Every weekday (except Tuesdays) the Directors of Religious Education (DRE) across the Diocese of Venice gather virtually to stay connected amongst themselves while also receiving direction on how to continue their work of sharing the Good News of the Lord for students of all ages.
Since mid-March, Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, has been leading these virtual meetings on Zoom (online video conferencing), in the wake of the indefinite suspension of in-room Religious Education classes within the Diocese.
Each virtual meeting begins with prayer and includes check-ins, learning how everyone is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, both within their own family and among the parishioners and their students, Chrzan said. The group is learning about effective virtual teaching and sharing best practices.
Chrzan said everyone on the call shares ideas on topics such as creating fun virtual lesson plans, engaging parishioners and hosting virtual retreats.
The DREs from across the Diocese report that parents and children enjoy staying connected to Religious Education classes and are loving the break from “schoolwork” and taking the time to pause and pray during the day.
One initiative from Chrzan is the offering of weekly lessons online for each Sunday during the Easter Season. These lessons are accessible to parents and students who are enrolled in the Catholic schools and in the religious education programs.
Since all learning is now virtual, every Wednesday, Chrzan sends out instructions in English and in Spanish with a new Sunday lesson code to the DREs and Catholic school principals. The lessons are being created weekly by using an online platform named Nearpod. These lessons are coded so each week the family receives a new, age-appropriate lesson, geared for ages ranging from two-years-old to adult.
In the lessons, families can watch the live stream of their Parish Mass or Mass presided by Bishop Frank J. Dewane (9:15 a.m. 7-days-a-week) which is found on the Diocese of Venice website. Following the livestream of the Mass, the families are instructed to participate in an activity centered around the Gospel message. The lessons are in English and in Spanish. There are also Catholic videos embedded in the lesson for the family to watch throughout the week. This gives families the opportunity to live the Gospel throughout the week by choosing an activity each day.
For example, during the week of the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the families had an opportunity to watch a “virtual May Crowning” as well as creating a May Crowning for their home.
Feedback from the families has been very positive, Chrzan said. “Many families have sent the lesson to friends in other Dioceses who can benefit from the family-centered lessons.”
This initiative will continue through Pentecost (May 31, 2020). Additional initiatives are under development and will be made available to DREs at the appropriate time.
For further information about Diocese of Venice Religious Education initiatives, please contact Anne Chrzan at 941-484-9543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.