ECF and Family Life

The theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families, Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive, also brought catechists and interested adults of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh together to discover new ideas on how to connect Eastern Christian Formation to family life. The Office of Religious Education (ORE) held its annual workshop Saturday Aug. 22 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa.

Principal presenter Ann Koshute of the Eparchy of Passaic laid a foundation by engaging the participants in a media presentation focusing on God’s intention for marriage and family. She presented examples on how we might follow Christ more intentionally at home, in the workplace and in our communities. Ann reminded us that St. Pope John Paul II was a tireless supporter and defender of the family. Throughout his twenty-seven year pontificate he authored groundbreaking works such as Familiaris Consortis (“On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World,” 1981) and Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life,” 1995.) In her closing remarks Ann reminded us that we all have the capacity to love as God loves. Our present Holy Father, Pope Francis said it like this:

”The life of a family is filled with beautiful moments: rest, meals together, walks in the park or the countryside, visits to grandparents or to a sick person . . . But if love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus always gives us that love: he is its endless source. In the sacrament he gives us his word and he gives us the bread of life, so that our joy may be complete.” — Pope Francis, October 23, 2013.

Leia Shilobod, President and CEO of InTech Solutions and catechist at St. Stephen Church in North Huntingdon, Pa. led the catechists in an interactive presentation entitled “Enriching Your Classroom and Instruction Through Technology.” Using the example of the Master Catechist, Jesus Christ, she led a discussion on the various ways Jesus taught during his time on earth. Leia talked about how technology has impacted the lives of our children today and the need for catechists to be able to connect faith formation and instruction to this innovative communication. Her PowerPoint presentation included Internet resources, music apps, iconography, Dropbox and YouTube sites which could enrich our God With Us curriculum.

At the 2014 Catechist Workshop, all of the catechists present received The Catechist’s Toolbox, a book by Joe Poprocki. This talented catechist and author since has written a sequel to that book, Beyond the Catechist’s Toolbox. Marcia Harrer, catechist at St. John the Baptist Church in Uniontown, and Kristen Keleschenyi, Catechetical Coordinator at St. Stephen Church in North Huntingdon critiqued the new resource over the summer. Each of these talented catechists shared insights and reflections on how the catechists can take their catechesis “up a notch” so that it reaches learners at a deeper level. In their presentations they explored a number of practical, creative and effective ways to engage those we teach to encounter God’s presence in their lives.

The Archeparchy is blessed to have dedicated catechists to help our children, youth and adults to encounter the risen Christ in their midst, transforming their minds and hearts so that they will live as true disciples of Jesus Christ.