On Saturday, September 14, 2013, the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office inaugurated a yearlong celebration of the 30th anniversary of its founding. Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop emeritus of New York and vicar for education from 1985 to 1988, was the principal celebrant of the Eucharistic Liturgy at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York. Concelebrating were Rev. Joseph Blenkle, pastor of St. Mary, Mother of the Church in Fishkill; Rev. Bernard Heter, pastor of St. Thomas of Canterbury in Cornwall; and Rev. Victor Elia, CM, pastor of Holy Agony, Manhattan. Deacon Joseph Mulryan, coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Grace/St. Mary in the Bronx was deacon of the mass.
Attending by invitation were the directors and coordinators of parish religious education programs, their pastors, the Catechetical Office staff and, as special guests, staff and directors/coordinators who were part of the ministry in 1983, when Terence Cardinal Cooke, then archbishop of New York, founded the office. These men and women have been designated as “Founders” and received special awards, “travel icons” of Jesus and Blessed Virgin, signifying length of service and the lengths to which all went to hand on the faith with excellence.
Cardinal Egan also was honored with the establishment of an award named for him, to be given for extraordinary leadership in the catechetical ministry. He was the first recipient in acknowledgement of his leadership and support of the office when he was vicar for education.
In her welcome, Sr. Joan Curtin, CND, director of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, stated: ‘We have been blessed to be invited to share in the sacred work of spreading the Gospel, of handing on the faith with passion, with joy, with excellence. Is there any greater work? Is there any more profound challenge?”
Of the seven Catechetical Office Founders, four are still members of the staff: Sr. Teresita Morse, RJM, currently director of formation of religious education leaders; Sr. Anne Ryan, PBVM, founding director of special religious education and now consultant to the Catechetical Office; Sr. Catherine Ryan, FSP, currently regional director for Manhattan; and Sr. Kevin John Shields, OP, regional director for Sullivan and Orange counties.
Of the 14 founding directors and coordinators of religious education, only one has retired. The names of all founding staff and parish directors and coordinators follow.
The Founders’ Award Citation
The Archdiocesan Catechetical Office honors the men and women who were leaders in the ministry when the office was founded in 1983 and are, or were until very recently, active. They are the Founders. We salute their dedication, their fidelity, and their commitment to handing on the Faith with excellence.
During the past 30 years, the Church of New York has changed. New immigrants have arrived. Others have moved on. The Catholic population of New York is always in motion but our remarkable founders have kept pace by continually seeking new ways and methods to serve their people. Long before online education, the parish directors and coordinators of religious education traveled miles in all sorts of weather for formation classes and events. The members of the Catechetical Office staff traveled all over to provide those opportunities. Many of them still are traveling while also mastering the new technology.
That is why this Founders’ Award was chosen. It is a travel icon of Jesus and Mary who, as Scripture tells us, traveled greatly themselves. We present it to the following pioneers of our ministry, conscious of the debt we owe them. May we and those who come after us uphold the high standards and sterling example our founders have set for us.
Founding members of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Staff
Rev. Mario Marzocchi, SSS, founding director of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and currently pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, San Antonio, Texas.
Sr. Anne Connolly, OP (Sparkill), regional director for several counties and director of adult catechesis when the office was founded.
Sr. Teresita Morse, RJM, regional director for Ulster in 1983 and currently director of formation for religious education leaders.
Sr. Eileen Reilly, OP (Sparkill), founding director of the Orange County regional office and also regional director of Rockland.
Sr. Anne Ryan, PBVM (New Windsor), founding director for special religious education and currently a consultant to the office.
Sr. Catherine Ryan, FSP, founding director of formation and later founding regional director of Manhattan, where she continues today.
Sr . Kevin John Shields, OP (Amityville), regional director of Sullivan County in 1983 and later Orange County as well. She remains regional director for these counties.
Founding directors and coordinators of religious education
Eileen Budnik – in the ministry since 1977 Currently, director of religious education at St. Mary, Mother of the Church, Fishkill.
Sr. Eileen Burns, OSF (Syracuse) – since 1970. Now retired.
Joanne Cunneen – since 1979. Currently director of religious education at St. Ignatius Loyola, Manhattan.
Barbara Grosso – since 1977. Currently coordinator of religious education at the Church of the Assumption, Maybrook.
Michael Hall – since 1979. Currently coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Pelham Manor.
Peg Hoblin – since 1978. Currently regional director for Rockland and Northern Westchester/Putnam.
Lynne Hyser – since 1981. Currently coordinator of religious education at St. Aloysius, Livingston Manor.
Mary Kay Louchart – since 1981. Currently coordinator of religious education at St. Luke, Bronx.
Sr. Mary Rose Mullervy, OP (Sparkill) - since 1978. Currently director of religious education at St. Anastasia, Harriman.
Deacon Joseph Mulryan – since 1977. Currently coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Grace/St. Mary, Bronx.
Sr. Rose O’Rourke, OP (Sparkill) - since 1978. Currently director of religious education at Sacred Heart, Monroe.
Camille Quaglia – since 1981. Currently coordinator of religious education at St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Staten Island.
Sr. Eileen Treanor, PBVM (New Windsor) - since 1978. Currently director of religious education at St. Paul the Apostle, Yonkers.
Judy Valentine – since 1983. Currently coordinator of religious education at St. Thomas of Canterbury, Cornwall.
Karen Wereszynski – since 1977. Currently coordinator of religious education at Immaculate Conception, Kingston.
The Edward Michael Cardinal Egan Award Citation
The Edward Michael Cardinal Egan Award, inaugurated today, honors an individual whose extraordinary spiritual, creative and educational leadership contribution has enabled the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office to provide the highest quality of catechesis to the Catholics of New York through its formation of parish catechetical leaders and catechists. The name of this award honors Cardinal Egan, who was vicar for education from 1985 to 1988. With his leadership and guidance, the Catechetical Office established the guidelines, protocols and standards that professionalized the ministry of catechesis and established the Archdiocese of New York as a model for other dioceses of the United States.
It is only fitting therefore that the first recipient of this award should be Cardinal Egan himself. Your Eminence, we present this award to you with the gratitude, respect and love of your catechetical colleagues – those here and those who, even at this moment, are handing on the faith in parishes from Tottenvile to Tivoli and still benefitting from your foresight, wisdom and loyalty.