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Directors of religious education attend kickoff event in Gainesville

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Classroom teachers aren’t the only ones busy preparing for the new year. Directors of religious education also prepare for their year by attending the annual DRE Kickoff at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville Aug. 21.

Father Paul F. deLadurantaye, executive director of the St. Thomas More Institute and diocesan secretary for catechetics and sacred liturgy, said the gathering began several years ago as an introduction to the year and so the DREs can meet diocesan staff they often work with.  

“If there are new programs, policies or guidelines they should be aware of, they can put a face with the name and it will give them someone to go to if there are questions that come up,” he said. 

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge stopped by to speak with the directors. He recognized this was the last DRE meeting for Father deLadurantaye, whose new assignment in the English section of the Vatican Secretariat of State in Rome begins Sept. 1.

Bishop Burbidge said Father deLadurantaye’s assignment is a recognition of his countless talents and abilities. “It’s an honor for him and really for our diocese that one of our own has been recognized,” he said. “For his many years of service and especially in the ways he has supported you, I give my thanks.”

Jean Lupinacci, director of religious education for adult faith formation at St. Mark Church in Vienna, said her favorite part of work is journeying with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults candidates and catechumens. 

“It’s a sacred place walking beside them as they become Catholic and grow in their spirituality,” she said. “I’m excited about continuing to grow our small groups. If adults have small groups they are part of they feel more part of the larger faith community.”

This year, the DREs were introduced this year to the diocesan social media policy; formation in Christian Chastity/Safe Environment; safety and security awareness for parish religious education programs; and diocesan catechetical programs and initiatives. 

“I learned from the event that social media policies are very relevant to what we are facing in our day-to-day work,” said Lupinacci. “Thinking about how I monitor what I’m doing and what other people are doing was helpful.”

Father deLadurantaye had some final thoughts for the directors. 

“There are so many people who so generously give of their time. The important thing is that we always continue the mission of Christ entrusted to us — to preach the Gospel and go and make disciples,” he said. “Our directors of religious education have done that. It’s been great to work with them and hope they will continue to pray for me.” 

The directors celebrated Father deLadurantaye with a cake at the conclusion of the meeting. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018