Noticias de la Diócesis de Allentown

Parish Religious Education Programs Adapt to Changing Needs of Families as Classes Begin

The pandemic has changed the way many Parish Religious Education Programs are organized this year, but it has not dampened the spirit of catechists and families to help children grow in an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some Parish Religious Education Programs, often known by the acronym PREP, have gone virtual this year to help ensure that learning continues during this socially-distanced time in our lives.

Other programs offer a combination of in-person and virtual learning, while some have remained in-person, and some have altered their schedules slightly.

At the Parish of St. John XXIII in Tamaqua, Kristin Osenbach, Director of Parish Ministries, says about 95 percent of last year’s families have returned for this year’s combination of in-person and virtual formation.

In Orefield, at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, students and catechists were welcomed back to PREP by members of the parish Grandparents Association, who wielded bells, whistles and balloons, according to Rose Hayward, Director of Religious Education. (See photo above.) PREP is both virtual and in-person this year, she said, with a somewhat-modified schedule.

“St. Ann’s Church in Emmaus has retooled our program this year to meet the changing needs of families during the pandemic,” said Christine Kimock, Director of Religious Education.

“Our PREP teachers will act as coaches and guide parents as they pass on the Catholic faith to their children while sharing lessons together at home. Along with a physical PREP book and access to online resources, our caring community of St. Ann’s will be there to support families in their mission as the domestic church.”

In Whitehall, at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, there is a combination of virtual and in-person learning, and a heavy focus on flexibility and safety, said Mary Spieker, Director of Religious Education.

“We are gratefully blessed for the wonderful catechists and volunteers we have,” she said. “All have instantly and willingly agreed to do whatever was necessary to teach our children and families in the ways of our faith.”

Students and parents pick up their books for the Parish Religious Education Program at St. Ann Emmaus.