ICN presentation informs about new SAGE tool
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Posted March 27, 2002
When Bishop Daniel N. DiNardo came to the Diocese of Sioux City a reporter
asked him about his concerns. Without really knowing the diocese, he responded
that his first concern was vocations to the priesthood and religious life and
his second was catechesis.
"Part of that reason was that I was involved in catechesis and catechist
formation in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, but in the five years I have been here,
though my comments at the time were made partially in ignorance, I still think
they are on target," said the bishop at a March 12 ICN presentation.
The bishop was addressing about 140 people who had gathered at 12 sites
throughout the diocese to learn about the new SAGE (self assessment, goal
setting and evaluation) tool recently distributed to all parishes to help in
assessing their faith formation programs. The majority of people who attended
were DREs (directors of religious education), youth ministers and pastors.
"I want to speak to you about catechesis and formation in the faith and
why I think SAGE can be a helpful tool," said Bishop DiNardo, who added
that the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been using such an instrument for the last 10
One of SAGE's greatest benefits, he noted, is that through self assessment
parishes will determine where they are, what they have done and where they want
to be in terms of formation in the faith.
Bishop DiNardo said that while faith formation obviously included religious
education classes and youth ministry, he stressed that they also should consider
adult formation opportunities when completing SAGE.
At the request of the bishop, work began on formulating the SAGE document
more than three years ago.
Linda Anderson, director of catechesis for the diocese, pointed out that when
she took her position in the fall of 2001 she was well aware that a parish
self-assessment and goal setting tool was a priority of the bishop. Diocesan
schools have had a similar process in place for a number of years and the school
have found it to be quite useful.
She pointed out that a number of catechetical leaders from various parishes
as well as diocesan staff served on a committee to create the parish tool. The
group first met Nov. 26, 2001.
"SAGE is for the benefit of parishes and what they want to provide for
faith formation," said Anderson. "Its intention is to help affirm
their strengths and help them set goals for the future."
The assessment tool is to be completed by the pastor, parish catechetical
leaders such as DRE and youth minister, members of the religious education
board, catechists as well as a sampling of parents, parishioners without
children in the parish religious education program and youth.
Sections of the assessment focus on personnel, message, prayer and worship,
social justice, service and community. At the ICN presentation, Anderson
described how SAGE used a rating system of 1 to 10. After each section, there is
space available to write comments.
Stephan Davis, director of youth and intergenerational ministry, guided those
at the ICN presentation through additional portions of the assessment tool. He
spoke about formal, structured home formation programs as well as youth
ministry. He said the youth ministry section was structured according to the
U.S. bishops' 1997 document, Renewing the Vision.
"This document (SAGE) is for the benefit of DREs, youth ministers and
catechists," he said. "It is for all those involved in the growing and
maturing of Catholic Christians. Those who complete the SAGE document will have
a much better idea of what you do already and you will begin to realize how
important what you do is to the overall mission of the church."
After the SAGE tool is filled out by the various parish representatives, a
designated person from the parish is to review the responses and compile the
results and submit the findings to the parish/cluster council. From there, a
summary sheet is to be sent to the diocesan office in Sioux City.
Bishop DiNardo asks all parishes to participate in the SAGE process. This
assessment will be repeated every two years.
A final component of the assessment is the formation of visiting teams that
will go to about five parishes every year.