Religious educators asked to ‘Open the Door of Faith’ to others
Story and photos by Terence Hegarty
WESTFIELD – Dressed as a New York City doorman, Carole Eipers stood in front of the more than 100 religious educators at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish here Oct. 26 and told them that they “open the door of faith” to their students.
As the keynote speaker for the annual day-long Diocese of Springfield Religious Education Congress, Eipers made her presentation in costume, complete with top hat, a full blazer and white gloves.
Eipers, vice president and executive director of catechetics for William H. Sadlier, Inc., a publisher of religious education materials, told the catechists that they serve a vital role in passing along the faith.
Eipers served in parish ministries for more than twenty years as a teacher, director of religious education, youth minister and pastoral associate. Eipers, who now resides in Chicago, was director of the Office for Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Chicago for nine years. She has also served as president of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership.
Speaking of the children and young adults that the religious educators volunteer their time to serve, Eipers said “you are the first person they see.” She stressed to the crowd how important it is for them to be welcoming and loving to their students.
The day began with a 9 a.m. prayer service in the church that was hosted by Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell. The bishop thanked the catechists for all that they do to pass along the Gospel to others in the diocese.
Sister of St. Joseph Paula Robillard, director of the Office of Faith Formation for the diocese, told iobserve that she was pleased with the gathering, noting that there were many new faces among the catechists.
She said that the day not only helped participants to be better prepared to teach their students, it allowed them to grow in their faith as well. “Catechesis is a lifelong endeavor,” Sister Robillard told iobserve. “We can never stop learning and reflecting on what it means to be followers of Jesus.”
In that spirit of learning, participants were afforded opportunities to attend any two of the more than one dozen workshops given by presenters from both within and beyond the diocese.
For a video version of this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.