Holy Family Cluster opens religious education center
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Posted November 14, 2002
The Holy Family Cluster in Sioux City joined forces last year to offer a
unified parish religious education program for its three parishes.
According to Kathryn Keane, director of religious education (DRE) and youth
minister for the cluster, this year the cluster opened a new education center to
enable the classes to be offered at a central location.
An open house will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 at the new
Holy Family Religious Education and Youth Center, the former St. Joseph convent.
All parishioners and visitors are welcome to attend.
Keane pointed out that last year classes were held at every parish.
"We had kindergarten through fifth at St. Boniface, sixth through ninth
grade were at Epiphany and tenth and eleventh were at St. Joseph's. We were
really spread out," explained Keane. "It was very difficult for
parents to drop off kids on Wednesday nights."
Although they tried to stagger the time, many of the parents felt it was a
lot of work, especially those having children at all three sites. The DRE even
found the arrangement challenging.
"We couldn't get all age groups together and if I wanted to do something
special for the catechists, I had to do it at each location," she recalled.
"Last year when I was running to all three locations, I would drive up to
my office at St. Joe's and I would look over at this building that was empty and
thought wouldn't it be nice to have this building."
She approached the three pastors - Father Gary Snyder at St. Joseph, Father
Paul-Louis Arts at Cathedral and Father Kevin Richter at St. Boniface - and they
could see the value in using the building.
The Holy Family Religious Education and Youth Center houses fifth grade
through high school classrooms. Kindergarten through fourth grade classrooms and
one fifth grade class are held at Holy Family School's St. Joseph Center, which
is located across the street from the new education center.
"Now they really feel like they have some ownership in their
classrooms," noted Keane. "The teachers and the students are able to
create the atmosphere in their rooms to relate to what they are teaching and
what they are learning." For instance, some have opted to put posters up in
Many of the bedrooms - dorm-room type size and style with built in cabinets
and closets - in the spacious convent are big enough to comfortably accommodate
a class of up to 15 students. Some of the smaller rooms are available for
special classes. The program serves about 200 students.
"It has some homelike qualities to it - a full kitchen and a dining
room. We are using the living room as a classroom," she said. Presently
they are seeking the donation of a sectional or other living furniture that
would provide a comfortable atmosphere for youth group meetings.
The convent is also equipped with a chapel that can seat about 15 people.
Individual classes use it for prayer services or to provide an atmosphere that
is conducive for reflection and meditation. The chapel contains wood pews and
has Stations of the Cross on its walls that will come in handy especially during
"When you walk in the chapel, you feel the history and truly feel at
peace," said Keane. "It is nice to have your own little space where
you can pray." Many catechists pray there before classes start.
The DRE pointed out that several volunteers from all three of the parishes
helped to clean and paint the former convent that had not been used for a few
years. Many confirmation students used this as a service project. Several
parishioners have donated items to the facility.
"I think that is the most beautiful part of this whole transition - we
all worked together," she said.
The far majority of the people were very pleased to have the classes offered
at one site. This has enabled the Holy Family cluster to hold large group
services for students in all grades. Also older students have been able to help
In addition to the new education center, the Holy Family Cluster is presently
working to establish a new youth group. A youth ministry core group consisting
of youth and adult leaders have planned a kickoff meeting for Nov. 24.
"We plan to use the eight components of youth ministry," said
Keane. They want it to be a combination of spiritual and social with areas to
evangelize and possibly do service.
To tie into their mission the group will use a book by Lou Holtz titled
"A Teen's Game Plan for Life" focused on the importance of getting to
know oneself, making good decisions and not being afraid to dream.
Youth parishioners from the Holy Family Cluster parishes are invited to
attend the meeting. Friends are welcome to join them. The group will meet on the
second and fourth Sundays of the month from 7 to 8:30 p.m.