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Coordinator of religious education and catechesis

Michael J. Hagan became coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington in June, and he will be working to strengthen religious education within the Church by working with directors of religious education in Vermont parishes.
 
“Catechesis is important because our faith is not something that anyone can immediately -- or once-and-for-all – grasp,” he said. “Being a Christian is a lifelong process of unfolding the mystery of our faith, which is exactly what catechesis (the teaching of our faith) helps us to do. This journey is just as important, if not more so, for adults as it is for children.”
 
He plans to introduce more catechetical programs that include the whole family, both children and parents. “How that applies specifically, however, will depend on each parish and its particular strengths,” he said, adding that he will continue to offer catechists educational opportunities throughout Vermont.
 
One of his goals is to better understand how Vermont parishes function and then use that knowledge to be a strong support to assist and encourage them in their individual religious education goals. “The only way to truly achieve this is to pick up the phone, get in the car and build relationships with DREs around the state,” he said.
 
Hagan, 26, was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Grove City College and a master’s in theology from Villanova University.
 
He worked as a theology teacher and campus minister at a Catholic high school in Toledo, Ohio.
 
“In my experience as a high school teacher, I quickly discovered that books alone don't cut it. Outside of the classroom, students naturally consume information digitally, whether it be YouTube videos, online articles or apps on their phones,” he said. “Just as Jesus used familiar objects to make His parables relatable, we need to make technology a part of our religious education curriculum. This will help our students to be engaged in our material. Books are certainly important, but it is best to weave in the latest technology when possible.”
 
Hagan is married and now a resident of South Burlington and a parishioner at Christ the King/St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
 

New director of worship to assist parishes with liturgical catechesis, formation

The Diocese of Burlington has hired a director of worship to assist parishes with liturgical catechesis and formation and to ensure Masses are celebrated with reverence, care and attention.
 
Joshua J. Perry also will coordinate the planning and celebration of diocesan liturgies such as the Rite of Election, Chrism Mass, priestly and diaconate ordinations and priest’s funerals and serve as a resource for confirmation celebrations.
 
Born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., in 2003 and a master’s in Liturgical Studies from St. John’s University and School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn., in 2009.
 
He worked as the coordinator of liturgical celebrations at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis as well as director of worship for a 1,500-family suburban parish (St. Therese Parish in Deephaven, Minn.). Most recently, he was the liturgist at Villanova University.
 
“Effective liturgy engages us and invites us to full, active and conscious participation through ritual, posture, gesture, words, singing and silence,” he said. “It is full of signs and symbols; effective liturgy is the full use of those signs and symbols so that our senses are engaged – sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing – and not just our minds.”
 
Reporting directly to Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington, Perry’s main area of responsibility is liturgical catechesis and formation, offering parishes throughout the diocese assistance in their own efforts in these areas, especially working with liturgical ministers -- lectors, altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, musicians and clergy.
 
“But the Church also recognizes the importance of the worshipping assembly – those who are ‘in the pews’ and called to fully, actively and consciously participate in their own way in the liturgy,” he said. “These catechetical efforts are for them as well so that they may more deeply engage in the liturgy. Because of the importance of liturgical catechesis and formation, this office is a part of the larger Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.”
 
Another of his responsibilities is to ensure that liturgies are celebrated with reverence, care and attention – “to let our liturgy be the best we can offer given our particular situations and resources,” he continued. “Diligent celebration allows us to better reflect on the power of liturgy, and this reflection, in turn, encourages us to more diligent celebration.”
 
Perry hopes to foster and encourage devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist through Exposition and Adoration and to Our Lady.
 
Also, the way parishes celebrate other important moments in people’s lives is also important: baptisms, weddings and funerals. He hopes to encourage positive liturgical celebrations of those times too.
 
“Occasional Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer celebrated communally can be a wonderful addition to Lenten or Advent observances,” he said. “The Church has official blessings for any number of occasions -- there’s a big book of blessings aptly called ‘Book of Blessings,’ and I would like to encourage parishes break open that resource.”
 
Perry hopes in the coming months to provide regional workshops and evenings of reflection so that those involved in liturgy or those who simply want to go deeper in liturgy have time and space to reflect on their liturgical experience.
 
In his first year on the job, he hopes to visit all the parishes/worship sites for Sunday Mass and meet with people from different parts of the diocese to get their sense of the liturgy.
 
He lives in Fairfax with his 10-year-old Akita dog, Ada.
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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