High school religious ed programs unite
Four east side Green Bay parishes consolidate to better serve students
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Some are classmates by day. Others go to different schools.
Some are members of the same parish. Others attend different churches.
All come together in faith.
Ss. Peter and Paul, Saint Mary of the Angels, Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral and St. John
the Evangelist parishes, all on the near east side of Green Bay, have consolidated their
high school religious education programs for 2000-2001. Juniors in the Confirmation
Program meet on Sunday mornings at Ss. Peter and Paul. Classes for freshman and
sophomores are held on Wednesday evenings at the Ss. Peter and Paul site.
The four parishes also share a First Sacraments Program. Ss. Peter and Paul once again
serves as the site for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion classes.
"We wanted to do what is best for the kids," said Mike Vincent, director of the combined
religious education program. "Numbers were down for some classes, so by bringing the
students together, we feel we can improve their experience. It's hard to teach to a class of
only three students."
"Faith sharing is cool in a bigger group," said Mary Nelson, director of religious
education at St. Mary of the Angels Parish. "The kids are less reserved and guarded about
sharing than they are in a smaller group."
Discussions for a combined high school program began between Ss. Peter and Paul and
St. Mary of the Angels parishes in the spring of 1999. In August of 2000, Msgr. Roy
Klister, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral and St. John the Evangelist Parish,
inquired about the possibility of a shared high school program. Consolidating the
programs made sense, said Vincent.
Working together is nothing new for the four parishes.
"We had formed a group known as UMPA (United Ministry Planning Area) which had been meeting and we share resources," said Vincent. "We have combined all our videos to offer a wider selection and more resources. We also came together for a combined Valentine's Day celebration. We have good working relationships."
Approximately 80 students participate in the high school program. Freshman study church history, while sophomores concentrate on the Creed in preparation for Confirmation the following year. The Confirmation preparation includes attending 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass. A retreat and 20 service hours are also required.
"I've been impressed how some of the kids are inviting friends to come along," said Vincent. "By word of mouth in the school, we have reached some kids who otherwise would not be here."
Brian Van Eyck of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish was among the students who brought a friend.
"A good friend of mine had never been to a CCD class before, so I encouraged him to come," he said.
The students represent numerous schools including East High, Preble, Southwest, Bay Port and Lombardi. The teens in the program are not limited to members of the four parishes that consolidated to create the new, larger program. Other parishes including Holy Cross, Bay Settlement, and Holy Martyrs, Green Bay, are represented.
Also, Confirmation students from religious education programs at St. Willebrord Parish, Green Bay, and Holy Martyrs recently joined the consolidated group on retreat.
The students are embracing the consolidated format, which is expected to continue in the future.
"We have more learning power," said Krista Petasek of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish.
"I like it," said Mike Duquaine of St. Mary of the Angels Parish. "It's great to meet people that don't go to your school."