent crafts for their families. The light of Christ is leading us through these challenging times. Jesus, I trust in you!”
Nancy Longo, St. Patrick, Hutto

          “We had some challenges in the beginning because some parents were so paralyzed from fear of trying or fear from failure.  They needed more encouragement and handholding, which is exactly what we were there for.  However, as the months pass, we have found success in which parents are finding it is a joy to watch the Ah-ha moments of faith with their own children.  Parents are having Ah-ha moments for themselves, too! Older children are helping younger children, too! The personal blessing for me is that I get to know my parents better through the Zoom small group gatherings.  I am getting to know my catechists better since we now have monthly Zoom gatherings to share faith and pray. It has been a challenge to prepare in new ways, but that is also a blessing, as it gets us out of our ruts!!!”
Kathy Belyeu, Good Shepherd, Lometa

          “We are using a picture of a stable, with Baby Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph and sending home a little angel for our elementary students to color and paste onto the page.  We are also sending stars and telling the students to say a Hail Mary every day between now and Christmas day and put a star in the sky to give to Baby Jesus for his birthday.  We would normally have them bring them to the nativity scene at the Church, but this year, we are asking them to put it with their home Nativity scene to give Jesus his birthday gift. 

          What I am most thankful for this year are my teachers who this year have worked side-by-side with me preparing packets and grading assessments sent back.  I am thankful for Adelaide Martinez, Missy Buckley, and my husband, Wayne Belyeu.  I am also thankful for the parents who are very engaged in this unique time and working with their children and their religious education.”
Verónica Rodriguez, St. Albert the Great, Austin

          “We continue to move forward with teaching on Advent by providing the Advent wreath and prayer for each week while some teachers give the material for the students to make their own. We plan to continue with our posadas having children dress as Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, angels and some animals. They will be inside the church while the parishioners will be outside keeping with social distance guidelines. In lieu of piñatas, we will distribute bags with candies, pan dulce and chocolate.  In addition, the little ones will receive Christmas ornaments that they will be coloring and putting on their Christmas tree and for the older ones we are giving stickers for them to make a nativity set.”



Formation Classes

Basics Teachings of the Catholic Church

2021 Winter / Spring Basic Teachings Schedule

The new 2021 Winter / Spring round of Basic Teachings classes will begin in January. For those wishing to enroll for the entire program, please refer to the class schedule and registration link below for more information. If you are needing a make-up class only, please call (512) 949-2492.

To register, click here:
January 16, 2021 Sacred Scripture 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
February 13, 2021 Creed 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
March 6, 2021 Sacraments 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
March 27, 2021 Morality 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
April 24, 2021 Prayer 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Catholic Adult Formation Classes—2021 Planning Ahead
 English 16-hour / 4-Part courses via Zoom
(Virtual Classes: All sessions must be attended for credit)

To register for Sacred Scripture, click here:
January 5, 2021 Sacred Scripture 6:30-9:30 p.m.
January 12, 2021 Sacred Scripture 6:30-9:30 p.m.
January 19, 2021 Sacred Scripture 6:30-9:30 p.m.
January 26, 2021 Sacred Scripture 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Christology, click here:
February 2, 2021 Christology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
February 9, 2021 Christology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
February 16, 2021 Christology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
February 23, 2021 Christology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Sacramental Theology, click here:
March 2, 2021 Sacramental Theology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
March 9, 2021 Sacramental Theology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
March 16, 2021 Sacramental Theology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
March 23, 2021 Sacramental Theology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Catholic Social Teaching, click here:
April 6, 2021 Catholic Social Teaching 6:30-9:30 p.m.
April 13, 2021 Catholic Social Teaching 6:30-9:30 p.m.
April 20, 2021 Catholic Social Teaching 6:30-9:30 p.m.
April 27, 2021 Catholic Social Teaching 6:30-9:30 p.m.
DRE Level Certification Classes (Virtual Classes)
These are two classes that were canceled during our 2020 summer offering and have been requested by many DREs in order to get closer to certification completion.

To register visit:
January 21, 2021 Conflict Management (three hours only) 6:30-9:30 p.m.
February 4, 2021 Strategic Planning (three hours only) 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Spanish Classes (Virtual Offering)
These will be offered in two-part sessions.

To register for this visit:
January 9, 2020 Catequización por Justicia Social Parte 1 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
January 23, 2020 Catequización por Justicia Social Parte 2 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.

2021 Newly Added Spanish 16-hour courses via Zoom

To register for Sagrada Escritura, click here:

February 2, 2021 Sagrada Escritura 6:30-9:30 p.m.
February 9, 2021 Sagrada Escritura 6:30-9:30 p.m.
February 16, 2021 Sagrada Escritura 6:30-9:30 p.m
February 23, 2021 Sagrada Escritura 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Cristología, click here:
March 2, 2021 Cristología 6:30-9:30 p.m.
March 9, 2021 Cristología 6:30-9:30 p.m
March 16, 2021 Cristología 6:30-9:30 p.m.
March 23, 2021 Cristología 6:30-9:30 p.m.
To register for Teología Sacramental, click here:
April 6, 2021 Teología Sacramental 6:30-9:30 p.m.
April 13, 2021 Teología Sacramental 6:30-9:30 p.m
April 20, 2021 Teología Sacramental 6:30-9:30 p.m.
April 27, 2021 Teología Sacramental 6:30-9:30 p.m

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator of Catechesis 

Resources for Fall/Winter 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)

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)  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: Jan 11, Mar 8, May 10, 2021.
  • Waco (Zoom link sent day before meeting) 5:00pm Jan 14
  • Bastrop/Lockhart (Zoom links will be sent Wednesday preceding the meeting): All meetings at 6:30 p.m.:  December 11, January 8, February 12, April 16 
  • Lampasas/Marble Falls (Zoom links will be sent on Monday before the meeting date): Meeting begins at 11:30 a.m.: January 14
  • San Marcos (Zoom link will be sent early week prior to meeting) Meeting begins at 10 a.m.: December 10
Register Today
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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