Collaborative Religious Education and Youth Ministry Updates

Dear SJSP Collaborative Religious Ed Families,
On behalf of the staff of the SJSP Collaborative, we hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and managing well during these incredibly difficult times. If you need any help, spiritually, emotionally or financially please reach out and we will be happy to help when we can and/or put you in touch with someone who can help if we cannot.
We write to you today to give you updates on some Collaborative and Religious Ed happenings. First, as Fr. Robert and Fr. Jim announced in their video message last weekendFr. Robert has been named Pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Dover and Saint Theresa Parish in Sherborn, effective September 1, 2020. We will miss Fr. Robert and his thoughtful and spirited homilies but also wish him joy and success in his new role as Pastor. Fr. Jim has let us know that we are going to have another wonderful priest as Fr. Robert’s successor – Fr. David Brogan. Fr. David will be familiar to many of you as he has helped out in our Collaborative a number of times, celebrating the Sunday 5pm Youth Mass and other Masses, and we look forward to the vibrancy and energy he will bring to our Collaborative. In other news, we have resumed recording live Masses at St. John and St. Paul, which are posted on our website on Saturday afternoons – please visit the website for more information on these happenings and other updates.
With regards to Religious Education, the first thing we need to let you know is that the Collaborative 6th Grade Summer Blast program has been canceled for 2020. Given the current social distancing directives, which are likely to continue into early summer, we felt that it was not possible to offer a successful program that would incorporate the fun and learning provided with our Summer Blast “formula”. We hope that our rising 6th graders will participate in our upcoming Collaborative Middle School program which will be addressed later in this email.
The ceremonies for the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion remain high on our list of priorities and we are anxiously awaiting directives from the state on re-convening groups and from the Archdiocese on the resumption of Mass. We will continue to communicate with you more information becomes available.
Before the pandemic hit, we were in the process of realigning our Religious Education and Youth Ministry organization to be better positioned to provide effective and dynamic programs efficiently across the Collaborative. We envisioned a new structure that maintained parish-based programs for Grades 1-5 and created a new Collaborative Middle School program for Grades 6-8, modeled on our very successful Collaborative Confirmation program. The original plan called for hiring a full-time coordinator to manage the Collaborative Middle School, Confirmation, and Youth Ministry programs. We would keep our existing staff and schedules in place at each parish for the Grade 1-5 program, while working as a team toward a more common curriculum.  We are continuing to move forward with our new structure, but we’ve been forced to reconsider our plan to create a new full-time staff position for now. As some of you know, Brenna Wertzberger, our newest Youth Minister, will finish graduate school and her 2-year contract here at the Collaborative this spring. While this is not the right time to hire additional full-time staff, it is imperative that we maintain the vibrancy of our Youth Ministry program. To that end, we recently brought Katie Mears on as a part-time Youth Minister to take over for Brenna and join Luke DelVecchio and Jimmy Hastings on our Youth Ministry Team. Katie is a fifth grade teacher in the Westboro school district, where she has been instrumental in planning and implementing their distance learning processes. She is also, and will continue to be, a vital member of the Youth Music Group. Katie will also play a key role in our new Collaborative Middle School program, which this year will include all of our 6th graders.
As part of our realignment, and in an effort to ensure that our Religious Education and Youth Ministry programs function effectively, efficiently, and collaboratively, Linda Messore will be assuming the role of Collaborative Religious Ed & Youth Ministry Director. Linda will oversee Religious Ed and Youth Ministry programs across the St. John-St. Paul Collaborative. She will also continue to coordinate the Grade 1-5 Religious Ed program with Andrea Fay at St. John while Andrea Doglioli will continue to coordinate the Grade 1-5 Religious Ed program with Donna Tosti at St. Paul.  Donna will continue to support the Collaborative Confirmation Program and also assume additional administrative responsibility in our Collaborative Middle School program.  Christina Messore and Sara Vargas will continue in their support roles for the Collaborative.
Despite the current lack of clarity on what the future holds, we know that our programs must continue. In order to provide programs in the safest and most prudent way possible, we are planning to offer a virtual Collaborative Religious Ed program for grades 1-10 for the Fall of 2020. We are in the beginning stages of what that will look like in content and schedule, but the entire staff is working to create a program that encompasses both St. John and St. Paul grade 1-10 curriculum, and can be delivered in an engaging, safe, and reliable environment with as little disruption as possible to families and to whatever solution is in place for the school system. We will be in touch in the coming weeks with information about registration.
Finally, in order to incorporate the guidance and input from families in our program for both our short-term and long-term planning, we are currently forming a Collaborative Parent Advisory Board. Both parishes have had Religious Ed Advisory Boards in the past, and we feel that now is the time to make that effort a Collaborative one. We will be calling on current members of those Boards along with some new participants. If you are interested in being a member please let us know.
We wish you good health, renewed joy and strength of spirit as we navigate through these difficult times.   Please reach out if we can help in any way.
Linda Messore
Collaborative Religious Education and Youth Ministry Director
St. John Religious Education Coordinator (Grades 1-5)

Andrea Doglioli
St. Paul Religious Education Coordinator (Grades 1-5)

Andrea Fay
St. John Religious Education Teacher Support and Cluster Coordinator

Donna Tosti
Christina Messore
Sara Vargas
Religious Education Assistants

Luke DelVecchio
Jimmy Hastings
Katie Mears
Brenna Wertzberger
Youth Ministry