Directors of Religious Education Gather for End-of-Year Celebration

As the academic year begins wrapping up, the Diocese of Allentown is also closing out the 2023-24 PREP year. On April 11, Directors of Religious Education (DREs) from all over the Diocese came to celebrate the end of the year together.

Bishop Alfred Schlert celebrated Mass for the DREs at St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield.

“I thank you for sticking to the authentic teachings of the Church. That is so important, and it is the best gift we can give our younger generations,” said Bishop Schlert after Mass as he addressed the attendees.

Bishop Schlert asked the staff members present at the Mass to entrust the students in their care to the Precious Blood of Christ. “This will help spread the teachings of the Church and will help you all as you deposit the faith,” he said in closing.

Directly after Mass, the attendees were invited to a brunch and fellowship in the parish center. The food was catered by the John Paul II Center for Special Learning, Shillington.

Then Kristin Osenbach, Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese, spoke on the importance of the domestic church while using tools from the Peyton Institute.

“By definition, according to the Peyton Institute, the domestic church is a household of persons, united to God and each other through sacramental life of the Church, and committed to living out the Christian/Trinitarian vision of love in their relationships with one another and the world,” Osenbach explained.

The Peyton Institute focuses on family life and developing healthy, holy, and happy families. The goal of the institute: to develop programs to help Catholic families flourish spiritually in an authentically Catholic way.

“Family and religious education go together beautifully because they feed each other,” said Osenbach to participants in the workshop.

Throughout the course of the day, DREs in attendance were challenged to understand the importance of the role of the parent in a child’s faith formation. Additionally, it was discussed how prayer and faith rituals in the home can assist children in developing their faith and will help guide them down the path of holiness.

Using videos from Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, co-executive directors of the Peyton Institute, participants were introduced to the Future Faithful Families Project research study. Within the mission of this project, as presented in the videos, directors of religious education were given tools to help develop dynamic domestic churches.

This new study, by CARA (The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate), commissioned by the Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life, examined over 200 families who successfully raised all their children to a faithful adulthood. The good news? It isn’t luck. The skills these families use can be taught to every Catholic family.

“We wanted to develop practical and empirically based insights on how to form dynamic churches … the framework we developed [the Liturgy of the Domestic Church Life] is rooted in social science research,” said Dr. Popcak in his presentation.

Diocesan DREs were encouraged to use the materials and information presented in the Peyton Institute’s videos and take the tools back to their parish to help students develop their faith both in and out of the classroom.

“What I love about this [program] is the very practical application … as a way to strengthen our families, which in turn strengthens our PREP program, strengthens our parish community and strengthens their learning process,” said Osenbach toward the end of the workshop.

The second half of the workshop was left open to the attendees to discuss how to apply the new ideas they learned in their parish community.


Mass Livestream